In Arabic Halima translates as ‘quiet one,’ but there’s nothing quiet about this lady’s expressive dancing and her dynamic troupe, Desert Gypsies. Halima has an exquisite “old school” style, that’s delightful and fun to watch. Her choreography is reminiscent of the 70s and 80s, preserving a sweetly feminine and classic aspect of Middle Eastern Dance. Last year at Spring Fest, her troupe, Desert Gypsies, almost stole the show with their colorful and exciting tambourine dance. Halima always maintains the integrity of belly dancing while surprising and entrancing her audiences with new dance fusion.

“I ‘m definitely not a cabaret-style dancer. I can’t define my dancing. I like all of the styles, and I dance however I am inspired. I don’t want to be labeled, though I feel more traditional than anything,” she said, “I just laugh when people ask me what style I dance. I like to incorporate it all. Whatever I do, it is American. It may have Middle Eastern roots, but Americans have created their own version. We get too wrapped up in what is perfect and traditional. I love the diversity.”

Halima’s dance background includes ballet, jazz, and gymnastics. She has been belly dancing for 20 years. When asked how she discovered belly dance she said, “Initially, I just wanted an outlet for my creativity. I found Layla through community education, and I studied and danced with her for 15 years. What I truly discovered through belly dancing was a sisterhood and an art that expressed the true feminine for me.”

Halima has studied with local teachers, such as Zahira, and nationally acclaimed one too. “My absolute favorite dancer is Suzanna del Vecchio. She is so precise. You can see every little movement, and there is such emotion on her face. She doesn’t try to be a Middle Eastern dancer, she just is a Middle Eastern dancer,” Halima said.

Halima is currently busy teaching a variety of classes and is the director of three troupes—Desert Gypsies, Gypsy Rhythms, and Gypsy Melody. “I’m focusing more of my energy on my troupes rather than solo performances. I love a group effort. I want my students to speak up and show me what they know,” she said.

Halima’s own words on Middle Eastern dance say it all. “It’s amazing to see how many incredible dancers we have in Utah. I also love it when people attend our performances for the first time and discover how much fun belly dancing really is. It totally changes their perspective. It’s our job to educate the public that this isn’t a sexy, suggestive dance for men. This is a beautiful art form that was created by women for women.”

Halima and the Desert Gypsies will be performing at the Freedom Festival in Provo on July 4, the Utah Belly Dance Festival in August and Latin Festival over Labor Day weekend.

