Evaluators

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AMAYA

Amaya was the first to fuse Flamenco with Arabic Dance through the song "Amayagueña" composed especially for her by Ibrahim El Samahy. Known for her fluid and dynamic dance style, Amaya is a sought-after instructor who can teach everyone, from the beginning dancer to the professional performer. She is the producer of the best-selling DVD “American Legends in Belly Dance,” honoring the American icons of Oriental Dance. Amaya also hosts the annual Wise Woman Retreat in New Mexico to a small group of like-minded dance spirits.

Having performed in over 21 countries, Amaya credits her mentor and dance partner, the late Roman Balladine, for opening many dance doors around the world for her. Her circus work in Germany and Switzerland were milestones in her dance career. An iconic and internationally known dancer, Amaya was awarded two lifetime achievement awards, as well as the Top Dancer of the Year award by the International Academy of Middle Eastern Dance (IAMED).
 

KAESHI CHAI

Kaeshi Chai is an NYC-based performer, theatrical director, teacher trainer, and award-winning designer. She co-founded the professional dance company and school, Bellyqueen, and Public Urban Ritual Experiment (PURE), a global community focused on healing and social change through dance and music. Kaeshi has extensive training in contemporary dance, physical theatre, and Silk Road dances spanning the Middle East to China. She has taught or performed in 47 states and 38 countries.

 

She is an alumna of the Bellydance Superstars, Jillina’s Bellydance Evolution, and Kenji William’s Bella Gaia and curates the Djam NYC event for dancers and musicians to create and play together. Current projects include Ocean Stories, a performance integrating art and science to create more environmental awareness and Creative Labs in which participants conceptualize, choreograph, and mount full-length theatrical dance shows in 3-4 days.

SABRIYE TEKBILEK

Sabriye Tekbilek is an international performer and instructor of Middle Eastern dance whose stage presence and technique have been shaped by a lifetime of international performance and study.  She is the daughter of renowned Turkish musician, "Haci" Ahmet Tekbilek, and Lisa Djeylan, once an international bellydancer herself. As a child and young adult, Sabriye studied many dance forms, including Flamenco, Ballet, and Middle Eastern dance.

 

While attending the University of California at Berkeley, she began taking classes with renowned teacher Suhaila Salimpour and quickly became a member of the Suhaila Dance Company and Bal Anat. She is currently one of the few authorized instructors of the Suhaila Salimpour Format and holds the highest level of certification available in both Jamila and Suhaila Salimpour formats.

 

From 2005 to 2012, Sabriye was based in the Middle East where she taught and performed throughout the Gulf and North Africa. Sabriye has to date danced in nearly 20 countries, performing at exclusive venues including the Nobel Prize Party, Warner Bros. Studios, the Miss India Competition, and regularly performs globally for dignitaries.

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APRIL ROSE

April Rose is an Austin-based teacher and performer inspired by dances from Middle Eastern, North African, Hellenistic, and Turkish (MENAHT) cultures. Currently, she hosts the online and in-person training program, Dance Cohesion, in which she teaches movement, music, and research that highlights the timeless beauty and modern versatility of MENAHT dance. April has taught and performed in over 20 countries. April earned a master’s degree in Culture and Performance, and a bachelor’s in Dance from the University of California at Los Angeles in 2012, where she investigated bellydance history and was trained in the choreographic method and a variety of dance disciplines.

KAREN BARBEE

Karen Barbee Adkinsson began studying bellydance at the age of 10. Decades later and after years of professional performance, Karen has developed a teaching methodology for this dance form based on technical precision, soulful innovation, and cultural respect. With degrees in accounting and computer science, Karen’s analytical tendencies, training, and skills have assisted her in developing methods and curricula that are extremely popular in the western world. Through her years of performing and teaching, she has traveled the United States, Europe, Central and South America, and Asia. 

 

A pioneer in online Middle Eastern dance instruction, Karen has introduced and populated a library of online instruction that simulates her established studio, offering classes in dance technique, combinations, choreographies, improvisation, and music studies. Karen has operated Karavan Studio in San Antonio, Texas for over 30 years, directed numerous staged productions of Middle Eastern Dance, and continues to collaborate and work with some of the most highly acclaimed musicians in the business to train the country’s current and future professional dancers.

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SAHIRA

Sahira is a lifelong performer and has studied music, drama, and dance since the age of two. She has dedicated the last 20 years of her life to the art of bellydance. She has trained in both Egyptian and Tribal style bellydance as well as Modern and West African dance and loves to incorporate all these influences in her art. In 2005, Sahira released her first instructional DVD, “Arabian Spices” and has since then been invited to teach and perform across the USA and the world. In 2006 she was the first tribal instructor ever invited to teach at the largest belly dance festival in the world: Ahlan We Sahlan, in Egypt. When in Houston, Sahira directs and performs with Bella Donna, voted Houston’s Best Belly Dancers by the Houston Press. She is the founder and director of Houston’s premiere Tribal Style troupe, Urban Hips.

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