Monday, August 29, 2016

Teacher Feature: Asharah

Asharah, one of Core Instructors, will be returning this year to teach two fabulous workshops!

Let's Make a Show! Cabaret-Style Sets for Contemporary Belly Dance
Friday October 14th 10:30-12:30 PM

Create an exciting set, using music from your library, based in the templates of the American Cabaret 3/5/7-part show. Music can be Middle Eastern, or not, and we'll explore how non-Middle Eastern music can have analogues to the songs found in the classic cabaret sets of both North America and the Middle East. Students should bring a collection of music that they might wish to dance to or are already using in performance. Bring at least: two fast/up-tempo songs, two medium songs, and two slower/softer songs.

Watching Dance to Make Dance
Saturday October 15th 1:15-2:45 PM

When we are watching dance, how do we know what we’re watching and how we’re interpreting what we see? Being able to describe dance and how we see it is an essential part of watching and making dances. Using Laban Movement Analysis and other methods, this experiential lecture-workshop will give participants basic tools for looking at, describing, and interpreting dances. Wear comfortable clothes, as we will do some moving. Do bring your dance journal!

More about Asharah:

Abigail "Asharah" Keyes is a dancer and dance educator based in the San Francisco Bay Area. With a background in Middle Eastern studies, her focus is on belly dance and Middle Eastern folk dances, as well as their Euro-American fusions. She has taught throughout the Americas, Canada, Europe, and Asia; and her 2008 instructional DVD, Modern Tribal Bellydance with Asharah, is still considered by many dancers to be one of the best instructional belly dance DVDs on the market for belly dancers of all styles and levels. She wishes to foster curiosity, a strong work ethic, creativity and individuality, as well as an overall improved sense of physical and mental well-being in all of her students. Exchanging knowledge—physical, historical, cultural, and creative—is the ultimate goal of every class, for beginners and experienced dancers alike.

She is currently earning an M.A. in Dance at Mills College in Oakland, with focus on history and pedagogy. She is certified Level 4 in the Suhaila Salimpour Format—the first ever tiered certification program in belly dance—Level 3 in the Jamila Salimpour Format, and is working towards the Level 5 teaching certification in both programs. Additionally, she holds a B.A. from Princeton University in Near Eastern Studies. She is a staff instructor at the Salimpour School of Belly Dance, has appeared with Zoe Jakes’ Bhoomi Project and Beats Antique to audiences of over 3,000 people, and performs regularly with Bal Anat and the Suhaila Dance Company.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Teacher Feature: Artemis

We are SO excited to have Artemis return to Waking Persephone as a Core Instructor! Artemis will be offering an array of workshop that you do not want to miss!

Romany (Gypsy) Music, Dance and Culture Workshop
Saturday October 15th 1:15-4:45 PM
Register here:

This lecture workshop separates fact from fiction about Romany music, dance, history and culture from many different Romany cultures throughout the world. We compare and contrast features of the dances and music. There is ample DVD footage. We discuss the truth about Romany culture and history and how it is quite different from the false stereotyped fantasies and biases that abound.

Sacred Dance Workshop with Artemis
Sunday October 16th 9:00-10:30 AM
Register here:

Using ancient traditions, we will can connect and reconnect with why we dance. The ancient ones used movement and dance to create changes in their lives. Through movement, they communicated with their deities and with the forces of nature. They healed the sick, they asked for what they needed, they praised their deities, they sought their protection, they banished what they wanted to be rid of and sometimes they used themselves as vessels so that the deities could dance through them. This workshop and the accompanying ritual includes a brief orientation to sacred dance and a one hour movement based ritual. Come and experience the joy and power of using movement and dance to create changes in your lives. We welcome people from all spiritual backgrounds. It is our hope to inspire, empower and enlighten all participants.