 Zuhra Zakiyah

The first time I watched Zuhra Zakiyah dance, I was at the Athenian in Ogden. Performing to a Hossam Ramzy piece of music, I was immediately impressed by her heartfelt interpretation of the music and her commitment to the art form—a commitment to professionalism and authenticity. She possesses a grace and delight in the dance that can only come with knowledge and intelligence. A beautiful dancer, she is also a beautiful person. When Nikia of Whispering Sands became ill last year, Zuhra took over and kept her classes going and performing. Like I said, a beautiful person and obviously, a great friend.
[Zuhra Zakiyah] Zuhra Zakiyah, which means “Woman of Sharp Wit” in Arabic, moved to the Wasatch Front from San Francisco in 1983 to start her own business and raise a family. Six years ago, she began studying raks sharqi with Moshara Rabia, and most recently, with Nikia and Aja. Today, Zuhar Zakiyah is the assistant director of the Whispering Sands Dance Company.
Zuhra Zakiyah resonates best with the ethnic folkloric style of Middle Eastern dance, but she also loves Egyptian Cabaret. Hadia and Morocco are her favorite dancers, each epitomizing her favorite styles of dancing. She has taken workshops with both and is a self-proclaimed “workshop addict.”
“In a three-day workshop in Canada, Hadia taught us all of the instruments used in Middle Eastern music and how to interpret them. Each instrument requires a specific type of movement. Our bodies are instruments of the music through the dancing. I now really hear what the instruments are telling the dancer to do; for instance, the quanoon requires a light shimmy, and the nay flute is very floaty and up.”
“What I love about Middle Eastern dance is that there is so much information available and you can learn so much about the varied cultures, history, regions and dances. It is like the music—multilayered. The more you learn, the more you discover that you don’t know. It is the perfect never-ending hobby. There is always more to research and learn.”
“I spent the millennium eve in Egypt and fell in love with the culture. How Egyptians regard belly dancing is very different than in the United States. I believe Americans have taken belly dancing, or raks sharqi, and elevated it into the art form it is and deserves to be. It takes great determination to learn Middle Eastern dance.”
“Utah is a great place. Our belly dance community is so special and so big compared to other cities. Our dancers are being recognized nationally, and we have many opportunities available to us. The bar has been raised in Utah. Our quality, experience and knowledge of Middle Eastern dance have truly increased in the past few years. I love it!”Zuhra Zakiyah, which means “Woman of Sharp Wit” in Arabic, moved to the Wasatch Front from San Francisco in 1983 to start her own business and raise a family. Six years ago, she began studying raks sharqi with Moshara Rabia, and most recently, with Nikia and Aja. Today, Zuhar Zakiyah is the assistant director of the Whispering Sands Dance Company.
Zuhra Zakiyah resonates best with the ethnic folkloric style of Middle Eastern dance, but she also loves Egyptian Cabaret. Hadia and Morocco are her favorite dancers, each epitomizing her favorite styles of dancing. She has taken workshops with both and is a self-proclaimed “workshop addict.”
“In a three-day workshop in Canada, Hadia taught us all of the instruments used in Middle Eastern music and how to interpret them. Each instrument requires a specific type of movement. Our bodies are instruments of the music through the dancing. I now really hear what the instruments are telling the dancer to do; for instance, the quanoon requires a light shimmy, and the nay flute is very floaty and up.”
“What I love about Middle Eastern dance is that there is so much information available and you can learn so much about the varied cultures, history, regions and dances. It is like the music—multilayered. The more you learn, the more you discover that you don’t know. It is the perfect never-ending hobby. There is always more to research and learn.”
“I spent the millennium eve in Egypt and fell in love with the culture. How Egyptians regard belly dancing is very different than in the United States. I believe Americans have taken belly dancing, or raks sharqi, and elevated it into the art form it is and deserves to be. It takes great determination to learn Middle Eastern dance.”
“Utah is a great place. Our belly dance community is so special and so big compared to other cities. Our dancers are being recognized nationally, and we have many opportunities available to us. The bar has been raised in Utah. Our quality, experience and knowledge of Middle Eastern dance have truly increased in the past few years. I love it!”
Zuhra Zakiyah will perform with the Whispering Sands Dance Company at Thia’s Virginia Show June 11 and solo and troupe performances at the Utah Belly Dance Festival in August. She also performs regularly at Ogden’s Athenian Restaurant.

Nikia Amira, a favorite dancer from Ogden, Utah has only been dancing for six years. Six years ago she had never watched a belly dance performance. When a friend invited her to a belly dance class, she didn’t think she would like it very much. After one class with Mashara Rabia, she was bitten by the bellydancing bug, and, four months later, she was performing at Tribes. Nikia Amira’s extensive training in classical ballet, jazz, and musical theatre, made belly dancing a natural fit. She brings her dance background, her sweet personality, and her acting ability to the belly dance stage and performs her magic. She loves Egyptian Cabaret and Egyptian Pop style of Middle Eastern Dance, and her interpretations are fun, flirty, and refreshing. Nikia Amira’s drum solos are spectacular, exciting, and dead on.Nikia’s classes with Mashara Rabia were her introduction to belly dancing. “Mashara moved so beautifully and was so sensual. It was the most beautiful dancing that I had ever seen,” said Nikia. “I fell in love with the mystery and the femininity of the dance. Mashara gave me a solid foundation in belly dancing.”

