Our 2011 Conference Instructors
- ↓Anasma is a Performance Arts Dancer, Teacher and Choreographer. Drawing from her cross-training in Bellydance and other forms (Hip Hop, Acting, Miming, Gymnastics, Yoga, Salsa, Wushu, Flamenco, Modern Jazz, Contemporary Simonson technique, African…), Anasma focuses on making dance meaningful and touching through storytelling, character development and movement. To her, dance is an expression of the self and of the soul that enables each dancer, may they be new to it or professional, to share their deepest emotions and to be in the Now. Half-Tunisian and half-Vietnamese, brought up in Paris, France, and living in New York City, USA, Anasma was naturally drawn to mixing art forms to express who she is through performance and teaching. Thus her World Dance fusions (Hip Hop Bellydance Liquid fusion, Wushu bellydance, Salsa bellydance…) are a mix between the ethnic and the urban components of her personal background and her present life. Since 1997, Anasma has performed and taught in dance festivals, prestigious theaters, television shows, concerts, and toured many times in Europe, North America and Asia. From 2006 to 2009, Anasma worked with the respected company Bellyqueen as one of their principal dancers. Anasma is featured in the following performance DVDs: “Bellydance Experience”, “Bellydance NYC: the Ultimate Fusion Experience,” “Fantasy Bellydance” and “Fantasy Bellydance: Tarot” as well as in two instructional DVDs: “Bellydance Hip Hop Liquid Fusion” and “Wave Explosion” with Future. She sings alongside Pete List in the album “Songs for Kassar.” She is the co-director of the New York Theatrical Bellydance Conference with Ranya Renée and has co-produced the interactive dance show “Ready, steady, dance”. www.AnasmaDance.com.
- ↑↓Ranya Renée Ranya has trained in Arabic language and music for many years, produces live music and dance workshops and concerts, and conducts original research in the Middle East. A protégée of New York’s Yousry Sharif, Ranya also studies with other Egyptian masters including Mahmoud Reda, Mona El Said, Raqia Hassan, Aida Nour, and others.Ranya performs and teaches internationally, with past engagements in Japan, Taiwan, Canada, France, Italy, Norway, Honduras, Israel and Tunisia. In New York City and around North America, she has danced at museums and cultural festivals as well as in large stage shows. She has been featured twice at the Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festval with virtuoso Simon Shaheen’s Near East Music Ensemble. The Tunisian cultural minister for dance commissioned her solo danse orientale performance early in her professional career, accompanied by the Tunisian Troupe Nationale orchestra, for a large gala event in Tunis. Ranya has also performed dance presentations at Central Park Summerstage, the United Nations, the American Museum of Natural History, the Brooklyn Museum, universities, and Arabic clubs and cultural functions, including weddings.As a dancer-actress, she performed with Alessandra Belloni in the Passion opera as Mary Magdalena at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York. Television appearances include Good Morning America and programs in Europe, Central America, and the Middle East. Ranya has been interviewed on women’s fitness by Self Magazine and Fox News Online. The New York Times’ Weekend section featured Ranya on its cover in August 1998. The New York Press said of her show: “Ranya is a vision…you can’t take your eyes off her.” In reviewing her August 2001 Lincoln Center performance, the Village Voice praised the “classy, poetic fluidity of her gestures and isolations.” Respected dance master Elena Lentini has called her dancing “luxurious.”Ranya brings her decades of theatrical experience as an actor, director, and acting coach to her work with dancers, and identifies links between physical, energetic, and emotional aspects of the dance in giving feedback to performers who train with her. Ranya’s “Breathwork for Performance” techniques, which she has been developing since 1996, help dancers build confidence in themselves and build a relationship with audiences. She has trained dancers all over the world in these techniques, and has presented related research and teaching material at the Second International Conference on Middle Eastern Dance (California) and at the International Bellydance Conference of Canada (Toronto).Ranya directs professional and student ensembles (including her company Maqamikaze), and has contributed to off-Broadway and independent productions and performing groups in this capacity as well. Ranya has also served as curator for the “Dance at Alwan” series at the Alwan for the Arts Arab cultural center in Lower Manhattan.
Visit www.Ranya.net for more about Ranya’s work.
- ↑↓Elena Lentini trained in Middle Eastern Dance with Ibrahim Farrah, Mime with Stefan Niedzialkowski and Christopher Yeatmanof the Polish Mime theater,
and Flamenco with Maria Alba and Victorio Khorjian. During the 1980`s, much of which was spent teaching and performing in Europe, the Middle East
and America, she formed her company Caravanserai. Drawing on her own individual experience for inspiration, her work became more universal, presenting an abstract vision of
the myths and rituals of ancient civilizations, returning again and again to her celebrated themes of evolution and metamorphosis……
- ↑↓Yael BeckerYael Becker is an Oriental Dance performer, choreographer and instructor. She is immersed in Middle Eastern Dance, and has contributed to its field since 1996.
Yael studied in Israel, Egypt and in the USA, with teachers such as Elizabeth, Fifi Ness, Mahmoud Reda, Yousry Sharif and Dalia Carella, among others. She also studied improvisation, modern dance and theater dance, acting and singing, meditation and guided imagination technique. Yael holds a B.A. from Tel Aviv University in Psychology and Multidisciplinary Art.
A native of Israel, Yael grew up on Arabic music, Egyptian movies and musicals. In her dance, Yael is combining Egyptian dance and Theatre dance, inspired by everyday life, all in an expressive, soulful and sophisticated way.
In 2003-2004 Yael collaborated with dancers Fifi Ness and Orit Maftsir in stage productions at the prestigious Suzanne Dellal Center in Tel Aviv.
In 2003 Yael was nominated host dancer of the restaurant-lounge “Byblos” in Tel Aviv. For 3 years, twice a week, she performed and gave stage time to professional and amateur dancers, creating a room for the dance scene to meet and evolve.
Yael has been featured in video clips and in several TV shows in Israel. In 2006 she and her students performed with Balkan Beat Box. In 2006 Yael and dancer Tamar Bar-Gil created the show “Raks 2” – a show dedicated to Egyptian music and dance. It ran for two years, to great acclaim. In 2009 Yael created “Rikdi Tamah” – a theatrical Oriental dance show with live world music, inspired by her move to New York and other personal stories. The soundtrack included an Oum Kalthoum song, klezmer, jazz and Israeli music – some of which written especially for the show. During her stay in New York City, Yael collaborated with Kaeshi Chai, Bellyqueen and PURE, and with the Dalia Carella Dance Collective.
Yael has been teaching Belly Dance since 1999. As a teacher, she emphasizes emotional execution in the movement, letting the dance become a tool for communication or a statement, with meaning and presence. In addition to her weekly classes in Israel, she has given numerous workshops in festivals and dance schools around Israel and the United States. She taught and performed at Indiana University and her workshops in New York were sponsored by Bellyqueen.
