Below are our amazing dance teachers for 2018! Stay tuned for our 2020 line-up.

Nikki Irwin

Dancing from the age of three in many of the more conventional disciplines of dance including ballet, modern, jazz, tap and acrobatics, in her teens, Nikki was introduced to the world of contemporary dance. She performed with STEPS Youth Dance Company where she worked with dancers and choreographers from the West Australian Ballet Company, 2 Dance Plus, Chrissie Parrot’s Dance Collective, Claudia Alessi and Ruth Osborne. Being the daughter of prominent Australian instructor and researcher, Shaheena, Nikki was bellydancing from a young age. After an extended period working overseas, she returned to teach at Bellydance Central and perform with the Mystique Dance Company. Drawing from a diverse background, Nikki is known for her original, intricate choreographies and challenging technique, as well as her passion for teaching.

Since 2009, Nikki has been collaborating with Nanda on their “Vintage Bellydance ©” series. Based on their own unique combination of skills and experience, Nanda and Nikki find inspiration from the dancers of the Egyptian Golden Era of film, creating timeless, theatrical choreographies for stage. Nikki is Director of Bellydance Central in Perth, Western Australia which runs classes in all levels of bellydance, including Vintage Bellydance ©, American Tribal Style (Pure ATS with Raven), Children’s Bellydance, & Bollywood (with Justina Periera). Nikki has also over the past 5 years developed a Special Needs bellydance program which she facilitates weekly with phenomenal success. The class was the catalyst for an overhaul of her teaching methodologies and has been amongst her most rewarding life experiences. Bellydance Central is a partner in WAMED Festival, presented in Perth each June.

Xaeda Raqasa

Xaeda Raqasa, has been a performer and dancer for as long as she can remember. At a young age she was trained in Polynesian, hip hop, jazz and ballroom, then in 2001 began her journey into Middle Eastern Dance. Though she currently resides in Brisbane, Xaeda was formally based in Coffs Harbour NSW where she developed her dance school Sacred Lotus Bellydance and became a regular teacher and performer at WAMED and Newcastle Bellydance Festival along with Adelaide Belly Dance Festival, Serpent Rising, Intertwine, DecaDance, SydMedFest and Pyramid Pulse.
More notably known for her fusion and theatrical influences Xaeda’s path always returns to her roots in the Folkloric and Classical styles. She was a member of both Middle Eastern band Zanuba and percussion troupe Tarab where she established her improvisation techniques and has not just enjoyed being able to dance alongside a live orchestra but to play for other performers as well.
Her artistic talents also lie in her choreography, costuming and henna designs, all of this has helped to develop Xaeda’s unique and diverse approach to dance, musicality and stage craft.
Xaeda is a recognised teacher of the “Dancing from the Heart” method by Shemiran Ibrahim and in 2012 began a mentorship with Amera Eid before co-hosting the Bula Belly Dance Retreat in Fiji.
One of Xaeda’s highlights was being invited to perform with Helm during their tour of Australia in 2016. She will be returing to Perth for this year’s WAMED festival and is honoured to be a part of Bahar Bayram.

Päivi Mielikäinen

Year 2018 marks the 30th anniversary of Päivi’s Oriental Dance journey, with adventures in other dance forms, drama and circus studies before that. This year also marks a new beginning in her dance life; after a few challenging years that almost brought an end to her dance career, Paivi is reclaiming the rhythm!
The main focus of Paivi’s dance and teaching is Egyptian Dance and Folklore, with emphasis on feeling and reaching out to the audience, and strong technique that allows you to do that. Her main inspirations are The Reda Troupe and its stage craft, Egypt and its many fabulous dancers, both old and new, and of course the Egyptian people. But more than anything else, she is grateful to her own students, both past and present, for their enthusiasm, dedication and all those wonderful questions that needed answers and opened so many opportunities for further exploration and learning. Keep those questions coming!
In her native Finland, Paivi was active as the President and Artistic Director of the national Oriental Dance Association, she was also a founding member of their Teacher Education Program, and the Oriental Dance Summer Festival that was established in 1996 and to her delight is still running. In her 20 years here in Australia, she has been running workshops and classes, first in Sydney, and now, after a break in regular teaching, starting weekly classes again in her current hometown Newcastle. She is also continuing as the Artistic Director of Farrah: Fananat al Raks al Masri, a Sydney based Egyptian dance troupe she established with her students in 2003. Farrah performances and workshops are based on the extensive, ongoing research and study of its dedicated members. Paivi is also the dancing member of the Sydney/Blue Mountains music ensemble Oasis, having the privilege of translating the wonderful tunes created by Andy Busuttil, John Napier and Llew Kiek into movement.

Rachel Bond

As the principal of Inspire Bellydance – Sydney’s biggest bellydance school – Rachel is passionate about inspiring others to find joy, expression and fulfilment. During her 20-year journey so far, bellydance has brought her confidence, health, personal growth, friendships, and community; she wants to help facilitate similarly positive experiences for everyone lucky enough to encounter Oriental dance. 
Rachel’s focus is on Egyptian dance styles and adapting them to the Australian context. She loves the richness and fun of folklore, the grace of classical Oriental, and the power and expressiveness of contemporary Egyptian dance. As a performer, Rachel is energetic and joyful with an infectious smile. Career highlights so far include major stage productions with Farrah: The Egyptian Dance Artists and Bellydance Evolution, winning the People’s Choice Award at the Australian bellydance competition judged by Dina, studying with master teachers in Egypt, and teaching regularly at top events such as Bahar Bayram, WAMED, and internationally. But it’s the small things, like jamming with the Nubian woman who did her henna art in her house in Aswan, or on the streets of Cairo at a spontaneous party, that have deepened her love of Egyptian culture the most. Rachel recently became the first Australian to complete all 4 levels of Sahra Saeeda’s in-depth “Journey Through Egypt” dance ethnology course. Staying in Aswan and Luxor to gain a deeper understanding of the culture, she was fortunate to study privately with the top teachers in Nubia and the Saiid. Rachel is thrilled that other dancers also care about the role of dance in its homelands, and is keen to share her knowledge with eager participants at the Camp. 