In 2001, Nikia began taking classes with Midnight Mirage and within six months, she was asked to join the Midnight Mirage Dance Company. As a member of the troupe, she traveled and danced all over the Western United States and competed in the Wiggles of the West dance competition, which they won in 2002.

“My dance style was really formed by Midnight Mirage,” Nikia explains. “I was their baby. My love of Egyptian pop and Egyptian Cabaret was a directly influenced during my year with Isis, Jamileh, and Calypso. The women of Midnight Mirage were my mentors and still are.”

Nikia Amira has also studied with Suhaila, Jillina, Hadia, Suzanna del Vecchio, Delilah, and Aziza. “My favorite dancer today is Hadia,” said Nikia. “I really appreciate the way she captures the essence of the dance. I love the way she dances. It’s so non-invasive.”

After a year with Midnight Mirage, Nikia Amira left to have her second baby, Sophia. Today, she is the creator and director of the Whispering Sands School of Dance with 40 students, and a dance company that has been together one year. Nikia Amira and the Whispering Sands students will be performing at the Utah Belly Dance Festival the end of August, the Idaho Belly Dance Festival in September, Tribes in the fall, and the Hot Air Balloon Festival at Wolfcreek Resort. She is also a regular performer at the Athenian Restaurant in Ogden on Thursday nights.

Nikia Amira is a talented, beautiful, and delightful dancer and person. Her drum solo work is deadly! Her students perform continually with sophistication and professionalism. At age 27, she has been in a nationally acclaimed dance company, performed around the United States, and has a successful school of dance. With people like Nikia Amira, belly dancing in Utah has a bright and creative future.

Sumra watched her first bellydancing performance at a renaissance fair and was mesmerized by the sensuality, control, and intricacy of the art. Not long after that, at another belly dancing venue, she was convinced to begin her own Middle Eastern dance training.

[Sumra] “I was so excited that there was a dance form for women over 30,” Sumra explained. “This was an art form for women of all ages.”

Sumra was classically trained in ballet and studied jazz and tap. She quit dancing after college, to marry, have children and pursue a career in marketing management. Today she is a performing soloist, director and member of the dance troupe, Shazadi, and choreographer. She will be teaching an intermediate belly dance class this fall.

“I enjoy choreographing dances and seeing my ideas come to life,” she said.

Born and raised in Logan, Sumra was aware that belly dance training in Cache Valley was limited. So, 6 years ago the Utah State University Middle Eastern Dance Club was created with only 6 members and no teachers. In order to learn the dance, each member was assigned a belly dance video to watch and then they taught each other the movements. They also brought in major dancers from across the Wasatch Front to teach workshops and dance. This was mainly for the club’s benefit, but it also educated the Cache Valley audience regarding Middle Eastern Dance.

Today they boast more than 50 students and each year they host a workshop and performance with a nationally recognized Middle Eastern Dancer. Their workshops and shows are professional and a lot of fun, and they have a fabulous core audience.

“I have studied with everyone in Utah and various teachers around the United States,” explains Sumra. “I am excited that there are so many talented dancers in Utah. I am always surprised at the high caliber of dancing in this state. I believe Utah is one of Middle Eastern dance’s best kept secrets.”

Sumra is one of those talented dancers, technically accurate, and delightfully expressive. Her interpretation of Middle Eastern dance is elegant, refined, and hot. Sumra’s dedication to her art is undeniable. In 2003, at Wiggles of the West, she won second place as Entertainer of the Year, and was part of Shazadi’s coming in second and third, as Ensemble of the Year, in 2003 and 2004.

“I was especially influenced by Jillina’s creativity, interpretation, and choreography, Hadia’s sensibility and teaching ability, and Aziza’s fluidity and perpetual motion,” Sumra said. “For my own dance interpretation, I take a little from each teacher and incorporate it into my own style. My favorite form of Middle Eastern dance is Egyptian Cabaret, but my dance style is definitely American. I am not a purist. I bring to the dance all I have learned and express it in my own way.”

