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2024 WAMED Festival Teachers

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Melissa Gamal

​WAMED is delighted to introduce to you – Melissa Gamal from Toronto!
Melissa is an award-winning dancer based in Toronto, Canada. Her fluid movement style and refined musical interpretation have made her an internationally admired Raqs Sharqi (bellydance) artist.
As an experienced instructor, her classes and workshops are sought after for her attention to technique as well as her knowledge of historical and cultural contexts. Melissa has been invited to teach and perform across Canada, the USA, and in Egypt. As a guest in this cultural art form, she travels regularly to Egypt for her own personal studies, in order to bring the most informed and up-to-date instruction to her classes. She believes in being a “forever student”.

Melissa is the Director of the Ya Amar School of Dance, with the goal of providing comprehensive training in various *MENAHT dances, specifically focused on Egyptian raqs sharqi and folkloric/social styles. Melissa has also gained a reputation in recent years as a top-notch event producer for bringing rising stars, scholars and master instructors to the Canadian dance scene.
*MENAHT: Middle East, North Africa, Hellenic (Greek), and Turkey

In recent years she's become known for her Golden Era dance styling, and her mastery of Sagat (finger cymbals), and was invited to play at the Cairo Opera House in December 2021.

We are so excited to be able to host Melissa at WAMED 2024 - our 25th Anniversary Festival!

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Alma Sarhan (WA)

Alma Sarhan’s photography needs no introduction as she is one of the top dance photographers in the country. Her work was a regular feature in Bellydance Oasis Magazine and she has photographed the WAMED concerts for many years. Alma has also been a bellydance performer and teacher for 30 years and was a finalist in the Fremantle International Portrait Prize in 2017 with one of her dance photographs. Her work featured in The Art of Bellydance exhibition as part of WAMED Festival 2019.
She is a Fremantle-based artist and advertising art director. She specialises in photographing dancers (in particular belly dancers), musicians and cats.
Alma is a graduate of the National College of Art and Design in Dublin, Ireland

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Andriya (WA)

 Andriya has been dancing and performing Middle Eastern Dance in various forms since 2003 when she was first welcomed to the Perth bellydance scene by Shaheena. Her own learning opportunities and exposure to different styles and techniques have been bolstered by international artists from Egypt, Turkey, Europe, and the USA. Having dipped her toes into most available forms of bellydance at various times, Andriya has found herself strongly drawn to Egyptian dance in its many styles and flavours. She also revels in theatrical dance styles and working with props – sword, cane, veil, zils, riq, shamadan, melaya, wings, voi  - there aren’t many that she hasn’t collected and played with over the years.

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Becky (WA)

One of Becky's ongoing sources of inspiration is a quote by Helen Keller.  'Some things can't be seen or heard, they can only be experienced with the heart.'   Passionate about holistic wellbeing, whether through her profession in counselling, mental health fields or interest therapeutics modalities from expressive arts including body based practices.   Becky believes dance and movement  hold power to take us on a journey of self discovery, empowerment, healing, creativity  and connection.   This lead Becky over 25 years ago to Global Caravan Dance (GC) seeking to build on  other styles of bellydance and movement she had studied. Since then, GC  has become part of the tool kit Becky draws from as she walk or shall we say dances beside people.   Attaining certification as Principal Teacher Level 1, Teacher Training Level 5, Collective Soul Level 7 all through annual training  in person intensives with Paulette Rees-Denis in the USA  pre COVID.  Becky has found GC a source of ongoing inspiration and a medium in it's own right or alongside other styles of dance and movement in support of her own wellbeing and others.

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Cat Rowbottam (WA)

Dance and music have been a part of Cat's life since a young age and she has enjoyed dabbling in many different styles. In 2018, Cat discovered Global Caravan Tribal Bellydance and was immediately taken with the style. Dancing together with a group of diverse women, making beautiful connections through dancing improvisation, and dressing up in the colourful and unique costuming were all capturing aspects of the format. Cat is a certified GCTB teacher and has completed Collective Soul 3.
Cat's enthusiasm to share dance and music with others is evident in her warm and patient teaching style. She is passionate about providing a safe and inclusive environment, for everyone to explore movement and music, and to connect with themselves and others.

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Jess Moreno (NSW)

Jess is an organic and versatile belly dancer who began training in 2008, when she fell head over heels in love with Egyptian Oriental and Theatrical Folkloric dances. Studying with various Sydney based teachers, she slowly developed into the heartfelt and joyful performer you can see dancing at various restaurants and functions across Sydney today. Jess enjoys jet setting across the seas (or state lines) for a range of dance workshops, as well as participating in Theatrical Belly Dance projects, where she continues to pick up new tricks and tips to incorporate into her own style.

