Introducing our amazing dance teachers for 2018!
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, 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.
Tamara is a graceful and passionate dancer, with an effortless and natural style reminiscent of the Egyptian dancers of old. Throughout her dance career, spanning more than 28 years, Tamara has worked with musicians, performing at festivals, concerts and functions around Australia . As a dancer and musician, Tamara has gained a reputation for her understanding and interpretation of music and her skills as a performer and teacher. Tamara and her husband Mike Taylor, directed and produced concerts with the Australian Arabic Orchestra in 2013, and Tamara was the AAO’s principal dancer and choreographer. Tamara also toured in 2013 with The Bridge Project appearing on ABC 7.30 Queensland, and has been a solo dancer with renowned musicians, such as oud virtuosos Anwar Abudragh and Christos Baltzidis, and bands Xenos, Camoon and Skorba, as well as bellydance band Muziz (which Tamara created in 2005). Tamara currently plays riq and dances with Brisbane based Arabic music ensemble, Shanasheel.
A teacher of Orientale dance for more than 23 years, and something of a nomad, Tamara has taught hundreds of women how to dance in various locations such as, Byron Bay, Melbourne, Brisbane and Maleny. Tamara has also taught many workshops at major festivals, such as Woodford Folk Festival and Brisbane Festival, and at Bellydance festivals. In 2001, Tamara had the honour of teaching workshops with renowned musician Omar Faruk Tekbilek (alongside Terezka Drnzik). Tamara has also worked closely with drummers, Faisal Zedan, Andy Busuttil and Mike Taylor to create drum, dance and musical interpretation workshops for dancers.
Founder and creator of the Bahar Bayram camp, Tamara is motivated by her love of dance and music and her heartfelt desire to facilitate the opportunity for creativity and community for all.
As the principal of Inspire Bellydance in Sydney, Rachel is passionate about inspiring others to find joy, expression and fulfilment through dance. Rachel is an energetic performer with an infectious smile, and a self-confessed festival junkie: she just can’t stop learning! Yasmina of Cairo and Paivi Mielikainen have been her major inspirations and mentors. 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; all of which influence her performance style. Career highlights so far include major stage productions with Farrah: The Egyptian Dance Artists (2013) and Bellydance Evolution (2014), winning the People’s Choice Award at the bellydance competition in 2010 judged by Dina, studying with master teachers in Egypt, and teaching/participating at the Bahar Bayram Middle Eastern Dance Camp in 2014 and in New Zealand in 2015.
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 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’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.
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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 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.