Shazadi will be hosting the fabulous Ansuya, teaching a workshop and performing, this November. It’s a short drive to Logan to watch Middle Eastern dancing in all its variety, and you will catch a rising star, Sumra, dancing solo and with Shazadi. See you there!

This months’ bellydancing column is about Tamar, the director of the Giza School in SLC.

[Tamar]Middle Eastern dance or belly dance, is considered to be a derivative of some of the world’s oldest known dance forms. Middle Eastern or Oriental dance is a multi faceted art, and the term, belly dance, applies to several different forms of the dance such as, Egyptian cabaret, American classic, American tribal, or folkloric. Like our folk dances, there are traditional dances from the Middle East that come from the people or tribes of the various countries and have been handed down through the generations. These dances are usually performed in the regional costumes and reflect the daily lives, joys, and sorrows of the people. These dances are also the foundation of what we refer to as belly dance.

Tamar, director of the Giza School in Salt Lake City, is actively engaged in preserving and presenting the more traditional and ethnic forms of Middle Eastern dance. “We are so fortunate in the United States to perform these traditional dances. In Iran, no one is allowed to do any public dancing. People can only dance at private parties,” explained Tamar. “It is very sad. I love the Persian dances. They are so innocent and beautiful. “

Tamar’s belly dance experience began in New Orleans, where she danced every weekend for 15 years. She studied with some of the greatest dance teachers including, Bobby Farrah, Dee Birnbaum or Zenia, Mahmoud Reda, the Fred Astaire of Cairo, and Ferida Fahmy.

Tamar moved to Salt Lake City in 1997. She saw a need for a more folkloric focus in our dance community, and created the Giza School. Her new troupe, Cartouche, is busy learning traditional Khaleggi, Nubian, ghawazee, Saidi, baladi, and Persian dances. Tamar is the director and choreographer for the troupe, which is comprised of seven women and one man.

“I am looking for some more good male dancers who want to be in a folkloric troupe. They are hard to find.”

“My favorite ethnic dance is Nubian. It is so exciting! It’s such a happy dance performed with men and women. The costumes and steps are lively, and everything together is fun for the dancers and the audience,” explained Tamar. “You don’t see this dance being performed anywhere!”

The Giza School currently has 12 students plus her new troupe. Tamar juggles her love of dancing with full-time work and a full-time mother. Her desire for the future is to travel to Iran, Egypt, and Turkey and study the dances first hand. In the meantime, she actively researches the traditional dances, watches videos, and attends local workshops when possible.

I saw the Giza School dance last March, at Spring Fest. I was enchanted with the colorful, vibrant, and lively presentation. I especially loved watching the traditional aspect of Middle Eastern dance being presented. Variety will keep our belly dancing venues interesting, fresh, and attractive to the public. Thanks, Tamar, for your contribution. Tamar’s troupe, Cartouche, will debut at Spring Fest 2005 and is scheduled to perform at Thia’s June show.

If you have attended the International Dance Gala, Mirage in Winter, Spring Fest and several other belly dance events, you have heard the mellifluous voice of Ana Kitka za Sofia announcing the dancers. I call her “The Voice of Belly Dance,” but did you know that she has been dancing in Utah for 22 years? I thought we should all get to know something about the dancer behind the voice. Ana Kitka za Sofia—whose name means “bouquet from Sofia,” which is a city in Bulgaria—began her dance career with Virginia Tanner at age four. She has also studied ballet, folk dancing, musical theatre and opera. She became mesmerized with belly dancing while watching the dancers at the old Athenian. “I just knew that I had to do that,” she says. The year was 1973, and belly dancing in Utah was in its infancy.

