2014 Judging Panel
ANEENA is a performer and teacher based in Novato, California. Among her many awards are 1983 Grand Dancer of the Year and Troupe of the Year. She performs and teaches workshops throughout the United States, including Rakkasah East and West. She is best known for her original choreography and stunning double circular veil. Aneena is the one and only "Double Veil Diva."
AYESHA has been teaching and performing for over 30 years. She has won Grand Dancer, Duet, and Troupe twice, as Troupe Mandala and Ayesha's Oasis. She is the owner of Ayesha's Oasis and the director and choreographer of Ayesha's Oasis Dance Company. Ayesha also runs Hot Spring Spas of Southern Oregon with her husband Gordon.
DENISE is a professional belly dancer and keyboard and zil player for Pangia. She is the co-producer and artistic director of Pangia’s six CDs and co-founder of the original award-winning Troupe Mandala. She has performed and taught on both coasts and Mexico, and presented shows and workshops in Shasta and Siskiyous, sponsored by the local Arts Councils. Denise currently teaches belly dance classes at College of the Siskiyous, as well as workshops with her husband, Pat Olson.
HANNAH ROMANOWSKY is a professional dance artist from the San Francisco bay area specializing in traditional and contemporary dance from the Middle East, Iran, and Central Asia. She draws her aesthetic impulse from a remarkably diverse background in the performing arts, including Eastern and Western classical dance, musical theater, and the ballroom arts. A seasoned performer on the proscenium stage, Ms. Romanowsky has been a principle artist with Ballet Afsaneh, Aywah! Ethnic Dance Company, Shuvani, and a founding member of the ethno-contemporary company Wan-Chao Dance. She has performed at such venues as San Francisco's Ethnic Dance Festival at the Palace of Fine Arts, Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts, the British Museum in London, as well as at theaters and festivals in China, India, and Tajikistan. Hannah is Founder of the DanceVersity multicultural youth arts education program. She has nearly 20 years of experience teaching and choreographing for performing arts schools, dance companies, and community organizations, and is a cherished instructor throughout the San Francisco bay area and beyond. Ms. Romanowsky holds a Bachelor of Arts in Dance Ethnology and a Master of Arts in East-West Psychology. Her scholarly background in cross-cultural studies, integral psychology, and sacred traditions informs her work as an artist and educator. To learn more about Hannah, visit www.romanzadance.com.
KHALILAH SAMAH is an award-winning professional belly dancer from the Bay Area. Her life-long study of music and performing arts contributes to a sense of individuality and musicality in Middle Eastern dance, with an emphasis on improvisations and audience interaction. She is the 2009 Diamond Pro and 2013 Belly Dancer of the Year. Don't miss Khalilah's workshop on improvisation Saturday May 24 at 10:30am!
MONICA BERINI is a San Francisco based performer and instructor who has been studying Arabic dance and music since her teens, with training in San Francisco, New York, and Cairo. She has an extensive performance history that includes improvisational solo work and award-winning choreographed troupe experience. Her soulful belly dance style is based on both vintage Arab-American belly dance and Egyptian raqs sharqi and raqs baladi. Monica teaches weekly classes at the Alonzo King Lines Dance Center in San Francisco as well as workshops around the west coast. Monica maintains an ongoing Arabic language and music practice, and performs with several music ensembles around the Bay Area. You can keep up with current classes, performances, and projects at www.monicaraqs.com. Photo: Michael Baxter
PAT OLSON has been involved in belly dance since 1990, performing at engagements all over the West Coast with his wife Denise and as the group Pangia. Their music is sold world-wide and their latest CD, Mystic Blue Caravan, Vol. 7, was released in 2013. Pat is an accomplished oud player, vocalist, guitarist, and sound and lighting technician, having performed across the US and abroad. Pangia performs regularly at Rakkasah East, West, Spring Caravan, and Winter Moon festivals, and have been the featured band for several years at the Belly Dancer of the Year Dinner Show. www.pangiaraks.com
SAIEDEH is the Director/Choreographer of Grateful Siren Belly Fusion, formerly Sirens In Sanity. Her Dance Company has appeared at festivals, fairs, and competitions for 17 years. In 2001, Saiedeh won Grand Dancer of the Year and Trio of the Year at Belly Dancer of the Year. She currently is teaching Belly Fusion Technique in three locations in the Benicia/Vallejo areas.
Photo: Michael Baxter / raksphoto.com
Photo: Michael Baxter / raksphoto.com
SHOSHANNA Nestled amongst the redwoods on California's North Coast, Shoshanna has made Arcata into a great place to call yourself a Belly Dancer. There she produces the annual Redwood Coast Belly Dance Festival and Jewel of the Redwoods soloist competition (in October), hosts workshops, teaches classes and directs the Ya Habibi Dance Collective. Winner of the Belly Dancer of the Year title in 2004, Shoshanna loves being dazzled by dancers that show their passion for dance, technique, artistry and musical interpretation. She is proud to serve as dance faculty at Humboldt State University and the Mendocino Middle Eastern Music & Dance Camp, and when she's not teaching and dancing she's usually a princess, superhero, pirate or fairy at an amazing Birthday Party for kids or playing with her own darling little girls. www.Shoshannaland.com
TANYA has been a belly dancer nearly her whole life. She grew up studying all forms of dance at her mother's dance school. She has owned and operated dance schools in Ohio and Florida. Tanya has been belly dancing professionally since the age of nine and studied under many prominent teachers growing up, such as Ibrahim Farrah, Morocco, Serena, and Dahlena. She has traveled the world to perform and study. She is now performing in Las Vegas as a belly dancer, showgirl, and dancer for shows, events, and corporate parties. She has worked in every major hotel, performs often for celebrity parties, and choreographs for many event companies. Tanya is currently putting a few new projects together for the future, including a dance competition in Las Vegas! Photo: PixieVisionProductions.com
UNA is one of the most awarded dancers, teachers, choreographers, and troupe directors in the belly dance world. Her many honors include Belly Dancer of the Year, Ms. Universe, and, most recently, Grand Dancer of the Year. "Una Style" belly dance captivates audiences with a fusion of classic belly dance technique and Una's signature veil and jaw-dropping abdominal bead rolls. After retiring from 26 years of competition and nightly restaurant dancing, Una now dedicates her time teaching belly dance and directing Troupe Nijmeh. She has danced for the foreign honored dignitaries of the King of Morocco and the King at his request. Una has also been invited to teach her signature style in Europe. www.unadance.com
YOSIFAH ROSE and her husband Nathan Craver are professional Middle Eastern musicians and educators. Yosifah is the organizer and hostess of the monthly Dancer's Night at El Morocco Restaurant, featuring live music by Yosifah and Nathan’s band Al'Azifoon and guest dance artists from all over the greater Bay Area. Al'Azifoon regularly performs live Arabic music at Middle Eastern-themed festivals, winery events, corporate and private parties, charitable fundraisers, and other family-friendly events.
www.alazifoon.com / www.yosifah.com
www.alazifoon.com / www.yosifah.com
Zari is an Arabic and Indian dance artist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She the founder of RaqsTV.com.