For the ritual, we ask that you make two separate lists on two pieces of is a wish list of what you want to bring into your lives and one of what you want to get rid of. You will then copy over the things you want to get rid of onto flash paper which you will burn during the ritual. This is a powerful and purposeful act and the more time you put into these list, the better. Think of it as a New Year's Resolution only with the power of group prayer behind it. These lists are for your eyes only. You will take your wish list home with you. Please dress for comfort and freedom of movement. You may wish to wear attire or jewelry that is of spiritual significance to you. We very much look forward to your presence. Artemis has been participating in and sharing sacred dance with others for over 40 years.

Tagteam Timeline: History of Belly Dance
With Tempest AND Artemis
Sunday October 16th 1:30-3:00 PM
Register here:

Join Artemis and Tempest as they cover the History of Belly Dance! As with all things in life, you have to know where you came from so that you will understand where you are now and where to go from here. This ancient art form has been much misunderstood. Its origins came from prehistoric worship, then to the Temples of Hathor and it has flourished for thousands of years in its various permutations, finally makings its way into cabarets worldwide. We will explore the many roots of the dance - sacred and secular. Dance was used to invite, entice and communicate with divinities and mortals alike. Dance was carried along the Romany (Gypsy) trail from India to the world. The Almees, also known as "the wise women...the learned females" entertained and educated the people of North Africa. Public performers made their ways to the cabarets of the Middle East and eventually to Europe. America and beyond. Egyptian, Turkish, Lebanese and American styles of Oriental belly dance have flourished. A new art form was born - American Tribal style and in its turn, that gave birth to many other wonderful newer art forms. Regardless of your style or level of dance, you are bound to enjoy many "Ah Ha! Moments" as this workshop connects the dots and fills in the gaps.

Core Instructor Ritual Guides, Community Cleanse: Rinse, Ground, Grow, Repeat
With all Core Instructors
Sunday October 16th 3:30-5:00 PM
Register here:

This workshop wraps up our weekend with a ritual that will help you learn how to shed the layers and issues that you don't need, illuminate your own dance path and place within/without the larger community, retain the best parts of your experience, use them to grow the chart your journey further, while assisting you in finding ways to keep the high going all year long. Processes will include energy work, trance, and zar techniques. Wear comfortable clothing!

More about Artemis:

Artemis has been dancing, teaching and researching dance history in the United States and abroad for over 40 years. She is best known for her work with Oriental dance and Turkish Romany dance. But she was first drawn to Middle Eastern dance in the 1970s because of the spirituality of it. In those days, she had to be self taught because there were very few dancers who talked about their spiritual connection to the dance. However, she traveled extensively to gather information and illustrations of the sacred dances of Egypt, Greece, Crete and Rome. She believes that we can all use art to build bridges across cultures. And when doing sacred dance, we can use music and dance to build a bridge across time to connect with the ancient ones who danced before us. Artemis has an M.A. in psychology, an M.S.W. in social work (with specialized studies in cross cultural awareness) and has done postgraduate work in dance movement therapy. She has lectured, taught and/or performed for Cornell University and Princeton University, National Public Radio (NPR), Voice of America and in Spain, England, France, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Canada, Japan, Greece, Turkey, Australia and in 33 states within the United States. Artemis is listed in the International Dance Council (CID) Who's Who of Dance. Her photograph can be found in the International Encyclopedia of Dance under the listing for "danse du ventre" (translates to "belly dance") which is produced by the Oxford University Press. She has won the "Ethnic Dancer of the Year Award" presented by the International Academy of Middle Eastern Dance (IAMED) and has won the "Most Popular Ethnic Dancer Award" from Zaghareet Magazine twice. Artemis has also won their "Lifetime Achievement Award."

Friday, August 19, 2016

Teacher Feature: Annwyn Avalon

Give a big welcome to guest instructor Annwyn Avalon!