Alice Knox

Alice is the first Australian dancer to complete Rachel Brice’s Datura Style Teacher Training. She offers classes in Datura Style bellydance in Brisbane. Alice took Egyptian bellydance classes for years until a chance click on a YouTube clip introduced her to tribal fusion, and basically exploded her world. Inspired she began her journey into modern bellydance styles including tribal fusion, American Tribal Style (ATS)® and Datura Style bellydance. Alice has trained with talented Australian dancers and has travelled around Australia and overseas to learn from the innovators of tribal fusion. Alice is a certified practitioner of the 8 Elements approach – Rachel Brice’s training program. She has also completed intensives with Mardi Love, Zoe Jakes, Kami Liddle, Illan, Ashley Lopez, Jill Parker and the Lady Fred. In early 2014 Alice won the tribal section of the casting competition for the Australian production of Bellydance Evolution – Dark Side of the Crown. One of four tribal dancers cast for the show she performed on stage with Jillina and Sharon Kihara in Sydney. Since then she has performed in bellydance stage shows and at festivals in Australia, New Zealand and the United States. Closer to home Alice also performs tribal fusion as both a soloist and as a member of Dark Nile.

Michelle Ridsdale

MichelleMichelle loves all forms of dancing and has been bellydancing for over 10 years. She has travelled to Egypt, Turkey, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan and has trained with a variety of master teachers in order to expand and develop her knowledge and technique. Michelle particularly enjoys exploring the unique regional styles of the Silk Road from the Middle East into Central Asia and beyond.

Michelle regularly teaches Bellydance and Bollywood, and has taught at WAMED festival since 2012. Michelle is a polished performer with an infectious energy who has been placed in many competitions both nationally and in Asia. Michelle is a regular performer in Perth and a member of Raks Harissa. She is founder of the popular Bollywood Dhamaka! performance troupe known for high energy entertainment.

Margaret Cunningham

Margaret Cunningham

Margaret’s love of Middle Eastern and Romani dance is contagious! With over a decade of study, travel, performance and teaching, Margaret offers a deep insight into the cultures and contexts behind everything she teaches. Margaret has a reputation as a patient and precise instructor with an uncanny ability to break things down and get you moving in record time! Margaret conducts annual guided tours to Egypt hoping to infect as many people as possible with Egypt’s magical spirit and the essence that underpins such incredible music and dance. Her other passion is the Romani (Gypsy) dance and music traditions of the world. Not content with the diluted and fantasy-driven representations of Gypsy dance, Margaret has visited and learned from Romany communities in Turkey and Eastern Europe and brings pure, authentic Gypsy dance to her teaching and performing repertoire.

Sameer Ellagta

SameerAl Zayton on Facebook

In 2014, Sameer Ellagta founded Al Zayton Palestinian Dabke troupe which performs regularly at events & festivals around Brisbane and Queensland. Honouring the cultural roots of Palestine through the strength of their rhythmic stomping, dynamic energy and expressive spirit, Al Zayton is known for getting huge crowds up dancing and holding hands when their dabke line takes off with full force to celebrate life. Dabke is a traditional dance for celebrations and combining invigorating sounds of the Levant and the strong exhilarating movements synchronised by dancers forming a line to connect with each other and the spirit of the heartfelt folk melodies.

Cindy Schwenn

Cindy Schwenn is a performer and director of contemporary circus and physical theatre.  A storyteller at heart, Cindy’s work sits in the genre of magical realism, weaving modern day true stories with traditional tales through physical movement, rich visuals, spoken word and music to illustrate the timeless beauty of human connection.  Cindy’s theatrical form has been influenced by the gesture and acrobatic display of Indian dance from her training and travels to India and her recent trips to Iran have inspired her to develop cross-cultural performances in collaboration with Iranian artists.


BellaDonna is a must see belly dance artist with highly energetic performances and charismatic personality. She has wowed audiences all over the world with a dance style that is truly captivating. BellaDonna has been performing and teaching for over 20 years and has acquired a wealth of experience. Belladonna has trained with Master Teachers and performers from all over the world; including Terezka Drnzik, Dr Mo Gedawi, Aida Nour and Hossam and Serena Ramzy just to name a few. During her recent overseas travels Belladonna has taught and continued her studies in Egypt, Greece, Singapore, India, Japan and New Zealand. BellaDonna has traveled through India spending time with the Gypsies of Rajasthan exploring their dance forms and also learning a variety of Indian Temple Dance styles. In 2000 BellaDonna formed her own dynamic bellydance and tribal fusion dance troupe “SnakeWeave” whose upbeat gypsy grooves and dynamic Bollywood Shows have proved a favorite at the regular Bellydance and medieval festivals. BellaDonna is also a member of the Byron Bay ATS dance troupe The Bare Foot Gypsies.