Interviewing Ana Kitka za Sofia about her dance career and experiences is a delightful history lesson about bellydancing across the Wasatch Front. Smitten by the dance, she quickly sought out the fabulous Aziz, the man who brought belly dancing to Salt Lake City, and he became her first teacher. She then studied with Noushaba at the University of Utah, a talented and lovely local dancer, and trained and danced with Kismet. When she moved to Ogden several years later, she started training with the wonderful Mashara Rabia and danced in her troupe for many years. She has also studied with Zahira, Midnight Mirage and Corrie Walker.

“The dancers here are as good or better than anywhere else!” she says. “I never felt I had to go out of town for training and good technique.”

Several years ago and six operations on her knees later, Ana Kitka za Sofia turned to announcing to keep in touch with the art she loves so much. The rest is history. She truly has become “The Voice of Belly Dance,” and her knowledge of the dance and our dancers is considerable.

Today, Ana Kitka za Sofia dances in the Kashmir Dance Company under the direction of Corrie Walker. This American tribal dance troupe is colorful, wildly entertaining, and brings audiences to their feet every time they perform.

“I have totally embraced American tribal. It is so much fun!” says Ana Kitka za Sofia. “Corrie has really put her own stamp on what we do on stage. The challenge with tribal is the technique. You follow a leader with subtle signs of arm, head or body posturing to let the rest of the troupe know what the next movement will be. This dance is full of intense muscular movements and isolations. It is a fun time dancing with your girlfriends! Not just performing with your girlfriends, but the joy of dancing with them!”

She adds, “Of course, the costuming is delicious. There is no such thing as too much.”

Ana Kitka za Sofia will be performing with Kashmir Dance Company and announcing at Shazadi’s Soiree Nov. 6, the Rachel Brice Show in December, and at Spring Fest this coming March.

When I watch Shahravar dance, I am transported to another time and place: to exotic lands, spicy scents and multi-layered earthy music. There is magic and mystery in her interpretations, and an absolute excellence of technique. Her performances are always unique and beautiful, which comes from her obvious joy and delight in dancing, and translates effortlessly to the audience.

[Shahravar]Shahravar is a native Utahn, heralding from the far distant land of Bountiful. Her only dance experience is Middle Eastern dance, which she began in 1993, and gives her a focus and purity in her belly dancing. Inspired by a performance by Zahirah at the Utah Belly Dance Festival, Shahravar was soon taking lessons from her, and not long after that, was performing as a member of Zahirah’s dance troupe, Desert Orchid. To this day, Zahirah remains Shahravar’s inspiration, teacher and mentor.

“I never thought that I’d be a dancer. I just thought it was a beautiful art form,” she explained. “My first solo was at Robert’s Deli on 9th South. I opened for Zahirah.”

Shahravar specializes in Turkish, Lebanese, Arabic, Egyptian, East Indian, Tunisian, Spanish and flamenco dances. She is a skilled dancer with zils and veils, and has also mastered the difficult art of dancing with a sword on her head. She strives to be as authentic as possible, though purity of form for the Western audience is always a challenge.

“My personal style is an interpretation of all of many styles and cultural dances.” explains Shahravar. “I pull from all the Middle Eastern styles I love so much. I find it difficult historically to say what dances are actually pure and what ‘purity of form’ truly is. The Spice Road trade was huge, and not only goods were exchanged, but music, thoughts and dance. It is difficult to say what is a ‘pure’ form of Middle Eastern dance, except perhaps East Indian and the deep desert tribes that have kept their dance history for many centuries. Even then, there has been much interpretation, influence and change. “

Besides performing, Shahravar teaches beginning, intermediate and advanced bellydancing. She believes that each dancer first requires a definite core of basics, and then they can move on to more percussive and lyrical movements. She focuses on improvisational skills for her dancers as Middle Eastern dance is often performed without choreography. It is with live musicians that the dance really comes alive.

“I am so excited that Miles Copeland is giving this form of dance national recognition with the Belly Dance Superstars and presenting them on a stage. This elevates our art and promotes the dance in such a positive manner with excellent dancers and the diverse styles of Middle Eastern Dance.”