On Saturday morning, October 15th, she is presenting: "How to create Sacred Dance space and a Sacred Dance practice" 
Description: Dance is sacred and can be turned into a daily practice by creating sacred space and choreography. However many might not know where to start! In this class we will explore the elements that make up a sacred dance practice including the basics of setting up space, different cleansing methods, energetic prep work and how to create a dance altar. We will explore things such as music selection, working with Deity or spirits in devotion, creating vision boards, dance talisman, and even using henna as part of your dance practice. We will also discuss creating sacred space for others and what to take into consideration when hosting a Sacred Dance Ritual for others. By the end of the class the student should have a good understanding of a Sacred Dance practice and should have the confidence to create their own practice at home, merging dance and spirituality.

More about Annwyn:
Art, in various forms and media, has shaped Annwyn into the woman she is today. Whether it is through painting, dancing, henna, spell craft, or even Priestessing, Annwyn uses the wellspring of creative forces within her Divine Feminine to birth and transform thought into reality. Annwyn Avalon is a Priestess, Artist, Dancer and Witch recently relocated to Portland, Oregon from Phoenix, Arizona. Through the power of her watery nature, Annwyn is driven to constantly grow and transform through her love of the Esoteric and Dance. Through Oriental Fusion, Annwyn focus’ much of her esoteric devotional practices using Sacred Dance. She believes that the power of dance also contains the power of healing and that by combining dance and magic, people everywhere can bring deep nourishment to the mind, body and spirit. She is the founder and creatrix of Triskele Rose Witchcraft and Water Magic Course on Witchcraft. She is a Priestess of many Goddesses and uses her Sacred Dance Practice to show devotion to the Deity’s she serves.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Teacher Feature: Ami Amore'

Returning to Waking Persephone this year is the unparalleled Ami Amore'. One of our Core instructors, she will be teaching 2 diverse workshops this year. "How to build a successful bellydance show" Friday from 4:30 - 6:00 PM, and "Elemental Combos" Saturday from 3:00-4:30 PM.

You can register now at

Get advice and essential knoweldge for how to make your show a hit with "How to build a successful bellydance show." As a show producer for over 7 years and a show 6 years in the making "Ami Amore's Urban Cabaret" did not become an over night success without much labor and trial and error. This seminar will provide insight and ideas into producing a long-term running or a one-time bellydance show geared towards bellydancers and the general public alike. How to use social media to the best of your ability without spending a ton of cash. How to scout and pick out venues, communication with venue owners, etc. What to avoid, what to look for, what to do or not do. What kinds of fees to expect, where to spend your money and where to save it. But make sure to bring notebooks and writing implement and be prepared to take notes and ask questions.

Open your mind and train your body with Ami's popular workshop "Elemental Combos". Learn 4 distinctly different combos embracing and embodying the elements with moves influenced by and channeling these elements as well as the elemental intention behind these combos and movements. Bring a notebook and an open mind!

More about Ami:
Ami Amore' is a lifelong artist. Starting with drawing, painting, fashion, B&W photography and finally, her discovery of bellydance in 1999. From her first class with Serena of Aalim, she was hooked and knew this was going to be a life long journey. She joined Aalim Dance Co. in 2002. Then, in 2006, forming Chuvani Bellydance with some like-minded individuals. She fell in love with tribal fusion in 2006 after seeing a Bellydance Superstars show in St. Louis. Her style is ever-changing and ever evolving and currently borders on the stylings of dark fusion, hip hop and cabaret and could often be considered theatrical.
Ami has been practicing yoga since 1996, so it’s only natural that she would incorporate her two passions, bellydance and yoga, into her career. Ami has been teaching yoga consistently for over 4 years now since she earned her 200hr ryt in 2010.  Ami believes yoga and bellydance are both the union of spirit, mind and body and incorporates a love yourself and listen to your body approach to all her classes.

Even though she has been teaching bellydance since 2006, she constantly continues her bellydance education through taking workshops in all styles around the country, because she believes she has something she can learn from everyone and one never should stop learning. Through thick and thin, Ami has come back to dance as her form of creative expression, her passion. No matter what is going on in life, dance is always there.
Ami has a wide list of accomplishments, but she is most proud of her drive to make her many passions a sustaining career. With years of hardwork and determination, she currently  boasts 2 dance troupes – Exotic Rhythms (started 2006) and Mosaic (in 2012), monthly sold-out “Bellydance Bootcamps”, teaching 9 classes per week (6 dance and 3 yoga), being a sought after performer, workshop presenter and a successful bellydance show producer and event host.

