Theatrical Bellydance Conference | New York City

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We wish to bring people together, to allow diverse artists to find common ground and interests. This is an environment where dancers of all bellydance styles can work together in classes, learn together and learn from each other. The instructors, who come from a variety of bellydance genres and backgrounds of experience, will be offering workshops that will have something for everyone; not just focused on genre-specific bellydance technique, but more on universals that everyone can feel a part of, and that you can apply to your own work.

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We have pulled together teachers from all styles and genres of bellydance to guarantee a well-rounded and inspiring learning experience. This year we are incredibly proud and excited to welcome the following new and returning artists to our conference family for 2013.

Our 2013 Conference Teachers

  • Anasma Co-Director Anasma is a performance arts dancer, teacher, choreographer, and artistic director. With Ranya Renee, she co-directs the Theatrical Bellydance Project. To her, dance is an expression of the self and of the soul that enables each dancer to share their deepest emotions and to be in the Now. Drawing from her cross-training in multiple arts forms (bellydance, hip hop, acting, miming, yoga, gymnastics, salsa, wushu, flamenco, modern jazz, contemporary Simonson technique, African, ballet…), Anasma focuses on making dance meaningful and touching through storytelling, character development, and aesthetic powerful movement.Half Tunisian and Vietnamese, living between Paris and New York City, 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.Seen in five continents and more than 30 countries, Anasma currently tours Europe, North and South America, and Asia to teach and perform. Anasma is featured in numerous performance DVDs, instructional DVDs, and a CD: “Bellydance Hip Hop Liquid Fusion,” “Wave Explosion,” “Bellydance Experience,” “Bellydance NYC: the Ultimate Fusion Experience,” “Fantasy Bellydance,” “Tarot Bellydance,” and “40 days and 1001 Nights,” and Pete List’s album “Songs for Kassar.” In 2012, she wrote, sang, recorded and released her first album, “Chance is Back,” produced by Blastermind. Since 1997, Anasma has performed and taught in dance festivals, intensives, theater shows, TV shows and concerts. From 2006 to 2009, Anasma worked with Bellyqueen as one of their principal dancers. In 2008, Anasma co-founded and co-directs the New York Theatrical Bellydance Conference with Ranya Renee. The project is presented in NYC, Paris, Stockholm … In 2009, Anasma created the interactive dance show “On Your Marks, Get Set, Dance!”/ “Avanti, Danziamo!”/”A vos boitiers, prets, dansez!” where the audience suggests themes for the performers to improvise to. It is presented in Paris, Rome, NYC, and Milan. In 2011, she teamed up with Zoe Anwar to create a new interactive show called “Animal City.” In 2010, Anasma founded WORLD CITIZEN DANCE, her production company.Join Anasma on Facebook.
  • Ranya Renée Co-Director 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 for more about Ranya’s work.
  • Blanca Associate Director, education and curriculum 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 appears in a dance scene in the movie 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