Shahravar can be seen performing regularly at the Cedars of Lebanon Restaurant, and will be performing at the Rachel Brice Concert on Dec. 4, Meeting of the Tribes, Spring Fest, Café Med and the Utah Belly Dance Festival

Tirza‘s true essence lies somewhere between Doris Day, Shakira and Scheherezade. Gorgeous. Gifted. Sensuous. What’s not to love? She is genuinely nice, loyal and a fabulous dancer. Well…duh!…Tirza is the Greek word for pleasant, and our Tirza is that and much, much more.

Tirza is a dancer’s dancer. Her incredible talent is obvious. She has been well trained and she seems to have been born to express herself through dance. But there is nothing of the diva about her. She is one of the most sincere and gracious ladies I have ever interviewed. The truth of Tirza is articulated in her earthy, warm and joyous performances. She reaches out to her audiences with infectious energy and invites them to share in her delight; it’s very contagious and very, very, sexy! (Not to mention her amazing body that is honed to perfection). She is, after all, a personal trainer and she works out regularly. The results are stunning and well worth the effort.

A native Utahn, Tirza studied ballet, tap, jazz and hip-hop as a child. She discovered belly dancing when a co-worker brought a costume to work. Intrigued, she attended a belly dancing show and fell in love with belly dancing.

“I had never heard of belly dancing before then,” she explained.

A little over three years ago, Tirza began taking classes with Midnight Mirage. Recognizing her natural talent, she was soon asked to be a member of the award winning, Midnight Mirage Dance Company. Recently, Tirza and Jamileh won first place in the duet category at the Double Crown competition.

“I really love this dance and I like how Midnight Mirage incorporates jazz into their choreography. Their kind of belly dancing fits me perfectly. I love the flow and the formations. I prefer a more Americanized style of belly dancing.”

“I truly enjoy my relationship with Jamileh, Calypso and Zephyra; they have become my closest friends,” Tirza told me. “There is no leader in our dance company. We all create the dances, and we all have a say in what we do and how. We call it ‘dance-ocracy.’ Everyone has a voice and a vote. We inspire each other so well, that it has become great fun to make up new dances. If we get stumped, we just move on and come back to it later.”

Tirza and Midnight Mirage are on the cutting edge of Danse Orientale, or as they call it, “belly dancing with a twist.” As Tirza told me,

“I would love to see our belly dance community keep growing and evolving. All the different aspects, tribal, folkloric, classical Egyptian, fusion, are fabulous. The general public just doesn’t know enough about belly dancing. People need to see what a truly beautiful art form it is.”

And I couldn’t agree more!

You can see Tirza perform solo and with the Midnight Mirage Dance Company at “Mirage in Winter,” February 9 & 10, at Totem’s. Go to www.midnightmirage.com for ticket and workshop information.

Linda Linda means beautiful, beautiful. Often called “Utah’s Best Kept Secret,” I believe the secret is out.

A self-proclaimed military brat, Linda Linda’s formative years were spent in several locations, but landed in San Diego for her teen years. It was during a visit to a Renaissance Faire in California that she saw her first belly dancers and became entranced with the movement and the music. Always wanting to be a dancer, she studied African, ballet, modern and jazz, but it was belly dancing that claimed her passion. “I thought belly dancing was a whole new vocabulary of movement. It looked like so much fun!” she says.

Linda Linda - Belly Dance
Linda Linda – Belly Dance

In 1993, Linda Linda moved to Salt Lake City and watched the dancers at the Utah Belly Dance Festival. It was then that she became totally inspired and motivated to begin learning the mystical art of belly dancing.

“I had no desire or thoughts of performing. I just wanted to take the classes and have fun,” Linda Linda explained. “I was on stage in six months.”

Linda Linda has studied with Kismet, Zahira and Thia, but it was her training with Thia that pushed her to the forefront of her artistic development.

“Thia called me one night and asked me if I wanted to dance at the Grecian Gardens,” she says. “I ended up dancing at the Grecian two nights a week, two shows a night for eight years. I honed my skills there, dancing to live music.

