Internationally acclaimed dance star Princess Farhana has performed, taught and written about Oriental Dance (belly dance) and burlesque for seventeen years. She has appeared in Egypt, France, Switzerland, Belgium, The United Kingdom, Portugal, Mexico and Canada, as well as all over the US, and belly danced at concerts with Arabic superstars Amr Diab, Hakim, Natacha Atlas, and Alabina.
As a belly dancer, she was voted “Oriental Dancer Of The Year 2006” by Zaghareet Magazine, and in 2007 was nominated for “Best Instructor” and “Best Interpretive Artist”. In May of 2007, The Princess received an award from The City of Los Angeles for her continuing artistic contributions to the community
She is also a regular contributor to belly dance publications Jareeda, Zaghareet, The Chronicles, Habibi, and The Belly Dancer Magazine, LARAQS.COM and BHUZ.COM and has written about Oriental Dance and burlesque in many mainstream publications as well.
As a burlesque artist, she has been a judge at the USA’s legendary international burlesque competition, The Miss Exotic World Pageant, and is a returning workshop teacher at Tease-O-Rama, the largest burlesque festival in the country. She has been featured on the cover of the belly dance publications The Chronicles and Jareeda Magazine, as well as on the cover of the London Sunday Review’s feature on American Burlesque.
For eleven years, she was a featured soloist in America’s premiere burlesque troupe, The Velvet Hammer, and starred in two documentary films on the troupe, as well as in A&E’s ‘”This Is Burlesque”.
She’s acted and danced in numerous motion pictures; music videos (for Madonna, Ricky Martin and many others) television shows; and in documentary films on belly dance and burlesque both performing and as an interview subject. Her most recent film credit is as sword dancing coach and assistant choreographer for the major motion picture “Charlie Wilson’s War” (December 2007) starring Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts
Since April 2006, she has been the featured dancer in comedian Margaret Cho’s touring variety show, The Sensuous Woman, and also appeared dancing and being interviewed in a special segment on Margaret Cho’s latest DVD, “Assassin”. Princess Farhana recently completed a six-week Off-Broadway run of “The Sensuous Woman” at the Zipper Theater in Manhattan.
She has produced a number of dance events, as well as eight instruction / performance DVD videos, including the first-ever instructional burlesque DVD, “Boom Boom: Hot Burlesque Moves For Cool Chicks”. The Princess is an activist and advocate for women’s body image and self-esteem issues, and regularly lectures on the subject. Live onstage, she is known for her high-concept, innovative performances, dazzling stage presence, impeccable technique and glittering custom hand crafted costumes. Her warmth, enthusiasm and adventurous spirit - on and off stage- captivate audiences and students alike.
For more information visit www.PrincessFarhana.com
Rachel Brice first fell in love with Belly Dance after watching the famous Hahbi'Ru at the Northern California Renassance Faire in 1988 and began taking Cabaret Belly Dance classes right away. In 1999, she decided to study full time, and relocated for the University program in Dance Ethnology at San Francisco State. In 2001, Rachel began her study of Tribal Belly Dance and was a member of Jill Parker's Ultra Gypsy in the Spring of 2001. In 2002 she began study with Carolena Nericcio, with whom she still studies. In 2003 she was discovered by rock mogul Miles Copeland and began touring internationally with his company, Belly Dance Superstars. Also in 2003 she founded The Indigo Belly Dance Company. When home, Rachel studies with her teachers Suhaila Salimpour, and creator of American Tribal Style, Carolena Nericcio, and Yoga with Gary Kraftsow.
For more information visit www.theindigo.net
Margaret Cho is one of the most prolific and critically acclaimed comedians of our time. In the past eight years she's launched four sold-out national tours, turning each into a concert film. A true entertainment pioneer, Cho is currently developing "The Sensuous Woman," a live variety show featuring vaudevillian comedy, burlesque, and bellydance. Showcasing an impressive lineup of comedians, bellydancers and burlesque superstars, "The Sensuous Woman" is currently being developed for an off-broadway run in NY. Says Cho, "There's a lot of gender swapping and gender play. It's the gayest show you could have with women stripping in it." In June of 2007, Margaret hosts a 15 city True Colors Tour. Performers include Cyndi Lauper, Debbie Harry, Erasure, The Dresden Dolls, The Gossip and The Misshapes, plus special guests like Rufus Wainwright, The Cliks, Rosie O'Donnell and the Indigo Girls in select cities.