  • Aszmara Associate Director, curated performance programs “Dance is emotion in motion” describes accurately the quality of Aszmara’s dance. Performing and teaching workshops regularly 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 Timesdescribes 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 Habibimagazine for its 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 AAMEDHall 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. Visit
  • Elena Lentini Choreographer, designer and dancer trained in Middle Eastern dance with Ibrahim Farrah, mime with Stephan Neidzialkowsky and Christopher Yeatman of the Polish Mime Theater and flamenco with Maria Alba, Victorio Khorjian, and Mariano Parra.Lentini formed Caravanserai Dance Theater in 1988, presenting original choreographies expressing an abstract vision of the myths and rituals of ancient civilizations, returning again and again to its celebrated themes of evolution and metamorphosis…Jennifer Dunning of The New York Times wrote “Ms. Lentini…makes a strong case for Oriental Dance as a theatrical form.”The company has performed at Lincoln Center’s Bruno Walter Auditorium, The Queens Library, La MaMa Theater, Aaron Davis Hall, The Angel Orensanz Performance Space, Washington Square Church, Sarah Lawrence College, Nikolais/Louis Choreo Space, and The Hudson Guild Theater. Caravanserai accompanied Marbou Mines in productions at Yale University and The Brooklyn Academy of Music.Lentini has taught throughout the United States, in Canada, Australia, South Africa, Israel, Greece, Germany, The Netherlands, Turkey, and Japan … She has pioneered the incorporation of the Spanish/Arab dance zambra and the flamenco rumba into the Middle Eastern repertoire … In 2012 Elena Lentini and Simon Shaheen, the Arab/American oud and violin virtuoso composer, performed their celebrated music and dance piece “The Call” at the Pachango Casino Theater in California and CUNY Graduate Center in New York City. Also renewing a collaboration with Arturo Martinez in his production of “The Fugitive Peasant” performing at Alwan Center for the Arts and La MaMa Theater …A passionate and steadfast artist, Lentini’s work continues to develop through experimenting, teaching, and creating … “The riotous music, sumptuous customes, commanding authority, and starkly individual sensibility of Elena Lentini reveals new depths in this ancient form and a whole new world of possibilities.” – Stuart Hodes, The Dance Insider“Elena has captured the Middle Eastern quality of movement even into the very tips of her fingers” – Bessie Shoenberg Dance HistorianJudy Myers of Arabesque Magazine wrote of Lentini’s production “The Hand Of Fatima”- “brilliantly conceived, lavishly choreographed…yet paradoxically with the effect of a minimalist zen garden” Visit
  • Anahid Sofian is recognized as one of the country’s most innovative and versatile artists, who has expanded the creative range and appreciation of Middle Eastern dance. In a career spanning nearly five decades, Anahid has always attempted to stretch beyond limitations, both as a performer and a creator. Self-trained in Oriental dance, she was a pioneer in taking the dance out of the clubs and onto to concert stage, performing as a soloist and with her company, which she formed in 1979, in such mainstream venues as MOMA, Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, Town Hall, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the United Nations, and the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park, where she brought Oriental dance into the prestigious NY Dance Festival to rave reviews. Drawing on all her background training in ballet, modern dance, acrobatics, and jazz, Anahid has created a body of work that demonstrates her wide range as an artist, from curating Middle Eastern festivals with her company at Town Hall to her most ambitious work, a multi-media dance-drama entitled Passage through Light and Shadow: The Children of Ararat (2010), which inspired the Art Times critic to write: “This emotional and educational experience is one to be treasured and remarked upon for years to come. I urge anyone who loves dance, who enjoys poetry, who hungers for beauty, to try to see this production whenever or wherever it is presented.” Anahid established her NY studio in 1972, where she offers a full curriculum of classes encompassing all aspects of Oriental dance, and where she also sponsors such events as her Atelier Orientale, a performance series that provides artists with an opportunity to present new works in a relaxed, salon atmosphere. For more information, visit
  • Donna Mejia As a transnational fusion dance artist, Donna Mejia’s distinctive aesthetic dialogs the secular dances of North Africa and the Arab world with American hip hop dance and sub-genres of electronic dance. Donna also teaches the Brazilian Silvestre Dance Technique and is a primary representative after twenty years of practice. In October of 2011 she was selected by the Fulbright Association to present the 2011 Selma Jeanne Cohen Endowed lecture for International Scholarship in Dance, notably for her paper “Digital Diasporas and Transnational Dance Communities: The Effects of the Internet on Identity Formation and Collective Cultural Memory.” Donna has been guest artist in residence for twelve colleges, and received her Master of Fine Arts degree from Smith College on full fellowship. She joined the University of Colorado at Boulder’s dance department in 2012 as the first assistant professor of tribal fusion dance globally. She balances her time teaching and touring internationally to teach, lecture, and perform for private sponsors, festivals, and community organizations.
  • Dalia Carella Dalia Carella is a renowned Near/Middle Eastern and world fusion solo artist, choreographer, master teacher, and the Founder/Artistic Director of the Dalia Carella Dance Collective. Ms. Carella has delved deeply in Near Eastern dance and Turkish Roman dance, as well as flamenco, Indian, Bollywood/bhangra, Afro-Haitian, samba, salsa, bomba and plena from Puerto Rico and Western dance such as jazz and ballet. Ms. Carella’s numerous concerts and teaching tours have led her throughout the US, Canada, England, Puerto Rico, Switzerland, Germany, Spain, Portugal, China, and Japan, and she will be touring Italy and China in 2013.
  • TjardaTjarda is a genuine dancer with a broad-minded curiosity towards fusing bellydance and well-known for her innovative choreographies. She is the inventive force behind award-winning troupe The Uzumé Dance Company and The Amano Project and has received several grants to expand her knowledge or to develop new projects. Tjarda is a widely recognized instructor and performer and sought after throughout Europe and the USA. She holds certifications for teaching and dance therapy and still studies continuously to broaden her education. Blurring lines and drawing inspiration from even the most unlikely sources is the opening stance of all her choreographies and classes. Her work inspires many in finding their own path. Tjarda performs solo, with The Uzumé, The Amano Project, and as an honorary member in UNMATA, or you can spot her in collaborations with Samantha Emanuel and Anasma.
  • IllanUpon discovering tribal bellydance at age 11 watching Rachel Brice’s videos, Illan studied the art form with the Nejma Company for two years. In March 2007, he participated in a regional contest and obtained the first place, unanimously and with congratulations from the jury, leading him to the final National competition in May 2007, where he gained the first place in his category. Then onwards, he took workshops to improve his dance (Sharon Kihara, Rachel Brice, Anasma, Mardi Love …) and entered the Louis Liard high school in Falaise in 2008, where he chose dance as a primary option. In his time at school, he encountered a great number of choreographers in African & contemporary dances, and ballet (Dominique Duszynski, Jean Marc Piquemal, Jean Guizerix, Dominique Jegou …).Illan is a young self-made dancer who finds his inpiration in his everyday life, staying eager to discover always more to keep on growing.
    Different styles and atmospheres form his unique dance style. For more information:

