Friday, October 7, 2011

The Many Hats of Nancy Loyan Schuemann: Author, Middle-Eastern Dancer & Instructor, and Emotional/Spiritual Liberator

Nancy and I met years ago at an RWA conference. We did exactly what was advised: plunged into conversation. She: "I have two dogs and a husband." Me: "I'm owned by three cats and I'm married too." We became fast and true friends, sharing independent streaks, family dilemmas, joys, and facing fears. Nancy has thrived the past years, carving a fascinating name for herself. Come for a visit, and share  some of your stories as well. She'd love to hear from you.

The Making of an Artist: Embracing Being True to One’s Self”
by Nancy Loyan Schuemann 

There’s the old saying, “To thine own self be true” and I’m living proof.

I was born and raised into a vanilla ice cream family and that was a problem since I am a neopolitan person. Being different can be a blessing or a curse. Growing up in a middle class, working class, ethnic family during the 1960’s encouraged certain expectations for the youngest and only girl in my household. In high school, I took classes in shorthand and typing but mixed in college preparatory courses to my parents chagrin. I was a nerd when girls were expected to be flirtatious and popular. After all, bra size was valued more than IQ and a girl was expected to marry out of high school. I had higher expectations.

I graduated without any husband prospects. Actually, I had never even dated and wanted to attend college.  I was given a choice: a small car and commuting to the nearby community college or two years at the college of my choice, during which time I would have to find a husband. 

After choosing the car and community college route, I graduated with honors and the intention of furthering my education. My parents agreed with the understanding that I would attend a nice college and obtain the MRS before the BS. 

Fooled them. I graduated from a prestigious four-year school with only my BS, majoring in business and embarking on a career in outside sales. Though I had been promoted to an executive level, my mother told the relatives that I was a secretary. Business was, after all, a man’s career and I was an embarrassment.

Nancy's beautiful coffee-table book.
To add further insult to the family, I married at the “old” spinster age of 28 to an older man. Gasp … we never had children (not by choice but circumstance). I was told point blank by my mother, though she denies it and we didn’t speak for months after the comment, that she never would have borne me had she known I was not going to have children. Procreation, after all, was a woman’s purpose in life. 

Nonconformist that I am, I embarked on careers that my parents would never understand. God gives each of us talent and if we don’t use it, we are insulting Him, aren’t we? I decided to do what I love instead of just earning an income. Life is too short, I surmised.

Actually, me and Superman have a lot in common. We are both from Cleveland. By day we are both bespectacled nerdy writers but by night we transform. He into a superhero and me into “Nailah,” the Middle Eastern belly dance instructor and performer. 

As a child, when I used to write, my mother would ask me why I was wasting my time, that no one was ever going to read my writing. Writing for me is like breathing, something that I have to do. 

Nancy's novel based on
her travel experiences.
I became a writer and an author. I’ve freelanced for years, specializing in architecture, construction, profiles and special interest locally and nationally. I was commissioned to write two local history books, one a coffee table book on Cleveland by a national publisher that is widely distributed. Recently, one of my novels has been published by a small press as an e-book.

Over twenty years ago, I took my first Middle Eastern belly dance class and was hooked. 
Ever since graduating from high school, I have made a point of learning two new skills a year. This was one that I have pursued with a passion. 

My elderly mother now chastises me for being too old to dance and Middle Eastern dance too lewd an art form. At my age I should be sitting at home, watching daytime talk shows, shopping and lunching with friends or sitting with her reminiscing. 

Nancy in Middle Eastern dance costume.
Middle Eastern belly dance is misunderstood. It is the world’s oldest dance, not oldest profession. It originated in Egypt as an expression of female empowerment, femininity and reproduction. The dance is not only a form of self-expression and exercise, but is mental and spiritual. The dance aids in self-esteem, body awareness and acceptance. It is meditative. 

Dance has taken me around the country and around the world, having studied and danced in Egypt. I instruct at a university as well as at the prestigious Chautauqua Institution. I have a cadre of students and give lectures-presentation-performances to women’s groups and at wellness seminars. I even write about belly dance locally and nationally for the web magazine,

Like the Robert Frost poem, I have taken “the road not taken and it has made all the difference.”

As Jeremiah says about God, “I know the plans I have for you…”

What plans does God have for you? Are you living a life utilizing the gifts he has bestowed upon you or are you merely following the expectations of others?

Author Bio:
Nancy Loyan Schuemann (“Nailah”), Cleveland, Ohio is a writer, author and Middle Eastern dance instructor/performer. Her recent book is a multi-cultural women’s fiction  novel that takes place in the exotic Seychelles Islands and is available for download at or at in the Kindle store. Her web sites are:  and


  1. Interesting, Nancy. My daughter and I have tried to sign up for an adult ed ME dancing at our high school twice and it's been cancelled twice as we were the only registrants.