For more information visit www.MargaretCho.com
The eyes - brilliant and blue. The gaze - captivating and mysterious. Poise, grace, hypnotic movement and many years of discipline create the mystique, the magic that is John. John Compton is America's first dancer in the "Khawal" genre since the Chicago World's Fair of 1893. John's years of dance experience, a dynamic style and genuinely warm personality make him a superb instructor as well as a truly exciting performer. His amazing track record of major shows, night clubs, media appearances and workshops extends through the U.S. and Canada. He initially studied under the legendary Jamila Salimpour and received additional training in the folkloric style from Patti Farber. He first performed as a featured soloist in Jamila Salimpour's Bal Anat in the early 1970's, then in Patti Farber's folk dance ensemble, Baba Ganooj. In 1976 he formed his own show, Kos-Kadas, the opening extravaganza for the King Tut exhibit at the De Young Museum in San Francisco. He is the Co-Founder and Co-Director of The Hahbi'Ru Middle Eastern Dance Ensemble.>
For more information visit www.hahbiru.com
Kajira has devoted her career to the proliferation of American Tribal Style (ATS) belly dance. Though skilled in many other traditional dance forms, this specialty chose her due to its "no borders" sense of creativity, its modern approach to ancient ways and its capacity to bring dancers together nearly psychically through its unique structured group improvisational dancing. After 8 years under the tutelage of Carolena Nericcio (creatrix of the form and director of FatChanceBellyDance), Kajira went on to develop her own particular format for the ATS Style that sets it apart from that of her teacher's and others in the genre. She is author of The Tribal Bible and writes an ongoing tribal Q&A column in Zaghareet magazine. She has been the recipient of numerous awards. Kajira is the producer of the first and largest Tribal belly dance festival in the world, Tribal Fest - held in the Northern San Francisco Bay Area each May.
For more information visit www.blacksheepbellydance.com
TONYA and ATLANTIS
Mother and daughter duo Tonya and Atlantis have produced over 100 bellydance videos and DVDs. The Belly Dancer of the Universe Competition series featuring Tonya and Atlantis with talents from across the Universe, competing for the most coveted title in our field, "The Belly Dancer of the Universe." "NEW" MEGA STARS DVD series with featured champions of the Belly Dancer of the Universe Competitions past and present in their award-winning once-in-a-lifetime performances. All this along with Tonya, Atlantis and their dance company "Of Veils & Incense with Essence of Veils" - a DVD sure to please. Worthy of anyone's DVD collection, student or professional. Tonya and Atlantis are also musically accomplished with their CD "Ecstasy in Bellydance, Volume I, featuring Tonya's lyrics and vocals along with Clarinet and Bouzouki artistry by Andreas Chianis, Greek Musician Extraordinaire! This CD has a 27 minute routine for the Professional Universal Dance Stylist. PLUS the NEW CD "Atlantis" - Ecstasy in bellydancing Volume 2 featuring routines for the Universal, Egyptian and Fusion artists.
For more information visit www.Tonya-and-Atlantis.com
RACHEL LAZARUS SOTO
Rachel Lazarus Soto, aka Blue Damsel, is an experimental performance artist using tribal style belly dance as a foundation and adding ethnic sensibilities from many cultures and dance forms. She is currently immersed in a haze of all things Asian, which can be readily seen in her performances. Rachel teaches regular classes in the Inland Empire of California, and workshops around the country (and soon internationally!) sharing her insights into body awareness, movement, and stylization within belly dance. Blue Damsel is also the name of her performance group, featuring collaborations with other dancers of similar minds.
For more information visit www.bluedamsel.org
In addition to sharing his love of the drum with audiences, Donavon has developed an interest in ethnomusicology, amassing an archive devoted to contemporary dobbat iqaa – officers of rhythm, the Arabic term for percussionists. He compiles information about the prominent players in the genre, and videos of them playing, and posts them on the Internet. This burgeoning library can be found at www.iqaat.com. He and Zedan have traveled to Turkey together to research, interview and record drummers. He has also spent time in Egypt and Morocco and hopes to travel throughout the Arab world. Donavon is one of very few Americans in Southern California working in the Arabic style. He’s also something of an oddity in that most of his colleagues have been immersed in the music all of their lives, whereas he did not come by it until he was nearly 30.
For more information visit www.iqaat.com
Lee is dedicated to teaching and preserving the dance and folk traditions of Morocco and the Middle East. Her Mom is Moroccan and her Dad is Turkish-Armenian. Dancing professionally since childhood, Lee has performed more than 2,000 dance shows in the US, and abroad including a two-year road tour in Greece. For eight years, she was director of her own dance studio in the Arab quarter of Brooklyn, New York, where she taught Middle Eastern dance, weight training and yoga. She is an IDEA certified fitness trainer and a certified yoga instructor from the Satchidananda Ashram. In 1996, Lee produced and directed a documentary film entitled Belly Dancing In America, an examination of the diversity and controversies within ethnic dance. A skillful Middle Eastern percussionist, Lee plays a variety of instruments and sings in four languages including Arabic, Turkish, French & Greek. She holds bachelors degrees in Psychology and pre-medical Biology from UC, Irvine.