  • OreetOreet is an award-winning performer and the creator of SharQui – The bellydance workout®. Her dance specialty is Modern Egyptian, which is a contemporary and innovative twist on the traditional Egyptian style. It fuses modern dance, ballet, and her Yemenite/Israeli roots to create her high-energy bellydance style.Along with teaching, Oreet certifies dancers and fitness professionals in the SharQui® bellydance format nationally. As a performer Oreet combines passion, grace, athleticism and hip precision in order to give a refined performance.
    Her titles include Bellydancer of the Year 2007, Entertainer of the Year 2006, Jewel of the Nile 2006, and Bellydance Diva 2005, and she is the reigning Middle Eastern Dance Champion of North America. For more info, visit

  • Yasmina Ramzy
    Yasmina Ramzy (Canada) is a visionary and a choreographer committed to the presentation of bellydance as high art. The years 1981 – 1995 were spent performing throughout the Middle East, often for royalty and heads of state. Yasmina Ramzy then founded the critically acclaimed Arabesque Dance Company and Orchestra and the International Bellydance Conference of Canada (IBCC). She received her key training from leading masters in Egypt and Syria including Aida Nour of the Reda Troupe and Mohammed Khalil, director of the National Folklore Troupe of Egypt. Her unique and highly creative choreographies have won numerous awards and have been commissioned by many dance ensembles internationally, including the Bellydance Superstars. Today, she regularly performs and teaches in over 60 cities on five continents. She has produced nine performance and seven instructional DVDs as well as seven CDs. Yasmina writes the “Ask Yasmina” column in the world’s largest bellydance magazine. As a mentor to many, she is well known for revealing the authentic, organic structure of Mid East dance and its relationship to Arab music.
    “Most unique and beautiful choreography (Prayer to Nuit)” Nagua Fouad
    “Her choreography (Inta Omri) proves bellydance is art” Randa Kamel

  • Sarah Skinner
    Sarah Skinner is known for her mastery of belly dance, superb technique and lovely veil work. Sarah Skinner is a multi-talented artist: An innovative, mesmerizing performer and highly-acclaimed dance instructor, she is also well-known for her artistry as a dance photographer and unique costume designer. Sarah Skinner has been exploring bellydance through a diverse range os styles, always maintaining her signature qualities – lyrical, highly-emotive flow of the dance, fluid and expressive body line, precise and rich technique. From NYC and now based in Toronto, Sarah teaches and performs around the world. Her twelve instructional and performance DVDs are internationally acclaimed and have been published in a number of languages. Sarah performs in professional theater shows, at private events, and at high-end clubs with the top bands.
    For more information, visit

  • 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 its primary leader since 2005, overseeing artistic vision and choreographies. Kaeshi also co-founded PURE (Public Urban Ritual Experiment) [], a healing dance and music community that 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 around the world, in the US, Canada, Europe, Mexico, the Caribbean, Australia, South America, and throughout Asia. In 2002, she performed five 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 and Canadian spring tour. She has performed at Central Park’s Summerstage, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, Folies Bergere 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 three times, Canada three 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 Evolution 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. 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 and enjoys foot massages and drinking soy chai lattes.
  • 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, and An Evening of Experimental Middle Eastern Dance (EEMED) in Los Angeles, and she was a guest artist at Rakkasah’s Spring Caravan in New Jersey. 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, MA. 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
  • Pete List (New York City) is well-known in the tribal bellydance world as a producer, musician, and human beatboxer. After performing for years as an integral part of the bands Djinn and Beatbox Guitar, Pete is re-exploring his solo career, creating live loops of human beatbox and shahi baaja, an Indian electric instrument, to build textures and create songs that embody the sound and power of a full band. Pete has produced multiple DVD soundtracks and eight albums, including the recent “A Charming Demise,” and will be performing his latest work from his new CD “Beatbox Baaja.” Pete and Anasma have combined their talents numerous times in composition and performance, but now they are excited to bring this collaboration into the teaching arena. Visit Pete’s website

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