“As far as dancers that have impressed me, I love Aziza’s clean technique and free, expressive flow and energy. But it is truly Thia that has inspired, motivated and supported me these past 10 years.”

Linda Linda was a member of Thia’s Night Jewels troupe, and for the past six years, has taught a beginning adult class for Thia’s Egyptian Dance Center, and recently started a children’s class.

“I am not hooked on any particular style,” Linda says. “I work on Egyptian, but I like the challenge of balancing technique and the beauty of expression. I don’t want to ever be predictable.”

Linda Linda, like her name, is a very beautiful person, inside and out. I most enjoy her performances when she is dancing with live musicians such as Kairo by Night or Desert Wind. She seems comfortable and free to express herself totally through the movement. Linda Linda has that psychic sense of communication with the musicians and anticipates and knows what to do and when. Almost shy off the stage, she is anything but shy on the stage. Her sensual essence emerges as she dances, and is engaging and entertaining.

“I learned to dance to live music. I am at home there,” she says. “It frees me from the torment of having to decide what music to use. I just get to dance.”

Linda Linda will be performing at Belly Dance Spring Fest on Saturday, March 5, and also at the Grecian Gardens, Thia’s June show, and the Utah Belly Dance Festival. For more information on these events, go to www.bellydancingbythia.com.

Calypso Bellydance 2
Calypso – Photo: Chris Yeller

Calypso has been one of my favorite Utah dancers since I first saw her perform. She is part of what I call Salt Lake’s “Dynamic Duo” and one of the founders and directors of the Midnight Mirage School and Dance Company.

 

Quite shy and reticent about her solo performances, I find her to be one of the most accomplished, artistic and engaging dancers in our community. She is also a very compassionate and caring individual. The gentleness of her soul and her passion for dance are always evident in her performances.

 

Calypso is a native Utahn. She has always loved to dance, studying and jazz and ballet primarily. She was a member of the Utah Stars Drill Team for four years. She turned to belly dancing in 1996 to ease the stress in her life. In 1997, she was asked to join the Kismet Dance Troupe, where she met Jamileh, and, as they say, the rest is history.
 

 

“I love the group dynamic on stage, Calypso explained. “I like a dance company that is totally working together. Most nationally acclaimed dancers perform in front of their troupes. I want the troupe to be the star—everyone in sync with each other, and not focused on just one person. That is my vision.”

 

Calypso brings her vision to reality with the innovative choreography of the Midnight Mirage Dance Company. Jillina and Naima Akef are her favorite dancers, but no one rates higher in her estimation than her partner, Jamileh, who is also her best friend.

 

Calypso Bellydance
Calypso Bellydance

“We created Midnight Mirage in order to challenge and motivate ourselves. Together, we inspire each other to continue to learn and be inspired into uncharted territory.”

 

“Midnight Mirage doesn’t fit into a box of ideas on how belly dancing should be performed. We took our ideas, our experiences and our dreams and with the core technique of belly dancing, created what we wanted to do. Diversity is what makes life, art and dance interesting. Why do we all want to look the same? If we are all doing the same thing, it is boring. We are entertainers, and we are here to entertain.”

 

Calypso, with her partner, Jamileh, has created fresh, innovative and new dimensions of Middle Eastern Dance. They aren’t afraid to take risks with their dancing, which has earned the company many prestigious awards. Calypso herself was named Entertainer of the Year and Egyptian Dancer of the Universe in 2003.

 

“As I travel around the country with Midnight Mirage, dancing and teaching workshops, I have become aware of the fabulous dance community we have in Utah. The level of dance here is superb, and we need to be proud of what we have created and promote it in a positive light.”

 

Catch Calypso at the Moab Arts Festival, Beledi of Boise and the Utah Belly Dance Festival with Midnight Mirage Dance Company along with her solo performances at Cedars of Lebanon.