Yael Becker is currently based in Israel, and continues to travel with her dancing. She was a featured performer at the NY Theatrical Bellydance Conference in 2010 and recently collaborated with “Ozu” in Italy.
For more information visit www.beckeryael.com
- ↑↓Autumn Ward creates compelling dances that combine scholarship and imagination with technical virtuosity. Working within and beyond cabaret, tribal, and ethnic styles, Autumn is best known as a star of genre-defying artistic belly dance. Her repertoire also includes authentic cultural dances from across the Islamic world, including Arabic, Turkish, and Persian styles. Autumn’s body of work reflects her expertise and training across many disciplines, including a wide range of classical and folkloric dance styles, music, theater, circus, and variety entertainment.
A master teacher, Autumn brings the same level of careful attention to the classroom that she brings to the stage. In 2009 she created “Beautiful Technique from Step One“, an internationally-distributed belly dance instructional DVD. She was a faculty member at Joy of Motion Dance Center, Washington, DC’s largest dance school, from 1999 to 2002. She currently teaches independently in New York City, and, as a workshop presenter, around the world.
- ↑↓Dalia CarellaDalia Carella is a renowned world fusion artist, choreographer and master teacher. She is the Founder and Artistic Director of the Dalia Carella Carella Dance Collective. Audiences from around the world have applauded her mystical and innovative dances and choreographies that are taken from the tradition of the countries she is representing. Ms. Carella has delved deeply in the studies of dances from the Near and Middle East including Egypt, Turkey, Lebanon, as well as North Africa including Morocco and Algeria, India and Spain. Her dances are both traditional and contemporary with a spiritual and mystical essence behind each and every dance that she creates. Some of Ms. Carella’s new works represent both traditional and contemporary movement ranging from sacred rituals to ethnic contemporary theater pieces to post modern works.Her dance background also includes studies in Flamenco, Indian, Bollywood/Bhangra, Afro-Haitian, Samba, Salsa, Bomba and Plena from Puerto Rico as well as jazz and ballet. Ms. Carella also created one of her signature dances in 1985, “Dunyavi Gypsy (Roma) Dance“, for which she is known throughout the world. The core of Dalia’s Dunyavi work is extensive research of the Romany trail, focusing primarily on the Roma dances of Spain, India, Turkey and movements from North Africa. Dalia performs and teaches a second style of Gypsy Rom dance, “El Mundo”, that has evolved from her continuing studies of Middle Eastern, Andalusia and Latin dance influences.Francis Mason, (WQXR Radio, New York) wrote: “Dalia Carella is an accomplished artist. Watching her brought back memories of the power of the eastern dance of Ruth St. Denis early in the century and the inspiration that gave to another American girl, Martha Graham. She brought back the grace and mysteries of the East. A final solo based on Turkish, Spanish and Indian Gypsy dances had us all cheering!” Lisa Jo Sagolla from Backstage wrote: “Dalia Carella has star power. Performing a highly original fusion of Middle Eastern, modern, and other world dance forms, she bewitches her spectators, while seeming to excite herself, with a sizzling allure that is almost frightening.” Eva Yaa Asantewaa from the Village Voice wrote: “Few dancers exude as much joy as Carella, a ravishing woman of singular confidence and dramatic expression whose role models must be Ruth St. Denis, Katherine Dunham, and Ava Gardner.”
Dalia’s performance credits are as follows: a one woman show at both New York City’s Lincoln Center’s Out-of-Door Series and the Merce Cunningham Dance Studio: The Group Opera Company of New York City in both Carmen and La Traviata as both dancer and choreographer; Second Stage; Nicolas/Louis Choreospace, the Brooklyn Academy of Music and Yale University with Elena Lentini and Company; The Southern Theater in Minneapolis, MN; The Ford Theater, Los Angeles, Festival of Woman Improvisers and Festivals in New York City sponsored by Met Life. In 2005, Dalia was invited by the University of Kentucky to be a guest choreographer. She choreographed The Collective’s dance epic “Salome” from her Ruth St. Denis Rep for their Sept. Fall Concert. UOK also performed it at the University of Columbus, April 2006. In 2006, Dalia performed along with Nubian Moon Daughters with Composer Cal and the Peekskill Symphony Orchestra for the PBS “Master Series” Special, which was presented on national TV in March of 2006. Ms. Carella also received rave reviews from the New York Times in 2007, for her dancing and choreography for a 12 week New York run of an off-Broadway “Desert Sunrise” written by Misha Shulman at The Theater for the New City. Dalia and DCDC performed at PS122 in February of 2008 as part of the Field’s “Fieldday Series” and at the La Mama International Dance Festival in May, 2008, New York. In October, 2008 Dalia was invited to be the guest choreographer for Adelphi University’s “70 Year Tribute to Ruth St. Denis”. In October 2008 – Dalia and the DCDC performed at Adelphi University in “A Tribute to Ruth St. Denis” as part of the DCDC’s repertory of this Off-Broadway Show. Dalia premier “Stepford Jives”, and “Ms. Manners Has a Breakdown” as part of the DCDC successful 4 day run in their June Salon in 2009.
Ms. Carella’s numerous concerts and teaching tours have led her throughout the United States, Canada, England, Puerto Rico, Switzerland, Germany, Spain, Portugal and Japan.
- ↑↓Aysheis a New York dance artist, choreographer, and designer. Ayshe blends her Greek and American heritage to create an exotic and unusual dance style. She has trained extensively in classical ballet, modern dance, yoga, and numerous ethnic dance forms, particularly Middle Eastern dance, ancient Pharaonic dance, and Indian dance. She holds a B.A. from Hunter College in Dance & Human Movement, Archaeology, and Middle Eastern Studies.Ayshe’s dance styles include: Turkish and Egyptian style bellydance, Indian dance, ancient Egyptian Pharaonic dance, and fusion / fantasy bellydance.Recent projects and appearances
Recently, Ayshe has been working on creative performance projects and workshops with Venus Uprising (www.venusuprising.com) and has been performing in dance and fitness dvd’s for World Dance New York. In the spring of 2009 she performed and taught at Maja’s “Spirit of the Tribes” in Florida and had the honor to perform at Cirque du Soleil’s premiere party for the show Kooza. Also, in 2009 she started working with a new group, “Cult of Isis“, focused on performing ancient Egyptian dances. The group premiered in the Venus Uprising show, Metamorphosis and at Rakkasah East of that year. In 2010, she taught and performed at Rakkasah’s Spring Caravan and Cult of Isis was featured at the NY Theatrical Bellydance Conference that July. In Spring, 2010, Ayshe joined Tayyar Akdeniz’s “Folk Tours” as a personal assistant and member of the teaching staff. Finally, Ayshe is excited to announce being invited to teach and perform at the NY Theatrical Bellydance Conference, 2011 and is scheduled to teach at the Rakkasah spring Caravan in 2012.
