“Art: the conscious production or arrangement of sounds, color, forms, movements, or other elements.” Middle Eastern Dance was born in ancient civilizations and scattered throughout the world and has endured many alterations and changes throughout its history. Once again, belly dancing is transforming itself, internationally. Artistic expression in any medium is personal and intimate, and, by its very nature, must evolve and move therefore we must preserve the classics and allow progression.

Jamileh, one of Utah’s award-winning dancers, is an artist. After belly dancing for 15 years, she is not afraid to push the envelope in Middle Eastern dance, and create new and exciting choreographies for herself and the award winning troupe, Midnight Mirage.

A native of Ogden, Jamileh studied ballet, jazz, and tap as a child and was part of a competition drill team in high school. She grew up with a belly dancing mother, and she says, “As long as I can remember, I wanted to be a belly dancer. Even at Halloween, I had belly dancing costumes.”

The Utah teachers Jamileh has studied under include: Mashara Rabia, Aziz, Kismet, and Jillina, her favorite dancer with whom she privately trained. She was a member of Baraka and the Kismet performing troupe, where she met her friend and business partner, Calypso. Their collaboration would birth Midnight Mirage, and produce a wave of competition awards for their solo, troupe, and duet performances.

Jamileh explains: “From the beginning, our vision was to be different. We wanted to experiment with our choreography and take it to a new level. We set very specific goals for Midnight Mirage and ourselves. Today, we have met every goal, one of which was to become known outside of Utah. We now are featured every year in the main IAMED show, and we are asked to perform all around the country. This year we danced in Seattle, Baltimore, and California, to name a few.”

Jamileh is the director/teacher of the Midnight Mirage School of Dance, and director/choreographer for Troupes Amara, Eclipse, Stars of Jamileh, and Sahara. In her words, “I love to teach. It brings so much positive energy to the lives of these women. They get out of the house for 60 minutes and experience their true femininity. They are inspired soulfully, and find grace and beauty within themselves.”

“As I have traveled around the nation, I have learned that Utah produces very high-quality dancers. Utah dancers quite often have a dance background and gain their experience in festivals and events, instead of bars and restaurants. I think that it produces a more refined dancer.” She continues, “Today, I am just enjoying what I’ve created and the deep friendships I have with the ladies of Midnight Mirage. I look forward to watching the next generation of dancers to see what they will produce and where their creativity will take them. It is very exciting.”

For information on Mirage in Winter’s Cabaret with a Twist, February 8 & 9 and other events where Jamileh will be performing, check out Midnight Mirage on Facebook.