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Team Essence

IT TAKES A VILLAGE....MEET OUR STEERING COMMITTEE!!!

Farah "Faaridah" Taylor – Executive Producer & Creative Director

A native of Brooklyn, New York, Faaridah moved to Atlanta over 15 years ago and has been studying and performing Middle Eastern Dance ever since. Coming from a Caribbean and Hispanic family, dance and culture have always been an integral part of her life. She is the owner of Atlanta Fusion Belly Dance and a proud member of AFBD's Rafi’ah Dance Company, The Georgia Salimpour Collective, Atlanta's Amoraat Dance Ensemble, and the longest running dance troupe in the world, Bal Anat, founded by the late Jamila Salimpour and currently under the direction of her daughter, the legendary Suhaila Salimpour. She is an executive for a leading Management Consulting firm with a focus in strategy and change management, and received an Executive MBA from the Goizueta Business School – Emory University.  Her passion breathes life! She is an avid event planner and committed to the growth of the Atlanta “Raqs” community. She has coordinated some of the biggest Middle Eastern Dance events in Atlanta, including numerous workshops,  galas,  stage productions, and fashion shows over the years and hosted some of the biggest names in the Belly Dance world at some of the most upscale hotels and theatres in Atlanta. She continues to identify opportunities to share her passion with the Middle Eastern dance community.  

Leena - 2018 Planning Team and Instructor Liaison

Leena is a professional Middle Eastern fusion style belly dance artist, instructor and choreographer, based in Atlanta, Georgia. A lifelong student of dance, she brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her art. With a dance background that includes ballet, drill team, cheerleading, step team, Latin and ballroom dance, Leena continues to expand her repertoire by traveling the world to study with the most sought after instructors. Leena is also certified Level 2 Suhaila Salimpour format, Jamila Level 2 and successfully completed the Fat Chance Belly Dance® American Tribal Style® (ATS®) General Skills and Teacher Training 1 & 2. Her warm and playful personality endears her to students and audiences alike.

Charlie - 2018 Planning Team and Instructor Liaison

Since her first belly dance class in 2003, Charlie has been in love with art of Middle Eastern dance and dedicated herself to its study. She has taught and danced professionally in the Atlanta area for many years. While formally trained in traditional and cabaret styles, her dancing has evolved into an eclectic fusion of ancient desert and modern urban sensibilities.  Elements of tribal, hip hop, modern and ballet blend with her technical foundation to create a deeply individual dance experience. Fluid, sensual with just a hint of darkness, Charlie’s style is a marriage of her two favorite things in life … belly dance and rock-n-roll.

Heidi - 2018 Planning Team and Instructor Liaison

Heidi is a local dancemaker who spent her youth exploring a variety of dance genres including ballet, tap, musical theater, modern dance and salsa Cubana. When a fellow salsa dancer invited her to a belly dance show it changed her dance life, one look at ATS® and she was hooked. She fell in love with the rich, earthy, and fun style that is Tribal. She is blessed to dance her way through life and considers herself an avid lifelong student, she splits her time as a dance instructor, choreographer, consultant, and performer.

Na'ilah/Deance - 2018 Planning Team and Instructor Liaison

Originally from New Orleans, Na'ilah found her love for Middle Eastern dance in 2004 and has been dancing ever since.  She has studied under some of the best instructors in Atlanta and across the US.  A former member of Bahiraat Dance Troupe, Na'ilah has performed at several venues across Atlanta. In addition to taking dance classes and performing, she is most known for her behind-the-scenes work, stage managing many belly  dance events around the metro-Atlanta area.  Outside of dance, Na'ilah holds a Master's Degree in Mathematics and Bachelors degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Mathematics! 

Aseelah - 2018 Instructor Liaison

Aseelah is a professional Middle Eastern Fusion Belly Dancer, Choreographer and Instructor with a lifelong love for all things dance and fitness. A native of North Carolina, Aseelah trained in modern, jazz, tap and a touch of African dance. Aseelah competed in Ms. Fitness Body Building regularly until her first introduction to Belly Dance in 2000. It was love at 1st shimmy!  

She was later exposed to Indian dance and music and felt an instant connection. The rhythm and bass of Bhangra music complements her love for all things fitness. She started studying Bhangra and fused it with Belly Dance to develop what she calls BhangraBellyWood!

Jendayi, 2018 Essence of Belly Dance Competition Co-Lead

Jendayi was born and raised in Vicksburg, MS and has been living in Atlanta over 20 years.  Jendayi's loves to bellydance, manage projects and design costumes. By being involved with Team Essence she gets to do all her favorite things. She loves the excitement and energy in planning and  helping organize bellydance events and  she loves working with the other fabulous members on the team.  She is excited to be part of Team Essence this year.

Jenny N - 2018 Essence of Belly Dance Competition Co-Lead

Co-founder of World Belly Dance Alliance, Jenny has a diverse background which includes dance, martial arts, personal training, event planning, and marketing. Known for combining world and modern dance forms to create a unique fusion style of belly dance, Jenny believes everyone should do what they love without self-imposed limits and encourages everyone to follow their passion!

Saniyah, Essence 8 Weekend Logistics Lead

Saniyah is known as one of Atlanta's best huggers and lover of glitter.  Being a part of the Bellydance community as a performer, student, audience member and now teacher she is honored to be a part of the team bringing an incredible event to Atlanta and help make it a long lasting event. She offers Shimmy with Saniyah beginner classes in DeKalb County at Browns Mill Recreation Center.