2019 Teachers

Carolena Nericcio

Meet Carolena

Carolena Nericcio is the dynamic founder of the worldwide dance phenomenon called American Tribal Style® Dance.

An early fascination of permanent body adornment led 8-year-old Carolena to request that her father, Carl, a collector himself, to buy a ring she could “wear always and not take off”. This concept evolved into the study of folkloric textiles, a body full of tattoos and a collection of jewelry and textiles from around the world.

The discovery of belly dance led to the creation of her own dance style, American Tribal Style® (ATS®) Belly Dance. FatChanceBellyDance® was founded by Carolena Nericcio in 1987 and immediately captured the attention of audiences worldwide with stunning dance performances featuring majestic costuming and layers of tribal jewelry. The music, a carefully chosen collection of both traditional sounds and modern fusion adds to the effect. American Tribal Style® looks old, but it is actually new.

Donna Mejia

Meet Donna

Donna Mejia is the first Assistant Professor of transnational fusion dance globally, and Director of Graduate Studies in Dance at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She began teaching dance professionally at the age of 16, received her undergraduate education in Business from CU Boulder, and her MFA in Dance from Smith College on full fellowship. She has passionately enjoyed her adventures in teaching, performing, choreographing, directing, and learning all over the globe, and is devoted to the study of movement and non-verbal intelligences across human populations.  Donna is an affiliate faculty member in both Women and Gender Studies, and Ethnic Studies. She is also trained as an ethnomusicologist and sewist. She is the 2011 winner of the Selma Jeanne Cohen honor in International Dance Scholarship, the first transnational fusion choreographer of an off-Broadway production in NYC, and the first to perform this genre of dance at the venerated Kennedy Center and Apollo Theatre. She is single mother to an extraordinary daughter and an avid volunteer for human and animal healing efforts.  Updates can be found at https://donnainthedance.com/

Donovan Warnick

Meet Donovan

Donovan is a world percussionist based in Wellington Colorado. Over the past 3 decades he has taught and learned from hundreds of percussionists,  played in numerous bands, recorded a few albums and performed with belly dance troupes across the US. Love for world music and soul-lifting percussion drive his musical aspirations and teachings to this day.

Ebony Qualls

Meet Ebony

Ebony’s playful and sharing spirit flavors her performances and her teaching style. A founding instructor of Sahara Dance – Washington DC’s Center for Middle Eastern Dance – Ebony teaches traditional and urban fusion belly dance. She has been teaching for more than 14 years and her students describe her classes as “fun” and “challenging.” Newcomers to belly dance are Ebony’s favorite students and a major source of inspiration to her.

Strong technique, musicality, and innovation are the foundations of Ebony’s colorful dance presence and she performs both traditional raqs sharqi and her own dynamic fusion belly dance style, which originated through her background in oriental and urban dance genres. She has taught and performed in Asia, Canada, Europe and the United States and toured internationally with the world famous Bellydance Superstars and Bellydance Evolution and has performed in and choreographed for Zoe Jakes’ House of Tarot. Ebony has performed with Grammy nominated band Thievery Corporation, electronic musician and performance artist Peaches, and with Turkish/Electronic fusion recording artist Oojami.

A member of the award winning troupe Raqs Sahara, Ebony has guest performed with Solstice Ensemble, has directed fusion troupes Raquettes ShimmyPop and Raqs Caravan Urban, and is a soloist at a variety of venues including restaurants, private parties, weddings, festivals, concerts and theaters. She has starred in several music videos, on television shows and has headlined at major belly dance festivals such as Art of The Belly, Theatrical Bellydance Conference and Rakkasah Spring Caravan. She has also choreographed for Raqs Sahara, Sahara Tribal, Raqs Caravan West, Raqs Caravan East, and has directed both Raquettes ShimmyPop and Raqs Caravan Urban.

Ebony continues her own dance studies, training with world-renowned master instructors from traditional raqs sharqi and tribal fusion circuits.

Michelle Sorensen

Meet Michelle

Based in Salt Lake City, UT, Michelle Sorensen is a professional Belly Dancer with over a decade of dedicated dance training. She began her studies under the direction of Kismet School of Dance (American), Kashmir Dance Company (ATS & Tribal Fusion), Trisha Mcbride (Tribal Fusion and Experimental) and more recently Rachel Brice (8 elements Practitioner Phases 1,2,&3 Initiation, Cultivation, and Culmination Certified) and Stephanie Buranek (Cabaret/Egyptian). She has also sought continued instruction through workshops and other events from some of the most innovative dancers in and out of the belly dance scene. Along with bellydance, she has discovered a love for the Aerial Arts, Exotic Dance, Contemporary Dance and Dancehall/Twerk. “Cross-training” in these genres of dance has helped her with stamina, strength, flexibility and finding her own artistic voice. Her life is also occupied with being a mother of 2 sweet little girls who are a constant inspiration to push boundaries and a reminder to explore! She is available for instruction, private lessons and workshops both locally and internationally.

