Amel Tafsout (means ‘Hope of Spring’) is among the most charismatic international master dance teacher of our time and has mesmerized audiences in the Middle East and North Africa as well in Europe und the U.S.A. with her expressive and stunning stage presence.
She is an acclaimed choreographer, instructor and performer of North African Maghreb Dance as well as a storyteller, a singer, a linguist and dance anthropologist.
Brought up in Algeria, Tafsout was fascinated by dance and music since childhood; and much of her research has focused on ritual traditional dances from the Maghreb, the Middle East (Reflecting the dual Berber-Arabic personality of Algeria), Africa and Cuba.
She has been able to look at the ways in which spirituality is part of daily life and her work is characterized by a search for harmony between Body, Mind and Spirit.
‘ Amel will seem to you like a voyager between countries, cultures and languages (…). Her technique of teaching focuses on sharing the spiritual energies (…).
Each of Amel’s movements come from inside her and is charged with pure energies. While Amel, the Berber woman, moves closer to the souls of the women, they in turn become more aware of their own strength and are able to recover their spiritual balance through dance. The word ‘healing’ is not mentioned but what happens here is nothing less than that.’ Gizella Hartmann, in ‘Orient Magazine’, Germany nr.1,2002
In her early twenties Tafsout moved to Germany where she founded the Pan Arabic company called ‘Banat As Sahra’ (Daughters of the Sahara Desert), a company which instrumental was in dismissing Eastern prejudices about Arab women as well as working to bring Arabic dance culture to the West.
In the late 80s Tafsout moved to London, U.K, where she performed at various dance and music festivals and was an important member of Chakchouka, a Latin–Jazz band, Mambo Duniya, Noor Shimaal.
‘Always graceful, she nevertheless reflected the enormous energy and excitement of the strongly percussive music to add an extra dimension to a truly remarkable Evening’, P.Rush, ‘The Stage’, Nov.1997, London, U.K.
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, DanceCraft™. 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.
Donna Mejia (Assistant Professor, CU Boulder Theatre and Dance Department) is a choreographer, scholar, instructor, and performer specializing in contemporary dance, traditions of the African and Arab Diaspora, and emerging fusion traditions in Transnational Electronica. This genre provides a rich arena for the study of cultural imperialism, gender representation and electronic/digital globalization. Donna is also an authorized instructor of the Brazilian Silvestre Modern Dance Technique and is a lauded representative of this esoteric study of dance after 20 years of practice.
For 10 years she was a faculty member at Colorado College and Director of the Colorado College International Summer Dance Festival. For twelve years she served as Managing Director of the award-winning Harambee African Dance Ensemble of CU-Boulder under the amazing leadership of Instructor Emerita Letitia Williams. The Harambee ensemble was awarded the prestigious El Pomar Foundation grant, was featured in the March 1996 issue of Dance Magazine, performed for President Bill Clinton and Nobel Laureate Archbiship Desmond Tutu, is part of the Denver International Airport time capsule, and was hailed as the “Best of Boulder” for 3 years.
Donna was the Guest Artist in Residence for Smith College Dance 2006 – 2009, and has been awarded residencies at the Naropa Institute, University of South Florida, Mt. Holyoke College, Hampshire College, University of Northern Colorado, Taipei National University of the Arts, Bucknell University, Earth Dance, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival (three years) and the Bates Dance Festival (three years). She was nominated for a Pikes Peak Area Artist award in 2005.
In October of 2011 she was selected by the Fulbright Association to present the Selma Jeanne Cohen Endowed Lecture for International Dance Scholarship in Dance, notably for her paper “Digital Diasporas and Transnational Dance Communities: The Effects of the Internet on Identity Formation and Collective Cultural Memory.” Her research was also the featured keynote of Syracuse University’s 2012 Symposium on Public Diplomacy. In 2014 Donna directed the first Viral Dance Colloquium; an interdisciplinary gathering of scholars and artists to discuss the impact of Internet usage on human affairs. The digital archive for this event can be found at http://cuboulderdance.wordpress.com/. More recently she collaborated with poet Andrea Assaf in performances for the venerable La Mama Theatre in Manhattan, The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., and with vocalist Mankwe Ndosi for the Women of the World Festival at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, NY.