Since the early 90’s, Ayshe has been designing “Wings of Isis“, a spectacular dance prop that transforms a godddancer into a vision of a wingedess. Ayshe is responsible for the initiation of “Isis wings” as a specialty for bellydance performances. Her instructional dvd, WINGS: THE COMPLETE TECHNIQUE, is the only one of its kind, fully describing and teaching, step by step, the movement vocabulary Ayshe has created for dancing with wings. Ayshe designs wings for dancers worldwide, including THE BELLY DANCE SUPERSTARS. Ayshe continues to experiment with wings, using them with many styles of music and movement.
- ↑↓Zoe AnwarZoe Anwar is one of the most elegant and avant-garde international oriental and ethnic dancers residing in Spain.
Through her work as choreographer, dancer and solo dancer in numerous shows, as well as performer, Director of shows and dance companies (such as Tandava), and as an internationally recognized Master instructor of oriental and ethnic dances, Sufi spinning, Flamenco-Oriental fusion and a technique of his own creation , Natural Dance; Zoe Anwar combines her artistic multidisciplinary experience with a strong social commitment to women’s empowerment and intercultural and gender issues.
After obtaining her Diploma in Classical Ballet with the Royal Academy of London , she continued her training with some of the greatest masters of bellydance, such as as Raquia Hassan, Lenna Beauty (now a member of Mayumana), Mohammed AlSayeid, Sinna… adding to her creations her knowledge of set design, visual composition and design and expanding her versatility with techniques such as singing, stage acting (at La Cuarta Pared and William Layton studio), meditative dances (Sufi spinning, Tantra), stunt fighting and Ethnic dances: Flamenco, Caucasus dances, traditional Indian and African Dances…
Her extensive experience, both nationally and internationally, has earned Zoe Anwar great recognition as Stage Director, Choreographer and Performer of Oriental dances, fusion dances and performances.
After obtaining a Degree in Design at the Instituto Europeo di Design in 2002, in 2003 she created and directed the Performance Company VOMO DEMENTIA, through which she did production, art direction and staging for brands such as J&B, Orange Mobile Phones, Scheweppes, Ron Barceló etc.As a performer, she started her career as a member of the MABRUK Company, created by Lenna Beauty, where she worked as dancer, Choreographer and Art Director.
Among her creations are artistic direction works for institutions such as the Province of Madrid Government, the Syrian Cultural Center, the Embassies of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Yemen, the Ateneo de Madrid, the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation , etc. In 2005, she was responsible for Art Direction and Scenic Design of the Gala Opening for the World Championship Tae-Kwondo. Since 2009, she directs and plays lead in the flamenco-oriental dance shows for the Platform of Women Against Gender Violence, with which she went on tour through various locations in Israel and Palestine.
As a dancer, she has toured as a soloist on international locations and has taught dance workshops in Europe, the U.S. and Arab countries, in locations as representative as Egypt, Paris, New York, Geneva, Mexico City, Madrid, etc.
In her role as producer, she has worked as director and producer of Professional Oriental Dance Company TANDAVA, taking charge of the production, stage direction and choreography of the Dance-Theatre performances Aluaan and Karah , of which the latter was shown under the prestigious program of activities of Madrid’s Veranos de la Villa ;as well as undertaking the production, direction and choreography of the shows Sacra, Distant Worlds (with Angel Rubio’s Jazz Band), or Entre el Cielo y la Tierra [Between Heaven and Earth] (with Luis Panigua), among others.She has participated in various festivals such as Festival Otros Flamencos [Other Flamenco Styles Festival] and acted with renowned Tito Losada’s flamenco group at the Gala de las Artes [Gala of the Arts] in 2009.Since 2010, she directs and produces WOM Dance events in Madrid.
Coupled with her extensive career on stage,Zoe Anwar’s great interest in thoroughly exploring feminine nature leads her to study meditative techniques and sexology. Educated in Tao, Tantra and Buddhism by masters such as Lama Ole, the Sixteenth Karmapa, Alan Wallace and Daniel Odier, she decides to unite the knowledge she has acquired towards women’s empowerment and personal development and the fusion of diverse multidisciplinary techniques to create the innovative dance technique she calls Natural Dance, designed to connect the essence of movement and emotions.In turn, she conducts numerous workshops on sexuality and female empowerment, and is the editor and creator of the FEMKEYS portal.
- ↑↓David of Scandinaviais an internationally touring Middle Eastern and Indian dance artist, choreographer and dance coach. Norwegian by birth and East Indian by heritage, DaVid trained in Punjabi Folk dances from an early age under his father, Ustad T.S. Badyal, former member of the award winning Layllpur Khalsa College Bhangra Team.A performer since childhood, DaVid is known for his precise technique, delicacy in artistry and expressive finesse along with his refined musical sense and draws from his training, linguistic and cultural explorations in his dance and teaching. This has lead him to performance and instructional engagements in Norway, Sweden, Germany, Switzerland, England, Mexico and in the United States.DaVid co-owns the Ethnic Dance Academy in San Diego, CA, USA since 2005 where he in addition to teaching regular classes conducts two dance programs “The EDA Apprentice Program” and “Middle Eastern Dance Essentials Certification Program” (M.E.D.E). He has authored comprehensive dance study materials for these programs. DaVid coaches dancers for performances and competitions and was in 2010 commissioned to coach and choreograph for the Bellydance Superstars show – Bombay Bellywood.
DaVid has been a featured performer at multiple international festivals and stages including 1001 Natt Oslo Bellydance Festival, Oslo Oriental Dance Festival, Stockholm Bellydance Festival and Raqs LA. He has been interviewed by major newspapers, magazines and TV channels in Norway, Sweden and Germany including Aftenposten, Se&Hør, NRK, TV3 and VDR. DaVid is featured on performance and instructional DVDs by IAMED, PeKo Records and Cheeky Girls Productions.
DaVid has trained in Middle Eastern dance with Ms. Safa (USA/Norway), Ms. Dr. Lee Figenschow (Norway), Ms. Lena Helt (Sweden) and other dance dignitaries from Egypt, Norway, Sweden and USA. His multifaceted background and investigative nature has also brought Kathak, Baratha Natyam, Ballet, Modern, Ballroom, Latin, American Cabaret, American Tribal Style, American Tribal Fusion and also Ideokinesis and Yoga into his exploration.
- ↑↓Wendy Buonaventurawas among the first to pioneer Middle Eastern dance as an art in the West and is well known for her book on its history: Serpent of the Nile. This book has recently been updated and reissued and she has completed a slideshow/talk about it for the (London) Guardian newspaper website: www.guardian.co.uk/books/interactive/2010/aug/23/arab-dance-serpent-nile
She celebrates dance as a key to tapping our creativity and hidden energies. Her style draws on a broad experience of theatre and bodywork, including Egyptian and African dance, tango, flamenco, t’ai chi and yoga.