When Ami isn't out taking the bellydance world by storm she enjoys collecting junk, making jewelry and headpieces under the moniker of Amorticous, tending to “the beetles”, taking her snake "little boo-boo" out for long walks, reading, writing, painting, biking, hiking, running, doing yoga or cooking delicious food.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Teacher Feature: Amel Tafsout

We're pleased to welcome Amel Tafsout as one of our core instructors for 2016!  She will be offering two workshops over the weekend, one of which is a 3 hour intensive.

On Friday: Sacred Dance Workshop on Sufi Healing (3 hours): This dance workshop welcomes everyone who shares an interest in dance as a language of personal and communal spiritual expression. This workshop embraces a rich diversity of dance movements, cultures, spiritual traditions and abilities in order to enable an integration of body, mind and spirit.The workshop includes body and breath work, sound healing and chanting (Zikr), leading to whirling and ending with Zar-Hadra, an ancient healing ceremony in the Middle East and Africa. Awaken your Body. Nurture your Spirit. Come, dance your release and be rebirthed in a non-judgmental space!

The workshops consists of the following:

Part 1. Welcoming and creating the sacred space, Warm up - Body work and movement - isolation and stretching, Breath work: Sufi breathing using the elements, Sound healing, Zikr Sufi chanting, Weaving into each other creating the Oneness

Part 2. Introduction to whirling, Slow whirling in two directions, Whirling in one direction: Clockwise and counter clockwise

Part 3. Introduction to Trance and techniques, Immersion in the world of trance as a healing practice, Zar-Hadra

Part 4. Relaxation, Meditation, Stretching, Celebration of the new energies and Rebirth, Closing ceremony

Please wear comfortable clothing, preferably white and bring a small blanket and a long shawl for the workshop. For the Sunday session, you are invited to bring chocolate/ candies/ nuts or fruit to share and some flowers.Awaken your Body. Nurture your Spirit. Come, dance, release and be rebirthed in a non-judgmental space.

On Sunday: Moroccan Shikhat Dance (90 minutes): Morocco has different traditional dances and musical styles rooted in Arab, Berber and African cultures. Music and dance are an integral part of life. The Moroccan arts reflect the many cultural backgrounds and ethnicity found there. Therefore Moroccan dance varies from one place to another. It’s a way of women sharing and being together. It is joyous, sensual, and energetic, and is performed mainly at weddings, parties and ritual ceremonies. At these gatherings the women wear beautiful dresses when they dance; long, flowing and colorful, with belts around their waists. Many of the movements in the dances have symbolic meanings.

Dance of the Shikhat - Shikhat is the name given in Morocco to the female performers of this type of dance. The meaning of this term comes from the Arabic (Sheykha which means “wise woman”) this name is due to the fact that shikhat are considered ‘women of the world’, professional female performers who perform in rituals and celebrations in Morocco. However, in Moroccan Darija dialect, Schikkat are singers/performers/entertainers who sing about life, love, sadness, and nostalgia all aspects of life. Shikat are essential in

traditional Moroccan wedding celebrations and other festivities.
The role of the shikha - The best shikhat have recorded their performances on video, which has raised their profile as it has helped highlight the artistic and cultural value of their dance. This has resulted in improving their financial situations and also in making the government aware of the role of shikhat as part of Moroccan cultural heritage. Nowadays, while the attitude towards shikhat is still

ambivalent, they are also seen as embodiments of Moroccan culture and their dance is often displayed at cultural events and for tourists.