For more information visit www.BellyDanceTheater.com
Abby has a punk rock pedigree worthy of royalty and undisputable street cred dating back to the tender age of sixteen, when she played bass for The Love Dolls, a tongue-in-cheek combo spawned from director Dave Markey’s underground cult film of the same name. During the 1995 Lollapalooza tour, she played bass in back-to-back sets with both Beck and Elastica. For years, she played in the house band at Hollywood’s hottest club Make-Up, backing luminaries like Dee Dee Ramone, Jayne County, and The Runaways. She has performed and/or recorded with the likes of Exene Cervenka’s Original Sinners, Michael Penn, KMFDM, Go Go Kathy Valentine, Vanessa Paradis, Butthole Surfer Gibby Haynes, El Vez and even Spinal Tap! Abby Travis solo recordings with her own star studded band (featuring members of The Beastie Boys, Klaus Nomi band, and ex Mars Volta) are called The Abby Travis Foundation (1998), Cutthroat Standards & Black Pop (2000) and GlitterMouth (2006).
For more information visit www.AbbyTravis.com
At this point, we don't know too much about Blume. But her business is a small, woman-run (ya think?) company. She has a small staff of devoted slaves, many with four legs, dog breath, and uncontrollable drooling habits. What can I say? She hires the socially challenged. Blume and her minions work hard to provide the highest-quality products and customer service. Being a belly dancer herself, she realized that there were very few options for workout clothing for the modern belly dancer. Blume, like most dancers, wanted to look great and wear fun clothes that show the world that she's a belly dancer, and darn proud of it! Ya can't wear your costume all the time. When you can't wear your dance costumes, wear these: www.bellydancegear.com
For more information about Blume's dancing troupe visit HIPLASH
Politti Ashcraft has studied bellydance for over 12 years, with a strong focus on the beautiful and varied styles of Tribal Bellydance. Inspired by the diverse cultures of the world, her progressive dance style is an engaging blend of the sacred and contemporary, by way of fluid movement and grace. Politti teaches weekly classes in the Inland Empire (So. Cal), offers specialty workshops in ATS and Tribal Fusion, and performs regularly in and around So. California, either as a soloist or with the gorgeous dancers of Blue Damsel. A teacher and performer, Politti is also an eternal student of Tribal Bellydance. She has studied with some of the most talented and gracious dancers in the industry, and continues to learn and grow in her dance by frequently promoting and attending Bellydance workshops and festivals.
For more information visit www.tribal-stuff.com
Jim Boz discovered belly dance in 1994 on whim and a tongue in cheek attempt at regular exercise. A year later, he expanded his dance training to include many folkloric and authentic techniques, taking up to 6 classes a week from several instructors while pursuing a variety of workshops, private instruction and personal research. Additionally, Jim formed the all male dance troupe "Sons of the Padisha " to critical acclaim in the Pacific Northwest. His solo performances include a variety of tempos, textures and rhythms, bridging the emotional spectrum of the dance style. He often uses sword work (single or double) or other balancing techniques for solo performances, to complement his strong presence. He has also studied Moroccan tray dance and is also adept at a variety of veil and cape dance techniques, in addition to many folkloric mens and womens stylings.
Tempest is an artist, designer, dancer, and writer currently based in the Bay Area of California. Although she enjoys studying what tradition has to offer, Tempest loves exploring the dance through unusual music and creative costuming, pulling on her visual arts background to "paint a picture" with the dance; engaging the audience
through dramatic embodied storytelling, passionate expression, and sensuous, mesmerizing movement. Tempest is the creator of the the Gothic Belly Dance Resource, and is considered to be the premier instructor for the genre. In the fall of 2006, she created and organized a groundbreaking event "The Durga Tour" - a nationwide tour of over two dozen states, bringing Gothic, Sacred, and Experimental belly dance performances and workshops to each stop. She is featured on the first ever GBD performance DVD produced by WorldDanceNewYork entitled "The Darker Side of Fusion" and just released "Bellydance for Beautiful Freaks", an instructional DVD, this past fall.
Leela is the Director of Award-Winning "Leela with SaloméJihad Bellydance Troupe." From her extensive background in classical dance forms, Leela brings FUN and EXCITEMENT to her popular teaching style, delighting her students with her contagious enthusiasm and playfulness. Leela's teaching deeply engages each dancer in both her own individual experience and the shared magic of the group as well. Leela's Award-Winning troupe has performed to enchanted audiences all throughout the Southland, receiving rave reviews for their imaginative and inventive style, humor and choreography.