Her theatre work, combining text and dance, explores cultural myths about women, and a documentary has been made about her for British TV. Among her theatre pieces are: Revelations: The Testament of Salome, “A highly disciplined, marvellously atmospheric production” – Michael Billington (The Guardian); created for 1 dancer, 1 actress, Revelations was a reinterpretation of the New Testament story. Dancing Girls was described by the Dancing Times as “A precious little piece of theatre.” It examined Orientalist perceptions of Middle Eastern culture and female dancers. Mimi La Sardine , performed with her dance company, entertained with tales of a modern dancer’s life. Most recently, her one-woman show I Put A Spell On You included film, text and dance and was based on themes in her book of the same name (published in the USA as Something In The Way She Moves). It was described in The Stage newspaper as: “A rare fusion of thought-provoking art and inspiring fact…immensely provocative on all levels, testifying to the fact that Buonaventura still possesses her own brand of spellbinding power.”
Wendy has written for BBC radio, published many articles and appeared at literature festivals in the UK talking about her books, which explore women’s social/sexual history through dance and other of life’s pleasures. Her recent part-fictional book, Midnight Rose is based on the life of the scandalous Edwardian dancer Maud Allan. (This book can be obtained from www.cinnabarbooks.co.uk)
She is programme director of the UK dance festival Sirocco.
- ↑↓Fayzahis a dancer/performer/choreographer/instructor who focuses on expressing music through various integrated movement languages.She is an accomplished Tribal-Fusion dancer, Fire Circus performer, Argentine Tango dancer, innovator of Tango-Bellydance Fusion, and DJ (which got her into music venues underage, where she was spinning all kinds of music). Her own “United Styles Dance Method” blends elements of World Dance styles, Popping, Waving, Hip Hop, and Groove theory.She spent part of her early childhood in Europe, resulting from her father’s fascination with German Cabaret. She then lived in Arizona, where, when she wasn’t cruising around listening to G-Funk, she was studying various movement forms: Ballet, Jazz, Bharatanatyam, Middle Eastern, & Capoeira, among others. She also fell in love with music from Africa, Brazil, and the Middle and Near East.
Fayzah’s life and dancing continued with a trip to Egypt followed by a move to California. She also lived in Puerto Rico, where she started a Tango community before moving to NYC.
Themes in her dancing include a strong musicality, imagination, unique costuming, intricate isolations, and fluidity. Some of her strongest influences are found in nature, especially in creatures who live in the ocean, (both real and fantastic). She believes that dance is a powerful avenue for a person to grow and to connect to the self and others.
She has done live performances for numerous productions and theatrical presentations including Top Talent USA.
Her choreographic works are featured on several performance DVD’s on the Neville Dance, Hollywood Music, & World Dance NY labels, and she has created the instructional DVD’s “Fluid Tribal” & “Android Goddess.” Fayzah is currently teaching and performing worldwide.
For more information visit: dancespiral.wordpress.com
- ↑↓Aszmara “Dance is emotion in motion” describes accurately the quality of Aszmara’s dance. Performing and teaching workshops regulary in the USA and Europe, she is one of New York’s best interpreters of the ethnic dance. She impresses through her expressive stage presence and interprets the music with her own blend of modern and ethnic Arab and Turkish dance. The New York Times describes her dance as “intense”.Throughout her over three decade career as a teacher and performer, Aszmara’s performances range from pure cabaret entertainment to full concert stage creating themed concert events as well as innovative dances. Her choreography has graced many New Rochelle Opera Companies productions (currently working on Turandot) as well as many New York city dancers. As a master teacher she teaches master and beginner’s classes with the same enthusiasm. Her deep love of the dance and teaching shines out to all in her classes bringing out the expressive passion in her students. A wonderfully clear, down-to-earth, funny, good-natured teacher she transports you to new levels of intensity and focus. Her workshops, thus, are highly appreciated both by professional dancers as well as by beginners. Proudly, she is an Adjunct Professor since 2002 at the College of New Rochelle as well as the Advisor for their Step Team, Black Ice. Aszmara’s instructional DVD, Belly Dance… The Secret Desire won high praise from Habibi Magazine for it’s educational value.In 1988, Aszmara with Roberta Koch co-founded SaZ Dance Theatre, a groundbreaking Multi-cultural dance company. Classical Indian, Spanish, Afro-Haitian, Cuban and Middle Eastern techniques were blended with modern movements to create an exciting and eclectic dance form. NYC productions were at The Knitting Factory, The Moving Company, Movements Afoot, Evolving Arts Theatre at Dance Space, SounDance Repertory, and in 1993 and 1996 had two weeklong runs at SoHo’s Ohio Theatre where Jack Anderson of The New York Times wrote their production of “Out of Time” was “explicitly dramatic” and “a fascinating assortment of brief pieces.”Oriental Images was formed in the mid 1980’s along with Carmen Evan and Majda Mudell Fisher with the idea to educate and entertain audiences with the rich culture of the Middle East. For 15 years they produced yearly events which were highly regarded in the Middle Eastern Dance community with workshops and concerts presenting folkloric and classic Oriental dance for the theater stage. In 1997, Oriental Images received the AAMED Hall of Fame award.Since 1989, she has toured yearly in Switzerland with the ethnic/jazz fusion music group, Transition with Master Musicians, Haig Manoukian, Souren Baronian and Cornelia Kraft, who blend traditional music from Armenia & the Middle East with Jazz. Aszmara has been teaching Weeklong Dance Workshops in Switzerland once a year since 1991 as well as Weeklong Dance & Drumming Workshops along with drumming instructor Cornelia Kraft since 1999.
Aszmara embodies theatrical passion. Her performances delve deeply into the soul of the music and demand the audience’s attention. Her passionate connection to the music and her informed teaching are truly unforgettable with an electric excitement of music and dance created in the space between choreography and improvisation.