Dance movements - There are different styles of Shikhat dance, according to the different regions of Morocco. However, this dance genre is generally characterized by fast and energetic hip movements, belly drops, shimmies and rotations of the head that let the dancers’ long hair flow freely. Shikhat usually perform in groups of six or four and they are accompanied by a singer (male or female, but often the shikhat herself sings) and musicians (often male) who play Moroccan traditional instruments, including drums and violins (kamanjeh). Some shikhat play finger cymbals, called mooukas, while dancing, or a small drum shaped like a derbouka called taarija.

The dancers dance together or alternate each other in solo performances. In the solo part, the dance starts slowly but it then increases in intensity, with isolated movements of the hips that go faster and faster and bouncy little steps. Dancers dance also on their footballs, or on flat feet with rather shuffling steps. At some point the dancer will start spinning on herself at times and also rotating her head, in order to let her long hair move freely. These hair moves are done to enhance the trance mood because all Moroccan dance styles are trance dances. There is some floor work involved as the dancer kneels on the ground, while still moving her head up and down

and side to side. Their hip movements are rooted in African dance tradition.

Costumes - Shikhat usually wear long caftans, with long bell shaped sleeves and embroidery and a belt around their waist. The styles change across Morocco, but this is the basic feature. Also, dancers wear a hip belt around their hips. A thick but not wide belt usually made of threaded wool with incorporated sequins. Also, dancers wear jewelry, which can be more or less elaborated. Amel Tafsout will give an introduction on the Shikhat while focusing on various techniques of the Shikhat from different regions. She also will teach some combinations used by the Shikhat.

About Amel: The legendary Amel Tafsout, meaning ‘Hopes of Spring’, is an inspirational first source master dance artist, choreographer, instructor, frame drummer, singer, energy worker and one of the finest exponents of North African traditional and contemporary Maghreb Dance of our time. With a research in dance anthropology, and a long training in various healing practices, Tafsout’s knowledge of her culture and her experience in many dance styles and music make her very unique.

Raised in Algeria among the finest traditional dancers and musicians, Tafsout was fascinated by dance and music since childhood. In her early twenties, Tafsout moved to Germany where she founded the Pan Arabic dance company 'Banat As Sahra'. In the late 80s, she moved to London, U.K. where she taught and performed at various dance and music festivals and founded 'The Tafsoutettes' Dance Company. While currently living in the U.S.A. she is still performing and teaching worldwide.

Tafsout is like a voyager between countries, culture and languages. Having worked and lived all over the world, unsurprisingly, migration has been a constant theme in her work. Fluent in 5 languages, she is always aware of the impact that cultures have in art and how that can be expressed in dance.

Amel has lectured, danced, taught, sung and conducted anthropological research in many countries. She has been featured in various TV programs in Europe and North Africa. She also published many articles related to dance and Maghreb women in academic and popular magazines. Her research focuses on the Ritual in Maghreb dances as well as looking at dance as a healing form. She explores the rich tapestry of movement and rhythm that has woven over time between Spain and the Maghreb, Africa and the Middle East, the Mediterranean Sea and Europe.

Tafsout developed, reconstructed and stylised the Maghreb dances through her dance experience, her research, her teaching and performances. She had mesmerized audiences around the world with the earthy fluidity of her dance, her stunning stage presence and great spirituality.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Teacher Feature: Kim Leary

Waking Persephone is pleased to welcome, Kim Leary, appearing at WP for the first time as one of our guest instructors! She will presenting "Funkloric Fusion© with Kim Leary" on Saturday, October 15th.  
About Kim's workshop: Get your groove on with Kim Leary in this funk and folkloric inspired dance party! Learn sassy moves and combinations that’ll make you glad you got up this morning! Get in touch with your inner pulse with fun and easy polyrhythmic infused movements. Discover ways to develop the vibe of folkloric North African and Middle Eastern dance through grooves you have been dancing to all of your life. If you’ve ever wanted to experience the funky fun that Groove Merchant Drum & Dance Ensemble has on stage, you won’t want to miss this class. No experience needed.