For more information visit www.leelabellydance.com
Flowers Of The Desert Arabian Dance Company was founded in 1995 by Laura Crawford, who also serves as the company's director. Made up of the top soloists in the Los Angeles, California area, the group has performed at many prestigious events, including a gala voter benefit on Election Eve 1996, where the Flowers had the honor of performing in front of First Lady Hilary Clinton. The troupe has performed with many Middle Eastern, world beat and rock 'n' roll artists, including Egyptian superstar Amar Diab at The Hollywood Palladium, flamenco-Arabic sensation Alabina at the Universal Amphitheater, The Talking Heads at The Roxy, and the Universal Studios premiere of "The Mummy." Additionally, Flowers have performed for many celebrities and dignitaries including the Saudi Arabian Royal Family on two separate occasions. They've appeared at numerous festivals including the 1997 Tournament Of Roses Parade, on a float promoting worldwide friendship. Flowers were seen by thousands live and millions in television broadcasts that reached 55 separate countries.
MARTA SCHILL KOUZOUYAN
Marta Schill is the co-author of “The Compleat Belly Dancer”, a book that be came a national best-seller published by Doubleday & Co., as well as two sequels; “The Finishing Touch” and “The Teachers Guide”. She also co-authored and starred in “How to Bellydance”, a videodisc produced by MCI (Universal Studios) as well as writing and producing an instructional video tape titled “Belly Dance: Fine Art of the East.” Ms. Schill is one of the founders of the Middle Eastern Culture and Dance Association, created in 1977, a national non-profit communications organization dedicated to promoting Near- and Mid-Eastern music and dance. In this capacity, she created the Cairo Carnivale, now one of the foremost ethnic dance festivals in the Los Angeles area. Ms. Schill is currently MECDA’s President, as well as the Managing Editor of the Cymbal Digest magazine, MECDA’s feature publication. Marta has created choreography for such stars as Barbra Streisand and Dinah Shore, and acted in and created dance routines for shows such as “Barbra Streisand and Other Musical Instruments”, “Maid to Order”, “Young and the Restless” and “Alive and Well”. She has conducted seminars and shows throughout the United States, instructing in the Turkish and Egyptian styles of Middle Eastern dance arts. She is also credited with creating the beautiful modern style of circular veil technique.
For more information visit www.mecda.org
Jayna Kouzouyan has enjoyed a lifetime of dance experience. From jazz and ballet classes beginning at the age of nine to captain of the high school dance team, performing has been a constant focus in Jayna’s life. Because of her Lebanese Armenian heritage, she grew up surrounded by Middle Eastern culture and dance. It wasn’t until she was twenty, however, that she decided to follow in her mother’s footsteps and indulge herself in the art of Bellydance.
The lightening bolt of inspiration hit when she first saw the innovative and original L.A. based dance troupe, the Flowers of the Desert perform a Bellydance fusion routine to the classic song Kashmir by Led Zeppelin. The oozing emotion and snakelike seduction lured Jayna in like an incredible kiss on a first date. There was no turning back! She had to have more. After pursuing her newfound love affair with Bellydance, Jayna was pleased to soon join the well known and highly respected dance troupe, Jillina and the Sahlala Dancers. Performing at multiple nightclub and theatre venues throughout the years has showed Jayna that one of the most important elements of Bellydance is the intimate connection that can be made between the dancer and the audience.
Jayna is currently touring with the Bellydance Superstars and Desert Roses; just having returned from a four-month tour of Europe, culminating in three months performing in Monte Carlo, Monaco.
For more information visit Jayna on MySpace
SHIFRA SORIA TOBIASCH
Creator of the Balata™ style belly dance, Shifra took the ethnic, traditional style as it was danced in the middle east on small floor areas with flat feet combined them with the other styles, modern Egyptian, other western styles that fit to each dancer and her ability and figure to the way she/ he likes to dance on stage and at other places. Shifra was nominated by Zaghareet Magazine for the Golden Belly Award as The Best Kept Secret of 2004. Awarded the Golden Turban in 2005 for Most Loved Teacher, she is also nominated by Zaghareet Magazine for the 2007 Golden Belly Award as Favorite Ethnic Dancer.
SuSu is a Chatham Ontario resident who recently displayed her belly dance talents at the "Hips Oh My" Gala in Chatham (filmed as part of "Underbelly") as well as The Windsor Symphony Orchestra's annual Gala "Taste of the Orient."