- ↑↓Lotus Niraja is a professional Middle Eastern dance artist specializing in Urban, Contemporary and Modern Egyptian and Lebanese belly dance styles. As one of the top performers and instructors on the East Coast, Lotus is widely recognized for her dance style, dramatic energy, and vibrant interpretation and technique. Known for her drum solos and shimmy technique, her dance style is dynamic, infused with glamour and style! Lotus teaches Belly Dance classes and offers private lessons as well as national and international workshops. In her classes and workshops, Lotus combines elegance, grace and crisp movement technique with stage dynamics and audience participation in order to help the student give a polished theatrical performance. She offers an extensive library of workshop topics including Raks Modern, the Art of Belly-o-Graphy, Raks Sabor, the Icing on the Drum Solo, Egyptian Style Dance Boot camp and Shimmilicious Shimmies.In addition, Lotus is the Artistic Executive Director and a Principal Choreographer of the award winning, internationally known troupe, The NDC (The Niraja Dance Company). As one of America’s premiere belly dance companies, they are most admired for their modern approach to Middle Eastern belly dance style, featuring classical and contemporary movement, haute couture costumes designed exclusively by MAZ, and a love for a performance well done! Lotus and The NDC have been featured on DVDs such as Suzy Evans’ IAMED series, the By Dancers for Dancers series by Michelle Joyce’s Cheeky Girls Productions and in print and online magazines such as Zaghareet, the Chronicles, Shimmy Magazine and iShimmy.com. The NDC believe in presenting dynamic theatrical dances in a way that infuses the audience with excitement.Visit www.LotusNiraja.com
- ↑↓HananHanan (Tiffany Madera, M.A.), has been a leader in her field for over a decade. Specializing in contemporary folkloric styles of Egypt, Yousry Sharif wrote “Hanan can easily pass as a native dancer of Cairo… this is no easy task”. The Miami Herald describes Hanan as “boundary crossing”, “bold” and “a dominant force in contemporary dance”. She is the Founder of Cuba’s first Bellydance Troupe and band; Aisha’ Al-Hanan and has created and developed two documentary films on the subject. She is currently in post production of her film “Havana Habibi” in collaboration with Beeloved Creations. Hanan is a prolific and avante-garde dance theater artist and is a critically acclaimed director and producer of the Habibi Trilogy (Hip Hop Bellydance hybrid theatre) and Hanan with Other Friendly Gods and Goddesses, which made the Miami Herald Top 10 Performances of the Year. Hanan is a world renowned protégé of Tamalyn Dallal and Yousry Sharif. Her teaching manifesto is based on community empowerment and service. Hanan spent several years teaching bellydance at Battered women’s Shelters, Women’s Prison and inner city community centers. She created the Dance Empowerment Project with the Arts at St. Johns originally targeting adult survivors of sexual abuse. She then expanded the program focusing on creative unblocking and psycho-spiritual artistic empowerment through bellydance. Hanan did her graduate studies focusing on Arabic Dance and Identity in Cuba focusing on Feminist, Dance and Diaspora theory analysis. In 2009, Hanan co-created the project “Ayiti Baladi” bringing Bellydance and empowerment to women and girls in Jacmel, Haiti. In addition to training talented dancers in Miami, Hanan is a published arts writer and critic, an interdisciplinary theater director and the newly appointed Executive Director of the Mideastern Dance Exchange, 501C3.
- ↑↓Sarah Johansson Locke is a performer, choreographer, and teacher whose work is inspired by her experience with several forms of traditional and contemporary dance, theater, yoga, and somatic modalities. As the Artistic Director of Alchemy Performance, Sarah has been at the forefront of establishing and cultivating the New York Tribal/Fusion scene since 2001. She directs two companies, Alchemy Dance Theater and the Alchemy Tribal Collective; teaches dance, yoga, and anatomy; curates and produces the HYBRID performance series and other events; and performs frequently. As a certified instructor of Yoga and Embodied Anatomy as well as a dance teacher with more than 15 years of experience, Sarah is known for her informed and inspiring classes which empower students to find a deep sense of body awareness and creative expression. Her performance style stands out for its strong yet meditative power, its ability to draw you in to a profound and sacred space. Alchemy Dance Theater and the Alchemy Tribal Collective are known for their dynamic movement vocabulary, fluid line, and intricate formations, as well as a strong group stage presence that has been called “mesmerizing“, “captivating“, “deeply moving“, and more. Sarah began her study of Tribal Bellydance in 1994 and was a member of Gypsy Caravan, the second Tribal troupe to exist, for several years before returning to NYC (where she grew up) to develop her own style of contemporary Tribal Fusion as an alchemy of her wide ranging theater, dance, and movement experience.Through her roots in the early development of the Tribal style, Sarah witnessed the gift and power of the dance to bring women deeply into themselves as well as strongly together into community. Since then, along with her experience in both traditional and contemporary dance as well as experimental theater, Sarah’s intensive study of yoga and anatomy has deeply informed the development of her dance style as both a performer and a teacher. Throughout her performance career, she has been involved with projects ranging from site-specific installations and street theater to international arts festivals and large theater productions, both across the U.S. and in Europe.
- ↑↓Kaeshi Chai was born in Brunei and brought up in New Zealand and Australia. She co-founded the New York-based dance company Bellyqueen with Amar Gamal in 1998 and has been it’s primary leader since 2005 overseeing artistic vision and choreographies. Kaeshi also co-founded PURE (Public Urban Ritual Experiment) [ www.pureglobe.org], a healing dance and music community, which has rapidly spread into many branches all over the US and internationally and has been PURE’s main facilitator since 2006.Kaeshi has performed and taught in many countries including the US, Canada, Europe, Mexico, Carribean, Australia, South America and throughout Asia. In 2002, she performed 5 shows a day to live Arabic music at Aladdin’s Desert Passage in Las Vegas. In 2003-2004, she was part of the first professional touring bellydance company in the world, The Bellydance Superstars and held the position of dance captain for the 2004 US & Canadian Spring tour. She has performed at Central Park’s Summerstage, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, Folie’s Begere in Paris, Bloomsbury Theater in London, Teatro Smeraldo in Milan and has made television appearances on Conan O’Brien as well as BBC’s Blue Peter. In 2006, she made history as the first US based dancer to teach a workshop in mainland China. From 2007-2009, she toured 6-13 dancers representing Bellyqueen Dance Theater through the United States 3 times, Canada 3 times, Western and Eastern Europe and Japan. This makes Bellyqueen the second most active touring bellydance company in the world next to the Bellydance Superstars. In 2009 and 2010, she was honored to be the featured soloist in Turkish dancer Ahmet Luleci’s Collage Dance Ensemble Boston and New York shows. Recently, she was invited to team up with the one and only Jillina for her Bellydance Revolution project.In between her extensive travels, Kaeshi co-hosts a weekly Wednesday night happening in New York’s east village called ” Djam Under JeBon” showcasing international and local talent, with live band, Djinn. She can be seen in the following DVDs: “Bellyqueen: The Bellydance Experience“, “Bellydance Jam“, “Bellydance NYC” by Bellyqueen; “Bellydance Superstars: Live in Paris at the Folies Begere“; “American Bellydancer“; and “Crazed: The Bellydance“. In her spare time, Kaeshi studies Mandarin through ChinesePod, enjoys foot massages, and drinking Soy Chai Lattes.