Donna’s current projects include directing the philanthropic performance group The Sovereign Collective, and working as part of the research and development team of Kenji Williams’ Bella Gaia/Origin Stories/Beautiful Earth Education Initiative.
Donna completed her undergraduate degree in Business at CU-Boulder, and received her Master of Fine Arts degree on full fellowship from Smith College. She joined the University of Colorado at Boulder as an Assistant Professor of Dance in 2012. She is the first professor of tribal/transnational fusion globally, and serves as the Director of the graduate studies program. Donna balances her time teaching and touring throughout the U.S. and abroad, and has headlined over 50 international festivals since 2012. Also dedicated to philanthropic work, she frequently donates her services and performances to conscious organizations and social justice efforts. She has joined the research and development team of Gaia Bella, the documentary film and performance project directed by Kenji Williams. Donna has also added the title of “musical composer” to her docket of skill sets, and is currently in production on an electronic music EP with producer/engineer E.M.C. of Lifted Media. Her choreographic commissions and performances continue to generate outstanding critical reviews from print and digital media.
Morgan Fay is a Raqs Sharki and Fusion Belly Dancer based in Portland, OR. She is certified in phases I - III of Rachel Brice's 8 Elements Program, Sahra Saeeda's Journey through Egypt I - IV, and has level one certifications in both Jamila and Suhaila formats in the Salimpour school. Morgan plays a variety of percussion instruments including Finger Cymbals, Riq, and Doumbek, which brings an earthy rhythm to her dancing.
Based out of Portland, Oregon, Ashley is an internationally touring artist and instructor. She holds a bachelor of music in vocal performance/opera, is an 8 Elements™ Datura Style teacher, a Registered Yoga Teacher, a certified Pilates, cycling and fitness instructor and has performed in over 20 countries worldwide.
Her dance training and certification program Integrated Dance is a comprehensive training program designed to efficiently combine excellent dance technique with the understanding of basic anatomy and to intelligently implement target-specific cross-training with yoga, Pilates and fitness. Students will undergo fundamental music training, and learn cueing techniques and other pedagogical strategies for creating organized, safe and effective classes for all levels of students with various learning styles.
Widely regarded as an expressive and naturally talented dancer, Claudia has devoted over 20 years to this passionate, musical and technical living art form that is Belly Dance! Claudia is a beloved dancer in the Portland area but has brought her unique style to many dance events nationally and internationally.
Claudia has been working at the craft of teaching Belly Dance for over 15 years. She is known as an instructor that passes on her passion for this dance. Although Claudia focuses on the artistic quality of Oriental Dance she also encourages quality in technique.
Amy Sigil is an international instructor in dance and team building, director of UNMATA, owner of Hot Pot Studios and the creator of Improvisational Tribal Style (ITS). She has been studying dance for over 20 years with training in Bellydance, American Tribal Style, Hula, Tahitian, Volleyball, Basketball and Track.
I've always been inspired by movement.
My first conscious movements were found around the neck of a quarter horse. When I was a young girl I fell in love with a horse named Biscuit. We were both very young together, her 7 months old and myself 7 years old. It was the first time I cared about how strong my legs were, my arms...my will. Biscuit and I were left alone on 40 acres to develop our relationship. She spent years trying to kill me. She ran me under low tree branches, scraped my legs against barbed wire fences, kicked me, bit me and tried to drown me in the pond numerous times. Here's what I learned; lay to the side of the saddle with your head lower then her back when approaching a low branch, throw both legs opposite the fence side, stay close to her body so she can only push you and not extend her leg for a full force kick, bite her back, and learn to swim as fast as a quarter horse. She was my best friend.