  2. Dance classes can be cyclical. I have noticed that the economy has slowed discretionary spending, on activities like dance classes. Many of our local adult recreation classes have been cut or eliminated due to budgetary constraints. Dance studios have told me that enrollment is down. Even the fitness centers have fewer students. I find that my "new" market are private students, either one person or a group, who take classes in their home or personal studio. Rates are actually reasonable. Maybe an instructor in your area offers private lessons as an alternative for you and your daughter. I currently have a mother-daughter student combination.

  3. Elaine, I love this article! Quirky and meaningful at the same time. I can certainly understand Nancy's passion. What a cool lady. Hope I meet her one day. Thanks for sharing her with us.


  4. What a great story to share and an inspiration!

  5. Thank you for the positive comments. It isn't easy baring one's soul for the world to see. Hopefully, my mother will not see it ;-)) I just felt that other women may have had similar experiences during the pre-women's liberation movement and that younger women may not understand the struggles. I also believe that we should follow our passions.

  6. Good comments, Nancy. It's not easy following your passions when there is little support from family. When I majored in psych/sociology & wanted to become a family therapist my mother said "But you're not married and don't have children." And whenever I asked about my family history my grandmother would say "Why? Are you going to write a book?" Well, I am married now, and yep, I have written a novel about family history.

    Bottom line: as long as you're not hurting others and living a life that would make God proud, do what your heart dictates and enjoy! Life is short.

  7. So glad I found your invitation to visit on SheWrites, Elaine! Nancy, thank you so much for baring your soul. Like both of you, I have a mom (84 this year) who is locked into expectations because of her upbringing.

    Recently I tried to describe to her the fulfillment I get from from midlife reinvention. I'd gone from being a speechwriter to a ballroom and Latin dance teacher, blogger, amateur photographer and aspiring clothing designer. My Mom's only comment: "You aren't using what you learned in college!" (I was a Literature major.)

    My philosophy, like yours, is that God gave me these formerly undiscovered talents (buried while I toiled at a desk job for two decades). It behooves me to make use of them while I'm still in good health! I will not question them because that would mean questioning the Giver of these gifts. To Him be the glory when my efforts bear fruit! And if it inspires other women to take courage and take risks, well that's even more fruit for my offering.

  8. Scrollwork, thanks for sharing your most inner thoughts, and thanks too for visiting this blog & for letting me know the source of how you found out about it.

    I don't hate my parents--but have yearned throughout my whole childhood (and even up to the present) for more support. These past few years, like you, I've come to realize that all the support & love I need is given to me daily from God who loves me no matter what. It's the very thing that gets me out of bed each morning to face the world.

    I admire your so many talents. God has truly blessed you with these fun & interesting pursuits but has also helped you to bless and enrich other lives. And that, in my opinion, is true beauty.

    Hope you visit Everyone's Story again.



  9. Scrollwork,
    Our journeys are similar and my motto is to "wear out and not rust out."
    I liked your comment about generational expectations. Women, like our mothers, lived in a different era when they were our age. A woman's goal in life was to get married and raise children and nurture grandchildren. A "career" was something you did before marriage, if even. Being over fifty was "old." I would think, though, that they would be proud of what their daughters have accomplished in a "man's world" and how active and involved we are. We are role models for those children and grandchildren. Alas, I forgive my mother for her faults. After all, Christ forgave those who didn't understand Him. The Ten Commandments have us honoring our parents as well. Without them, we wouldn't be alive to share our gifts!

  10. Nancy, it's been a fantastic, uplifting week with you and our viewers. Thank you so much for being my guest and for sharing a glimpse of your past that helped to define the very special person you are. I'm so blessed to have you as a dear friend.

    ♥ Elaine

  11. Thank you, Elaine, for the enlightening opportunity!

  12. That's the coolest author article I've read in a long time. Way to go, Nancy. My husband is Middle Eastern, and I've learned a good bit of belly dance. My specialty, though, is worship dance, and I've yet found a way to fit them together other than using some of the arm movements. LOL.

  13. Dina,
    Actually, I taught a class, "Belly Dance for Praise Dancers" and was going to begin a praise dance in our church until another lady with ballet credentials jumped in and tried to do so. For some reason, the art form didn't work out in our church. Anyway, I used to teach at a Christian dance studio. The owner and some of her dancers took my regular belly dance class. There are many things that you can use. Veils and veil dancing can work and Wings of Isis are dramatic, especially during the holidays. Of course, isolations must be toned down and some eliminated but line dance moves work as does some Egyptian footwork. There are really many possibilities. Thanks for the kind words!

  14. Nancy, I've used scarves, which I'm sure are similar to veils. I did a scarf dance to an Israeli song, which my husband always thought looked Middle Eastern. It was a big hit, and I did it at about 8 different churches.


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