- ↑↓JeniViva has the distinct pleasure of being one of the pioneers of an alternative genre of dance: Gothic Bellydance. This genre blends the old with the new, adding a dark twist of Gothic elements to classic genres of Bellydance. The fruits of JeniViva’s efforts can be seen in numerous Gothic subculture magazines and websites. She also has been featured on the first ever Gothic Bellydance DVD by World Dance New York and performed in and appeared on the cover of the Gothic Bellydance 2: Revelations DVD. A native New Yorker, JeniViva’s dance training began at 3 years old at the Second Avenue School in Lower Manhattan. JeniViva’s training continued over the years: classical ballet with the Rabovsky family, dancing competitively in Jazz and Modern dance, and exploring her roots by studying Flamenco and Sicilian Folkdance.In addition to dance studies, JeniViva also majored in Theatre Arts at CUNY. Prior to fusing Gothic music and culture with Bellydance, JeniViva’s passion for Bellydancing was originally founded within the form of Classic Cabaret Bellydance. In 2001 JeniViva began her training in Egyptian Bellydance with such Master teachers as Rayhana, Jehan, and the late great Serena Wilson. Some years later JeniViva found a deeper connection to Turkish Oriental Cabaret Bellydance and also in the basics of Romani (Gypsy) dance having been heavily influenced by taking repeated workshops with Artemis Mourat, Eva Cernik, and Tayar Akdeniz.Today JeniViva performs and teaches both Classical Turkish Cabaret and Gothic Fusion Bellydance in New York City. She has also developed her own Gothic Bellydance technique entitled “The Serpentine Method©“. Jeniviva describes it as a technique that “fuses movements of Vict-Oriental, Gothic, Steampunk, Cabaret, Tribal Fusion, and Ritual Bellydance. The ultimate fusion of alternative Bellydance genres with a modern theatrical twist!” JeniViva has appeared on The Conan O’Brien Show, the WB 11, at The House of Blues, The Rainbow Room, and numerous prestigious nightclubs in NYC. JeniViva has performed for such clients as Jay-Z, Marc Jacobs, and Esquire Magazine and she recently had the pleasure of being cast as a featured dancer in the film Sex in the City Part 2.
- ↑↓Aepril Schaile is “An American priestess of the Dark Goddess” working through the ancient and ever-evolving arts of Bellydance, Music, Ritual Theater, and Divination. Aepril has taught and performed at curated events in Paris, NYC, L.A., Hollywood, and San Francisco. Aepril directs Exquisite Corpse Productions and is Artistic Director of Exquisite Corpse Dance Theatre. Aepril teaches ongoing classes in Boston and Salem, MA, and teaches traditional, theatrical, and shamanistic Bellydance workshops nationwide and internationally. In performance, Aepril becomes Trickster, Warrior, Ghost, Storm, Grieving Mother, Killer, Snow Queen, Seductress… Aepril’s performances invoke the archetypal Feminine as a force of nature and magick. Aepril is an astrologer, musician and composer, dancer and dance teacher, writer and storyteller, mythologist, animal rights advocate, and witch. Aepril is an AAFA certified Group Fitness Instructor, and she holds an MFA in Interdisciplinary Art.Aepril Schaile dances to make the archetypal Dark Feminine sacred again. Aepril is recognized for her pioneering innovation in dark theatrical, ritual and shamanistic bellydance. Her recent appearances include Spirit of the Tribes in Florida, Festival Bellyfusions in Paris, France, Night of 1000 Goddesses in NYC, An Evening of Experimental Middle Eastern Dance (EEMED) in Los Angeles, and she was a Guest Artist at Rakkasah’s Spring Caravan in NJ. Aepril teaches ongoing classes in Salem, MA, and teaches workshops both locally and nationwide. Aepril’s Exquisite Corpse Productions produces an annual theatrical bellydance event called Descent: Dances of the Dark Goddess; she annually co-produces The Art of Bellydance show with the Salem Arts Association in Salem, Massachusetts.Aepril became deeply immersed in the world of Spirits and Invisibles during a long period of voluntary solitude. There, while inhabiting the wild and magical coast and woods of northern New England with her wolf companion Coda, her heart was opened, and dance and music moved through her in a new and mediumistic way; she is inspired by forces of nature such as winged creatures, wolves, storms, and the sea; she is also inspired by the invisible forces of the subconscious, the supernatural, and the synchronistic. Aepril dances as a ritual of reverence to the Divine for Her powers of regeneration and redemption.Interested in times past as well as the Timeless, Aepril’s “ancestors” of dance include Ruth St Denis, Josephine Baker, and Isadora Duncan. She has been influenced and instructed by bellydance masters Elena Lentini and Dunya, as well as the performance artists Diamanda Galas and Rachel Rosenthal in her approach to performing.Visit Aepril’s website http://AeprilSchaile.com/
- ↑↓Blanca Born in Mexico and based in New York City, Blanca is a dancer, choreographer, teacher, and workshop leader. She incorporates metaphysical elements into her work and infuses her students with pure self-confidence. Blanca sees belly dance as a tool for communication, a performing art, and a compelling storytelling device all in one. She likens it to a yoga practice, something that can lead students to a different kind of enlightenment and awareness.Blanca recently wrapped a dance scene in the upcoming Sex and the City 2 and has been featured in 11 DVDs, including Sensual Bellydance which features her technique and dance style. Blanca has performed onstage with Alabina and Gogol Bordello. She has appeared with famous burlesque and film star Dita Von Teese. Her television credits include the Bollywood Music Awards (aired worldwide) as well as multiple appearances on Spanish television networks Univision and Telemundo, Fox and BBC. She has performed at venues as diverse as Trump’s Taj Mahal, the Brooklyn Museum of Art and Lincoln Center. She is a faculty member at the 92Y and teaches weekly classes at Serena Studios. Blanca has led workshops across the USA (including the Rakkasah East Festival) and Mexico. Upcoming workshops include Festival Isis in the Dominican Republic. Other credits include: Rolling Stone, Universal Pictures, MTV, and Disney. Over the past few years she performed, choreographed and produced in a variety of shows and workshops with her previous dance collectives Venus Uprising and CollexArts. www.BlancaDance.com www.SensualBellydance.com www.YouTube.com/sensualbellydance
