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.

Our 2014 Conference Directorial Team

        • 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

        • Kelley McKinnon is thrilled to join up with the Theatrical Bellydance Conference. She has Directed, Assistant Directed and Stage Managed for the American Globe Theater and the American Shakespeare Center in addition to new works with the Turnip Festival in NYC.

Meet Our Fantastic 2014 Conference Staff

    • Nisreen was introduced to Middle Eastern dance in New York City in 2004 and has been shimmying ever since! When she isn’t dancing or teaching, you can find her doing administrative work for Ranya Renée and for the Theatrical Bellydance Conference. Visit her website at
    • Jenny As co-founder of World Belly Dance Alliance, an organization dedicated to the preservation and betterment of the dance community, Jenny is also a teacher and produces dance events focused on training and education in addition to producing shows. With a diverse background including dance, martial arts, personal training, event planning, marketing, and public relations, she teaches and performs a fusion style of belly dance incorporating other dance genres. In addition to her WBDA projects, Jenny is a member of Sophistique Dance Company and also performs with vaudevillian theatrical company, Daring Dames & Vaude Villains. She can also be seen performing and touring with the band, Aviva and the Flying Penguins. Jenny believes everyone should do what they love without self-imposed limits or judgment. It’s all about the art, the expression, and the process.
    • Amina (Wendellyn Ladapo) Director of Zazzua Dance Company has studied dance 18 years within the North African Diaspora and 10 years specifically dedicated to belly dance technique. She has studied Classical/Modern Oriental, Folkoric Egyptian, Turkish and American Tribal Style (ATS) belly dance. Amina has studied and received certification under Carolina Nerricio within the American Tribal Style-Fat Chance Belly Dance format (Jan 2010). She has trained under Megha of Devyani, Yousry Sharif Prodigy- Mary Gaston, Anasma of World Citizen Dance/ Co-Director of New York Theatrical Belly Dance Conference, Samara Choreographer and New York Raqs Sharqi Artist and Mira Betz. Other influences and training include Yousry Sharif, Mohammed Shahin, and Aszmara of AMMED Award Winning Middle Eastern Dance Company and many more!Amina began studying belly dance under the instruction of Julie Downum of Urban Tribal and Andrea Perkins at Zanzibar Studio in Chattanooga, TN in 2004. She took a Mother/Daughter belly dance class at the invitation of a friend since she was unable to continue with Modern dance classes due to lack of adult classes. Amina instantly fell in love with the art form and has studied extensively ever since. Amina has expanded her knowledge of the belly dance art form known as Raqs Sharqi under the direction of Mary Gaston of Love Lotus. These forms include Classical and Modern Oriental, traditional Egyptian and Turkish. Zazzua under the direction of Amina offers the unique ability to combine singing, dancing and theater for special events. Performances include public and private venues throughout the Southeast/Eastern United States. We have been featured on stage in Chattanooga’s annual 14 day event “Riverbend”, “Skyfest Regional Show & Expo” in Rockmart, GA, West Kentucky Rootsworker Festival, Chattanooga Culturefest, the Chattanooga Zoo Annual Fundraiser the “Banana Ball”, Bessie Smith Cultural Holiday Event and the University of Tennessee Culturefest. Zazzua has also produced and participated in other theatrical productions most recently “The Silk Road”, “Cairo Blues Yesterday and Today”, “Night of the Oasis”, “Collaboration and Creation: The Edge of Music and Dance”.
    • Aakriti‘s bio coming soon!
    • Mary Linda Gastonhas lived, studied, and danced all over the world. With a BFA in Glass and Textiles from Tennessee Tech, she is a dance studio owner, event coordinator, troupe director, and producer of shows in Chattanooga, TN. She can also be found assisting others abroad. Mary’s currently working as costume designer creating one of a kind & limited production costumes for dancers.
    • Krista Sassanidislikes writing about herself in the third person, but is happy in most other modes of expression. Her formal dance training began at age 8ish, and injuries led her to study creative writing and later, massage therapy. Returning to dance with a much larger understanding of anatomy and physiology, she has been able to fuse her love of physical expression with a deep respect for the body. And that powerful outlet has led to a more authentic voice in her writing and healing practice. Traditionally the dancer is a mostly-silent artist. It’s time to go beyond the breath. It’s time to make some intentional noise. Visit her website at or on Facebook at
    • Tara-Marie Mahootian (“Tee”Marie) is a devo”Tee’ of the Sacred Feminine (Her beauty, strength, wisdom and sensuality) as manifested in multivariate forms in all cultures, across time, and in both genders. She is a Brooklyn resident, cancer survivor and mother of three. Licensed as a Clinical Social Worker in 4 states, she has worked in various mental health agencies and conducted a private practice of analytic-transpersonal psychotherapy for many years. She cultivates an interest in middle eastern music and dance with a “whole”-istic psychology of mind-body balance and integration. She conducts a personal and scholarly pursuit of the melding of pre-cognitive, primordial dimensions of the body & psyche through various techniques. This melding and integration serves as a portal to shared archetypal, interpersonal and transcendent experience. She is a former member of the Washington Area Middle Eastern Dance Assn (WAMEDA) and has danced professionally in the Washington Metropolitan area. In NYC, TMarie studies and performs Egyptian Belly Dance under the tutelage of Nyota Nayo, and she enjoys dancing and playing percussion with the drumbeat of her husband, Farzad.
    • Farzad Mahootianhas enjoyed middle eastern dance since he was in utero. At NYU he teaches the intertwined global history of ideas, as captured by various cultures through their sacred texts and other great works of literature, art, science and spirit. Formally trained in philosophy and chemistry, his personal interests center on the art-science interface where metaphor, myth, poetry and technology activate creativity. He enjoys all forms of music and dance, especially fusions of traditional and modern cultures, and occasionally plays congas and djembe with Park Slope’s Fifth Street band.
    • A lifelong dancer, Nabila has been performing dance and theater with her signature dynamic flair in the New York area for more than 15 years. A graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, she has extensive studies in several dance forms. She began studying Middle Eastern dance with the legendary Serena Wilson and went on to study with Azza Amon, Ranya Renée, Anahid Sofian, Dalia Carella, and Elena Lentini, among others.

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