SuSu has studied Egyptian style belly dance made popular in Ontario by Toronto's Yasmina Ramsy. Yasmina has had a large following over the years and her style has flourished due to her many devoted students who have now become teachers throughout the region. Such as Dawna Robertson "Isis" of Sarnia Ontario, Karen Hunt of Stratford and Khrista Boon of Windsor, Ontario. SuSu studied exclusively with Khrista Boon at Alimah in Windsor, Ontario and was a member of her Awalim Dance Troupe. She has also studied belly dance with Yasmina Ramzy of Toronto, Ava Fleming of Pheonix, and Princess Farhana of Hollywood.
For more information visit http://www.susuabdo.com
MEGAN M. ROBBINS
Miss Robbins started her formal dance training 23 years ago in Toronto. She studied jazz, tap, ballet and pointe, performing professionally throughout North America. Although she has been captivated by Egyptian culture since her early teenage years, it was not until 2003 while traveling in Egypt, that she was first introduced to belly dance. Belly dance presented the perfect opportunity to merge her passion for dance and Egypt. Miss Robbins began training at Alimah five years ago and is a former Principle Dancer with the Awalim Troupe. Her belly dancing has been beneficial for health and fitness purposes but even more importantly are the relationships built with such exquisite women. When Miss Robbins is not dancing, she is working in Detroit as a Television Producer for General Motors. Megan teaches belly dance at LaSalle Fitness, LaSalle Ontario.
For more information visit www.susuabdo.com
IAMED was founded in 1996 by Suzy Evans, whose belly dance career started in the 1970's, when belly dance was first noticed by the mainstream culture in the United States. Suzy was joined by several other veterans of the dance, as well as some newer talent, to form the IAMED Board of Directors. Suzy's passion and vision for the Art of Belly Dance has driven IAMED to raise the professional standards of excellence for belly dancing. Recognizing that belly dance is truly an international art form, IAMED members believed that outstanding performers, teachers, and promoters of belly dance should be identified and honored by their peers, and rewarded for their ongoing efforts and contributions to the belly dance community. This notion gave birth to IAMED's prestigious Awards of Belly Dance shows and ceremonies.
For more information visit www.bellydance.org/about_iamed.html
Hollywood Music Center is a record company specializing in world-music and traditional CD and DVD releases. Since its inception in 1982 by Movses Panossian in Los Angeles, HMC has produced recordings from a diverse selection of countries, however, placing an emphasis on Middle-Eastern recordings and video productions. Over the years, the HMC catalog has grown to become the largest selection of Belly Dance and traditional Middle-Eastern releases owned by a single label.
PE-KO Records USA is a distribution company specializing in the worldwide sale of Middle Eastern CD and DVD titles. Based in Glendale, CA, PE-KO USA distributes across North America, and exports to over 40 countries.
For more information visit www.HollywoodMusicCenter.com
Samantha Riggs is the Founder, Artistic Director, Choreographer and Lead Dancer for both Boom Boom Bollywood and The Sexy Scallywags Pirate Circus in Tempe, Arizona, and is a performer with Fyrae fire arts troupe. She was the assistant director as well as a core dancer, teacher, musician and choreographer for Domba Tribal Fusion Dance Troupe (winners of the 2006 Zaghareet “Best Troupe” award) from 1996 until their dissolution in October of 2006. Samantha has traveled the world teaching Bollywood Style Dance, Tribal Style Bellydance, Tribal Fusion, Fire Arts and Pirate Bellydance. Her serious obsession with Bollywood movies has, over the years, infected others... leading to her higher goal of connection and understanding between the Western and the Indo-American communities. Samantha has a long history on stage with many other forms of theatre arts including fire performance, stage combat, acting, stand-up comedy and comedy improv, singing, drumming and folk dancing.
For Samantha, Art is really all about Love and about expanding the small definition of Love present in mass consciousness to a pure, unadulterated, consuming, spiritual, feral existence without fear. The way she presents this in her own art of choreography and performance is via humor and exuberance, since she believes laughing ameliorates fear. So she brings you the idea of Apape, unconditional Love, via the uber-cheesy, over-the-top romance of Bollywood and the balls-to-the-wall, intoxicated, freedom-loving pirate.
Samantha’s latest passion which has inspired her in all areas of her life is that of tall ship sailing, and she can often be found 70-90 feet in the air in the rigging of the brig Lady Washington. This call to adventure has kept her in the United States for another couple of years. Come and dance with her before the kraken gets back on her trail.
Iris is just wonderful.
Presented in part by the Kansas Arts Commission, a state agency,
and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency,
which believes that a great nation deserves great art.
photo by Don Spiro