- ↑↓Elisheva Elisheva is a 2nd generation Belly Dancer from NYC who started her studies as a young artist in Music, Theatre, Drama, and Dance. She has become an internationally acclaimed dancer, sought after for her signature fusion of aesthetics- Belly Dance fused with trained classical dance, jazz forms, and hip hop’s popping & locking. She has taught workshops, classes, and performed in dozens of countries around the world. She was the featured instructor at Hiptastic! 2010. Elisheva is currently featured on many available “Performance” DVDS and has 2 DVD instructionals available, her solo debut : “Tribal Fusion, Pop & Lock” and “Hard Candy”.HISTORY: She began performing jazz, tap, modern and lyrical dance with a children’s touring dance troupe located in NY’s Catskill mountains for 7 years. She focused on modern dance intensively in Performing Arts H.S. under the direction of original ‘Alvin Ailey 2‘ Artistic Director Tyrone Aikens and other noted teachers, at NYSSSA, ADF, then went on to finish her dance studies at The Ohio State University where she earned her BFA degree in Dance Performance under the direction of Susan Hadley (Mark Morris Co.), Bebe Miller (Bebe Miller Co.), Rosalind Pierson (Charles Weidman Co.), and Karen Elliot (Merce Cunnigham Co.), all of whom are part of the many important teachers who have influenced her abilities and talent. It was during those years that she challenged her art with an extensive program that allowed her to master choreography and Dance Labanotation©, creative work such as lighting design and extensive music studies, and Movement Theories such as the Alexander Technique©, Pilates©, and Bartinieff Fundamentals©. At the age of 15, she began her professional bellydance career at Lincoln Center’s Damrosh Park leading Serena Wilson’s and Renate Wallasch’s collaborative summer show.CURRENTLY: She now performs as company member and as the Dance Captain of NYC’s world-renoun bellydance company “Bellyqueen”( www.bellyqueen.com ) , and with “Venus Uprising” as a soloist. Elisheva has studied under the likes of many world wide acclaimed teachers and is Level 1 Certified in the Suhalia Salimpour format. Her passionate performances have allowed her to dance on stages with international powerhouses such as Oojami, and Elisheva’s extensive dance training has given her opportunity to tour and perform on and off-Broadway with Bellydance, Modern Dance Hip-Hop, Jazz. Her talents have been featured on television series (FOX), national commercials, news broadcasts, National Geographic’s Performance Theatre and award-winning Independent Films, as well as cabaret/dinner clubs all over the N.Y.C. and Long Island area for over 15 years.FOR MORE INFORMATION:
- ↓↓Kim Leary (Alexia) is a belly dance performer, choreographer and instructor in Central New Jersey. Kim Leary’s (Alexia) dance accomplishments include teaching both credit and non-credit dance at Princeton University. She is Co-Artistic Director of Groove Merchant Drum & Dance Ensemble and Co-Director of her school, The Drum & Dance Learning Center in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. Many of the group’s performances have been sponsored in part by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. Ms. Leary has performed at numerous prestigious venues such as Lincoln Center, The Ohio Theatre (SOHO), CAMI Hall (NYC), DanceSpace (NYC), FIT (NYC), The Evolving Arts Theatre (NYC), The Black Box Theatre (NJ), as well as at many colleges, universities, and festivals as a soloist and with her own dance company, SaZ Dance Theatre, Jamila Salimpour’s Bal Anat and Dalia Carella’s DNA Project. She also teaches at Rutgers University and Middlesex County College.
Groove Merchant Drum & Dance Ensemble Groove Merchant Drum & Dance Ensemble directed by Kim Leary (Alexia) and Dave Merritt performs dances and plays percussion instruments from cultures around the world. The ensemble performs culture-specific traditional pieces as well as our own original compositions. Some compositions are more traditional, loyal to the cultures that they represent while others are a fusion of musical ideas and traditions. Genres include but are not limited to Middle Eastern, Turkish, West African, Afro-Puerto Rican and Flamenco. Many of the group’s performances have been sponsored in part by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. Groove Merchant Drum & Dance Ensemble is the resident performance group of Alexia’s Belly Dance & Beyond located in Lawrence, New Jersey (Princeton area). Some of the group’s performances include the Monroe Arts Center, The Kenndey Center (Burlington), Two River Theatre, guest performers with Jamila Salimpour’s Bal Anat, Paramount Concerts on the Beach, Lafayette Grill NYC as well at many festivals and conventions.
For more info on Alexia & Groove Merchant, go to: www.drumdancecenter.com/performanceensemble.html
- ↓↓Andrea Beeman, the Enchantress of Bioluminosity, has shared her elegant & ethereal dance style with audiences in theaters, cabarets, restaurants, museums, & universities in NYC & abroad. Her versatile palette ranges from traditional ethnic dance to technologically savvy multimedia performance art. Performance highlights include opening for Rickie Lee Jones’ East Coast Ghostyhead Tour; dancing with the Rhode Island Symphony Orchestra; collaborating with the Minister of Lamination to present Lamination Rituals worldwide; starring in Amy Greenfield’s internationally acclaimed cinedance films Wildfire & Dark Sequins; and performing as part of the post-punk/new wave electronic dance music band Crash Course in Science. Andrea has been making short films & videos since 1987 & has been a dedicated teacher of the Middle Eastern dance arts since 1993. Her troupe the Dancing Rubies began performing in 2000 at NYC events, & in 2010 Andrea created the Sparks in the Dark to present her innovative, light imbued choreography. www.EnchantressofBioluminosity.com
- ↓↓De Nova Luce – Francesca Pedretti formed “De Nova Luce” in December 2010. Their first show Corpo a Corpo received excellent feedback, and they have not stopped since. De Nova Luce’s work draws upon a foundation of dance theater and adds Oriental dance, creating “Emotional Tribal” bellydance.
Francesca describes her work as the creation of choreographic sequences alternating with individual improvisation and reactions to different stimuli. With an emotionally expressive dance style, De Nova Luce translates narrative into shape. A background in Oriental dance is the common thread that unites Francesca’s company members and students. Her goal is to build from this base and cultivate new forms that evolve and alternate within the established patterns, creating choreographies that are very expressive and always different, because they are unique and unrepeatable. www.francescapedretti.it
- ↓↓Heléna Melone, M.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies/Dance Therapies from Lesley University, is an international performer and teacher, specializing in Arabic, American, and fusion styles of belly dance, as well as Roman (“Gypsy”) style and flamenco, having studied widely in the U.S. and in Turkey, Egypt, & Spain. She has fused her dance idioms into an original signature style, Flamenco-Belly fusion, which she has taught throughout the U.S. and in the U.K. Interviewed for her knowledge of flamenco for the novel “Flamenco Academy,” as well as for Oprah magazine, and selected to participate in the American Top Belly Dancer competition, Heléna is also a juried arts educator for the Maine Arts Commission and dance teacher at Phillips Exeter Academy. But at home in Maine, Water is her most patient and reliable teacher of strength, grace and fluidity in the movement realm, and Nature is Muse and Mentor in all areas of life, including her work painting silk veils! www.daturanightbloom.com
- ↓↓Jenny C. has had the pleasure to dance for most of her life. Having been on journey of studying Near Eastern influenced dance since 2002, Jenny C. has trained in the dance forms of hip hop, ballet, jazz, modern, tap and Polynesian dance. Currently Jenny C. is a soloist and teacher in American Style Tribal Fusion Bellydance: a conglomerate of Near Eastern based folk dance influenced by the art of ballet, the freedom of modern dance, and the many dynamic forms of hip hop. Please visit her website at www.dance18.com. “I believe that to dance is to find ourselves.” ~oxo Jenny C.