Jess loves sharing that 'warm-fuzzy feeling you can only get from having a really good shimmy' through her dance classes as "Shimmy Juju Belly Dance". Not to mention being the Team Leader for Shimmy Mob-Sydney, and has been for the past 6 years.

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Johara (NSW)

Johara is an established performer and teacher based in Sydney. She has a wealth of knowledge having studied with many Australian and international teachers. Johara has developed into a passionate dancer and has a unique style that draws from her diverse knowledge of Folkloric genres to Classical and Modern Egyptian Raqs Sharqi. She integrates fluid footwork, graceful turns and spins with dynamic Egyptian hip and belly movements.

Since 2014 Johara has delved into the history of the Awalim as well as their style of dance. She has had the privilege of studying privately with two of the pre-eminent international experts in this field - Nisaa of St Louis and Shining Peacekeeper - as well as conducting her own research into the dance style and techniques.

Over the years, Johara has been a regular favourite at many Australian dance festivals, as well as travelling to teach and perform internationally. Currently teaching online dance technique (as well as yoga) classes with Inspire Bellydance, students enjoy her detailed knowledge, technical skill and precision, as well as her deep understanding of body mechanics.

Her resume and her dancing are impressive and varied, reflecting her passion and love for both the dance as well as sharing her knowledge with students and audiences alike.

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Jrisi (NSW)

One of the few professionally trained Iranian dancers in Sydney under the tutelage and support of Helia Bandeh, Jrisi has carved out a captivating dance journey, seamlessly blending traditional Persian grace with contemporary flair within the Persian community in Sydney. Her professional dance company The Iranian Dance Ensemble have presented in yearly Norooz, Yalda and Sizdahbedar festivals as well as gracing the state with Persian Pop superstar Aref at the prestigious Capital Theatre.
Jrisi brings the elegance, colour, and rich tradition of Persian dance to life.

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Kiri (WA)

Kiri is an experienced and passionate dancer, with a good understanding of body mechanics. Watching her students confidence and creative expression grow, keeps her constantly inspired. She prides herself on providing a supportive, safe dance environment for connection and community. Having dealt with a big health scare in the last 12 months, reflection has been a very important part of her recovery.

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Lorralei of Mandragora (SA)

Lorralei of Mandragora, has her passion firmly rooted in gothic and experimental fusion styles of Bellydance. She is known for creating both theatrical and deeply emotive performances. She loves exploring the full emotional experience within an explorative dance space.
Currently undertaking her Bachelor of  Art Therapy. Lorralei is a Teacher at Bellydance Amethyst, teaching workshops in mindful breath movement, emotional exploration, and gothic fusion styles.

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Michelle (WA)

Michelle loves all forms of dancing and has been bellydancing for over 15 years. She has travelled to Egypt, Turkey, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan and has trained with a variety of master teachers in order to expand and develop her knowledge and technique. Michelle particularly enjoys exploring the unique regional styles of the Silk Road from the Middle East into Central Asia and beyond. Michelle regularly teaches Bellydance, Bollywood and Persian dance. Michelle is a polished performer with an infectious energy who has been placed in competitions both nationally and in Asia. Michelle is a regular performer in Perth and founder of the popular Bollywood Dhamaka! performance troupe known for high energy entertainment.

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Rachel Bond (NSW)

Rachel Bond is the principal of Inspire Bellydance, Sydney’s largest bellydance school. She believes that Oriental Dance is primarily about sharing joy: whether through helping women connect to their bodies and find their creativity, or bringing smiles to the faces of audience members. As a teacher, Rachel focusses on making the dance accessible without sacrificing technical precision and cultural relevance. Within the dance community she is known for being highly educated in Egyptian dance in particular, having studied both Raqs Sharqi and folklore styles for many years.

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Rita (VIC)

Rita is a Lebanese born, Australian bred Lebanese bellydance artist. Having started her dance journey in Melbourne around 1996 as a dance student, then going on to perform and teach on and off up till now, Rita is experienced in making memorable dance performances for weddings especially in the Lebanese Oriental Dabke/zaffe style. Rita has trained with Gaby Shiba Lebanese Dabke master and continues to train with masters in Australia and overseas both in Lebanese and Egyptian style bellydance.

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Rose Ottaviano (WA)

Rose, is regarded as one of Australia's most sought after performers and instructors, whose technique and innovative choreography have garnered international regard. A disciplined professional, she has extensive experience in performing and entertaining audiences from restaurants to gala openings and large theatrical settings both in Australia and overseas. Rose is the pinnacle of passion, technique and powerful creative expression, She combines grace and elegance with an intensity that grabs you and doesn’t let you go till the end of the dance!

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