Who knows if it was Biscuit that built my love of working with large mammals, but it has resonated with me my entire life. I am passionate about group work, inclusivity and fitness. I am moved by music and work ethic, by Art and expression. Dance is all of these things for me. It is a way to further my relationship with my body and share these findings with others. What's beautiful about dance is that it is "me". It is "you". It is "us". What a beautiful thing to express yourself with yourself. Is there anything more authentic?" - Amy Sigil
Sweta is a Bharatanatyam and Nattuvangam artist with 25+ years of journey in this art form under the tutelage of her gurus; Roja Kannan and Padmini Radhakrishnan. She has given over 100 solo performances in US and India. She has many awards and recognitions to her credit.
Sweta holds a master’s degree in Fine Arts - MFA. Sweta is following her passion by exploring more into choreography, teaching in Portland, OR and San Jose, CA and giving performances as a solo artist, nattuvangam artiste and a freelance dancer. Recently, she has been on a dance journey throughout USA and has performed at NJ Bridgewater Temple, California Bharati Tamil Sangam, Mandir of Madison (Wisconsin), Chicago Aurora Balaji Temple, Nashville Sri Ganesha Temple, Greater Atlanta Tamil Sangam, Washington Murugan Temple, Lanham MD, and Portland, OR.
Along with kindling the creative side of the brain, she works the logical side of the brain for her PhD. at OHSU, Portland, OR, USA.
Colette Todorov began belly dancing in 1997 with Carolena Nericcio of FatChanceBellyDance® (FCBD) and was immediately intrigued by the many facets of American Tribal Style® (ATS®). Her years as a member of the professional troupe and instructor at the FCBD studio, and as the director of Scarlet Thistle, have deepened her love of group improvisation and working with a company of dancers.
She is currently the resident ATS® instructor at Datura and DaturaOnline.com, bringing over 15 years of belly dance teaching experience to students from all over the world. Her goal is to continue to develop as a dancer and to inspire others to discover how dance and creativity can radically improve their life.
Louis Halley is Hip Hop dancer who grew up on the Island of St.Maarten. His exposure to multiple styles there such as Dancehall, African, Bachata, Merengue and more has influenced his style tremendously.
Henna was born in Hawaii, where she spent her formative years, and where music, dance, and culture are closely tied and deeply valued. She would not experience this intrinsic link between culture, song, and dance again until taking belly dance classes as a student at Portland State University. She credits her first teachers, Aziza and Magidah, with laying a solid foundation in technique and nurturing a love for Egyptian music.
An avid traveler and student, Henna's dance blossomed during her four years in Tokyo, Japan. Dancing full time, producing shows with Deseos Productions, and studying with as many visiting dancers as possible, Henna immersed herself in bellydance - even expanding into Fusion. Since her return to Portland, Henna has completed Rachel Brice’s 8 Elements™ Cultivation training, collaborated with local professional dancers, and developed an inspiring relationship with the Middle Eastern band, Ritim Egzotik. She is passionate about sharing this wonderful art and considers herself a lifelong student of Middle Eastern music and dance.
Attendees, Please Note--Your Photograph May Be Taken At The JamBallah Northwest Festival.
To assist in future promotion, we will have professional photographers working throughout the event, at the workshops, shows, and other festival-specific gatherings. Photographs of festival participants and their guests will be taken and posted on the JamBallah Northwest website, and/or the JamBallah Northwest Facebook page. There is a possibility that your photograph may be taken and so used. We believe that this will enhance the overall experience of festivalgoers, and allow us to properly convey the atmosphere and awesomeness of the festival to the rest of the bellydance community! By attending the JamBallah Northwest festival, both workshops and events, you give your consent to the posting of such photographs by us and waive all rights and claims with respect to the posting of such photographs.
We do recognize an individual's rights to control how their image is portrayed. If you ever object to a specific photo and want it removed, please email jamballahnw@gmail..com. Be sure to reference the specific photo and include the URL of the page the photo appears on.