- ↓↓Kaitlin HInes – Since 1999, I have been dancing, performing and choreographing in a variety of different styles, primary of which are belly dance (Fusion, Egyptian and Turkish), modern dance and jazz. I graduated from Hampshire College with a Bachelors degree in choreography and creative writing in 2004, after which I went on to train in New York and perform in Middle Eastern dance companies such as The Casbah Dance Experience, Nadia Moussa Dance Company, Dalia Carella Dance Collective and modern dance companies including Shelley Poovey/BIGGRITS, Malleable Dance Theater, A.H. Dance Company and Elea Gorana Dance Collective. In 2009, I formed Kaitlin & Company using Stephanie Vartanian and Mariko Shirahishi as my main dancers. With this Company, I seek to make dances that develop character and storyline through a distinct fusion of dance vocabulary – dance that is a sometimes narrative, sometimes abstract conglomeration of forms designed to express feeling and situation without words. Find out about more at katraqs.weebly.com.
- ↓↓Karolina Having just taught theatrical belly dance on a Cheeky Girls Productions DVD, and currently touring as resident belly dancer for some of the NW’s most prestigious vaudeville and burlesque companies, Karolina is inspired to share her work in the developing field of belly dance for stage. A member of multi-award winning company, Belly Dance Soul Fire (Troupe of the Nation, Belly Dancers of the Universe 2009), she also holds titles in her own innovative work for fusion and theatrical belly dance styles: Ya Halla Y’all Peoples’ Choice Alternative Soloist 2010, Breakthrough Fusion Champion 2011, and Project Belly Dance finalist 2011. Having directed her own troupe at San Francisco State, choreographed for troupes in Portland, San Francisco, Boston, and more, she has years of experience bringing clear instruction to creative, ground-breaking ideas in belly dance. www.karolinabellydance.com.
- ↓↓Lisa Zahiya is an innovative, award-winning performer, in-demand instructor and successful studio owner. Working in the genres of bellydance, Indian dance (Bollywood & Bhangra) and urban dance forms, Lisa travels nationally and internationally teaching and performing.
In 2008, Lisa’s strong powerful style earned her the title “2008 Tribal Fusion Bellydancer of the Universe” and she went on to win the Alternative Category at the Wiggles of the West bellydance competition in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Lisa is on the faculty at the University of North Carolina, Asheville, where she teaches bhangra, hip hop and bellydance.
Lisa serves as a Resident Artist with the Lake Eden Arts Festival, working with 1st-8th graders in public housing communities and is also a Guest Dance Instructor with the Buncombe County School System. She teaches at two eating disorder recovery centers, helping women re-discover their bodies through movement, and teaches at the Swannanoa Correctional Facility for Women. www.lisazahiya.com
- ↓↓Najla is an Egyptian-style belly dance performer and instructor who brings the spirit of the Middle East to New York City and beyond through the beautiful art of belly dance. Her performances focus not only on the joy, entertainment, and excitement of dance, but also on presenting Middle Eastern dance in a positive, culturally informed light. She has been featured in The New York Times, The Village Voice, NY1 TV and the lifestyle blog Woman Around Town, and can be seen performing at various venues in New York City at private events in the area. Najla is a doctoral student in the Department of Art and Archeology at Princeton University and holds a BA in the History of Art from Yale University. Her academic research focuses on African art history and dance history.
- ↓↓Veronique ben Ahmed & the Compagnie Nejma Trained in ballet from the age of six, then in Baratha Natyam, Veronique Ben Ahmed joined the Company V.O. in 1993 as a Modern dancer under the direction of Olivier Viaud. After training in belly dance with Assia Guemra in Paris, Veronique created the professional dance company Nejma in 2003. Nejma presents Modern and Oriental dance choreographies. To this day, Compangie Nejma has created and presented three shows for all ages and two shows for children. Sponsored by the Egyptian choreographer Hassan Khalil, Veronique joined the International Dance Council of U.N.E.S.C.O. in January 2007. www.compagnienejma.org
- ↓↓Djinn Djinn is a modern blend of ancient party music with human beatbox, electronics, a taste of traditional middle eastern flavor, and a mouthful of NYC style. Composed by Carmine Guida , Pete List, Brad Mack and Fung Chern Hwei, Djinn has two albums released and available on their website and CDBaby: “The Middle East Side” and “Silent D”. They play at Je’bon every Wednesday. www.djinnnyc.com
- ↓↓ Scott Wilson and Efendi Back in 1959 when I was five years old, my mother, the famous belly dancer, Serena used to bring me with her to the Egyptian Gardens nightclub. She performed there every night in the heart of “Greektown” on 8th Ave, NYC. I was fascinated with the music of the oud, kanun, and bouzouki (the instruments of the mid-East). This is me, at 5, on my way to the Egyptian Gardens.
When I was 14, I wanted to be just like my idols- Chick Ganimian, John Berberian, Bob Zakian (where are you now?), and George Mgrdichian. I couldn’t find an oud at the time, so I built one out of a wooden box. Rip, my father teased me, calling it a “guitoud.” Rip plays the dumbek, the middle Eastern drum, so he helped me a lot.
I went to the Feenjon down in the village every weekend in the ‘70’s, to see Ali Hafeed, Avram Pengas, Manny Dworman and others perform. It wasn’t just that they were talented musicians, but they were incredible entertainers in a very competitive world back then. Long gone seems to be the musicianship combined with a sense of humor, as we are in a era of “serious,” “ethnically pure,” “mystical” dance to monotone dirges of music. Through the many years since my “guitoud” days I have had many wonderful opportunities to perform. I worked for Italian Cruise Lines in the 70’s playing oud and singing for cabaret belly dance shows throughout the Caribbean. The Turkish consulate brought me to Mexico to play music for the promotion of tourism to Turkey.
I studied the Turkish language for several years at NYU with Belgin Camli, a great teacher. I travel to Turkey every year to learn more music, study the language, and party. One of my greatest opportunities there was in the year 2000. I was on the Hulya Avsar Show, where I played my invention, the “baglama-Hydra” a combination oud, saz, and guitar-
I met and married Leni Cohen, the love of my life, after she belly danced with my group at Le Figaro. I then dragged her to Istanbul for our Bal Ayi (honeymoon). She often drums with me-
I now perform at the “Grisly Pear” on McDougal street every Sunday night-
I often play for belly dance classes at-
I still freelance at Grey Advertising, but also teach ukulele and magic in a New York public school!
You can reach me at-
- ↓↓ Beatbox Guitar The Brooklyn based duo, Beatbox Guitar create an innovative mix of flamenco, psychedelic rock, hip hop and punk. Human beatboxer, Pete List’s effortless flow of beat and breath on the mic showcases Rob Mastrianni’s intricate guitar and electric sitar stylings. Beatbox Guitar toured in Europe in 2010 and they perform regularly in the NY area.
Purchase from: CD Baby and Itunes.