Kim Leary (Alexia) is a belly dance performer, choreographer and instructor in Central New Jersey. 2014 marked her 25th year exploring and working in world dance & music. Kim Leary’s (Alexia) dance accomplishments include teaching both credit and non-credit dance at Princeton University. She is Co-Artistic Director with Dave Merritt of the highly acclaimed Groove Merchant Drum & Dance Ensemble which has been voted Favorite Performers and Favorite musicians by NJ in 2012 through 2015. She is Co-Director of her school, The Drum & Dance Learning Center in Lawrenceville, New Jersey.

Ms. Leary has performed at numerous prestigious venues such as Lincoln Center, The Ohio Theatre (SOHO), CAMI Hall (NYC), DanceSpace (NYC), FIT (NYC), The Evolving Arts Theatre (NYC), The Black Box Theatre (NJ), as well as at many colleges, universities, and festivals as a soloist and with SaZ Dance Theatre, , her own dance company- Groove Merchant Drum & Dance Ensemble, Jamila Salimpour's Bal Anat and Dalia Carella's DNA Project Kim holds a certification in Training & Development as well as in Multiple Intelligences and the Arts from Kean University. She is a Level 2 Certified Dancer since 2000. In 2008 Kim became certified Level Two in the Jamila Salimpour Dance Format and earned a Level Two Certification in Sahra Saeeda's Journey Through Egypt Program. Kim received an Educator’s Dance Scholarship Award from Dance New Jersey and was voted New Jersey's Favorite Belly Dance Teacher. She has taught a variety of workshop topics at many festivals and events including Rakkasah East, Spring Caravan, Art of the Belly, Jewels of the Orient and The Austin Belly Dance Convention.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Teacher Feature: Aaliyah Jenny

WP is pleased to welcome Aaliyah Jenny - teaching for her first time at our event this year! She will be presenting Mirror Mirror a.k.a. how to get over the "I can't watch myself on video" syndrome, Saturday October 15th from 10:45-12:15pm. Aaliyah Jenny will share what she looks for in her own daily practice videos honed from daily improv throughout her breast cancer treatment, surgery & recovery. Improve your performance through personal critique methods used by Aaliyah Jenny. Learn to identify your strengths & areas needing attention. Become your own best coach! This workshop will be an analysis of your movement, intention & performance. Please bring a form of video recording device, pen & paper and a willingness to explore your growth as a performer!

More About Aaliyah Jenny:

Jenny C. Cohen, MSOT comes from a background of training in ballet, modern, hip hop, Near Eastern Dance, tap, and Polynesian Dance. After graduation from the prestigious Sargent College Masters Program of Boston University in Occupational Therapy, Jenny went on to work in general rehabilitation, orthopedics, pediatrics, cardiac and hand therapy while taking hip hop and tap classes at Broadway Dance in NYC and Jam in Long Island.

In her spare time, she is Aaliyah Jenny, a professional dancer specializing in world fusion with Near Eastern dance influences, teaching at Velveteen Serpent Studion in Salt Lake City, and most importantly a student of movement every opportunity she is given. She honored to count as her mentors Gia al Qamar, Aszmara, Rachel Brice, Sera Solstice and Donna Mejia. She has participated in Rachel Brice's 8 Elements Training Program Initiation & Cultivation. In January 2014, Aaliyah Jenny won 1st place in the Pro Tribal Fusion category at The East Coast Classic and was invited to perform in the Gala show at the Hanover Tribal Festival in Germany June 2014 where she placed 3rd in the Tribal Star Competition. She also won Bellydance Masters 2016 Pro Fusion Category and is the Jewels of the Orient 2016 Grand Champion Pro Fusion Tribal winner.

In the near future, Jenny C plans to launch her non-profit program Karma Rhythmics while taking steps to pursue her PhD, write her book and introduce her newest trio with her kids ""Made In Heaven” to the dance community.

Please visit for more information on Aaliyah Jenny’s travels and Jenny’s Transformation on FB for more details on her battle and victory over breast cancer."