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Instructors

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It is with huge honor that we welcome the Queen of Cairo, legendary Belly Dancer and Actress, Dina Talaat, to Essence of Belly Dance 10!

Dina began her dancing career in the 1970's training with Mahmoud Reda, co-founder of Reda Troupe, a group of Egyptian folkloric dancers that toured nationally and internationally.

?She began her solo career in the 80's, quickly rising to the top of the belly dance scene in Cairo and remaining there up to this date, in a difficult and evolving social and political landscape. 


??Times have changed in Egypt, and the pendulum has been swinging further and further towards religious conservatism over the past few decades. ?In a 2008 article, Newsweek called Dina "The Last Egyptian Dancer," in reference to the growing conservatism in the country which is causing fewer and fewer native-born women to become professional dancers. This, coupled with Dina's provocative costumes and movements, have made her into a very controversial figure in her country and abroad.

But whether you love her or hate her, her influence in modern Egyptian style is undeniable. Dina herself is the clear dividing line between the vintage and classic styles that came before her and the modern styles that exist today. 

Her Reda-influenced steps marked the beginnings of new trends in belly dance which favor more complex footwork and weight shifts. Her exaggerated and dramatic facial expressions and gestures,  sharper hip and pelvic accents and slower and more provocative hip circles have been copied all over Egypt and the world. Her daring bras showcasing ample cleavage became the new normal in belly dance costume design (the "Dina bra"), and her occasional choice of a mini-skirt over traditional full-length skirts created new trends that are still being followed and developed upon all over the world today.

 

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Donna Mejia is the first tenured faculty of transnational fusion dance globally, and Director of Graduate Studies in Dance at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She began teaching dance professionally at the age of 16, received her undergraduate education in Business from CU Boulder, and her MFA in Dance from Smith College on full fellowship. She has passionately enjoyed her adventures in teaching, performing, choreographing, directing, and learning all over the globe, and is devoted to the study of movement and non-verbal intelligences across human populations.  Donna is an affiliate faculty member in both Women and Gender Studies, and Ethnic Studies. She is also trained as an ethnomusicologist and sewist. She is the 2011 winner of the Selma Jeanne Cohen honor in International Dance Scholarship, the first transnational fusion choreographer of an off-Broadway production in NYC, and the first to perform this genre of dance at the venerated Kennedy Center and Apollo Theatre. She is single mother to an extraordinary daughter and an avid volunteer for human and animal healing efforts.  Updates can be found at https://donnainthedance.com/
 
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Mahaila El Helwa is a renowned instructor, performer and choreographer of Oriental dance.  Mahaila is one of the premier instructors of Brazil who is known for her unique style and precise technique.  In addition to her work in Brazil, she has taught workshops and performed in many countries throughout the world. She improves her dance with great masters of oriental dance and travels constantly to Egypt to improve her dance.  In 2017, she opened the "Mahaila El Helwa Studio - Arab Oriental Dance" in Sao Paulo / Brazil.  Today, she is a top-favorite master teacher of many students who are intrigued and inspired by her personality and dance individuality.

 

 

 

 

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A versatile and extremely well-rounded performer, Zoe Jakes has developed an instruction style all her own and is a popular touring instructor, her workshops regularly selling out.

Katarina Burda (an original member of Bal-Anat) is her first teacher and influence, and Zoe was a company member of Katarina's troop Aywah! along with the talented Mira Betz and Elizabeth Strong. She went on to perform with Suhaila Salimpour, spent a few years learning how to get in peoples faces in Extra Action Marching Band, and immersed in Americana Vaudeville with The Yard Dogs Road Show. A proud Member of The Indigo Belly Dance Company, Zoe holds Mardi Love and Rachel Brice as her teachers and inspiration. Currently Zoe Jakes is touring with her band Beats Antique, a group that has 6 albums and hundreds of live shows under their belt. Zoe designs and makes many of her own costumes and co-produces tracks with Beats Antique, also adding set designer and stylist to her body of work.

Zoe Jakes has the desire and opportunity to bring belly dance to the masses, having performed at Coachella, Lollapalooza and Bonneroo in front of thousands of people that don't know belly dance from an elephant. It is her passion that Belly Dance can get a wider recognition and respect, and her classes reflect that with a focus on strong technique and long term motivation.

Zoe has classes at her home studio, Coven, in Oakland, travels all over the US to teach and perform, and has many classes on www.DaturaOnline.com. In 2015 Zoe launched her own tribal fusion belly dance format, DanceCraftTM. The purpose of this accredited dance program is to provide a structure in which dancers can progress towards an achievable goal, and to provide an opportunity to build a dancer's skills intelligently and clearly. This format applies strong technical training as a framework for artistry and creative expression.

DanceCraft focuses on dance technique, strength and flexibility, musicality, choreography, improvisation, critical thinking, stamina, analysis, teamwork, belly dance history, teaching and creating original work.

More details and registration at www.ZoeJakes.com