Elizabeth Ashner

Meet Elizabeth

Elizabeth Ashner is inspired by the bridges between creative movement, community connections and spiritual development. She thrives on creating community and loves producing inclusive events and projects that everyone can participate in and benefit from.
As the founder and director of the annual Elevation Belly Dance Extravaganza, Elizabeth draws on her experience as a dancer, designer and musician to produce dazzling shows and choreographed pieces that are as moving for the performers and they are for the audience.
Her studies in yoga (YTT200), meditation and spirituality, together with her interest in the precise mechanics of the muscles used in belly dance, ignited her desire to teach yoga and she recently created new “Mind-Belly-Spirit” coursework that combines belly dance with yoga and mindfulness.
Elizabeth has studied with many gifted teachers over the years, and earned certifications for Rachel Brice’s Datura Styletm Teacher Training and Carolena Nericcio’s American Tribal Style® teacher training.
She has a BA in Visual Design and Associates Degree in Technical Graphics from Purdue University and continues to provide the community with her brand of clothing, Ashner By Elizabeth. She currently teaches belly dance classes in Golden at PranaTonic Yoga Studio, Golden Community Center and The Colorado School of Mines.

Moria Chappell

Meet Moria

Moria Chappell is a world renowned performance artist, dance instructor, ancient dance researcher, artistic director, and costume designer who specializes in Tribal Fusion Belly Dance, Temple Dance, and Indian Odissi Classical Dance. She has performed, taught, and researched ancient dance in 46 countries over her 20 year dance career. Known for her archetypal approach to performance craft, her style is both feminine and fierce, ancient and modern, sacred and strange.

Frank Farinaro

Meet Frank

From the Land of Enchantment, Frank Farinaro is overjoyed to be returning to his home-state of Colorful Colorado. From humble beginnings to the world-stage, he has been a pioneering force in male bellydance and cultural-fusion. Over his 13-year career, Frank has taught and performed nationally in 20 US States, as well as internationally in Israel, Colombia, Mexico, and Russia. In 2012 he co-headlined a first-of-its-kind bellydance show featuring an all-male cast of bellydancers, and an all-female percussion ensemble. In 2013 he was a principle choreographer for the first all-male Tribal Fusion troupe to perform at Tribal Fest. In 2014 Frank became the first male bellydancer to perform with, and be a contributing choreographer for Jillina’s theatrical dance company, Bellydance Evolution. He can be seen in Bellydance Evolution Presents: Alice in Wonderland Live at the Ford Theater Hollywood.

Omar Al-T'bal

Meet Omar

Drummer, recording artist and percussion teacher, Omar Al T’bal Mansour, has mastered a wide variety of styles and performed with national touring acts, including Gipsy Moon, Grammy nominated String Quintet, New Mastersounds, Elephant Revival and Fruition, among others.  He has also been the percussionist for many performance-arts groups including MarchFourth, Samba Stilt Circus, and Fractal Tribe.

An active drummer in Denver’s world music community, Omar is working on a fusion collaboration with Colorado University Orchestra’s Gregory Walker and drumming for belly dancers, including Rafi’ah Ruyah’s Mercury Cafe Haflas.

Omar was previously part of Ed Haggard & the Love Drums in Nashville, TN, where he continued to study the rhythms of Africa and learned to build and repair djembes. Prior to joining Haggard, he studied with Master Djembefola Baba Assane Mbaye and Master Percussionist Elec Wayne, honing his Afro-Funk and Latin Jazz percussion skills while playing with bands in Ohio. Having grown up in a Palestinian family in Cleveland, Omar began playing doumbek as a child with teachers from Jerusalem, Jordan, Turkey and Egypt. By the time he was a teenager, he was part of a professional Dabke band.

Omar has played at The Great American Music Hall, The Mint LA, the House of Blues, the Fox, and internationally televised, Music City Roots in Nashville. Seasoned, both on stage and in recording studios, Omar is always open to new projects.

Super Beth (Elizabeth Fish)

Meet Super Beth

“Super Beth” director of Tamarind Tribal Belly Dance in Milwaukee, WI.  She is known for her high energy performance and instruction, her passion for student growth, and innovative group work.   Super Beth has studied with Carolena Nericcio, Rachel Brice, and is Key of Diamonds and Key of Spades certified in Zoe Jakes’ Dancecraft format. 

Super Beth has been featured on several DVDs and has developed Tamarind Tribal Transformations® format.  Super Beth was among the dancers and has steps featured on FatChanceBellyDance® (FCBD®) Volume 9 DVD Anatomy of a Step and featured on ATS® with Props” DVD with Terri Allred of Third Eye Tribal and Dawn Ruckert of Dayanisma.  In addition, she has produced another DVD – Spirit of Seville Fan and Skirt Combinations for ATS® and developed the Tamarind Tribal Transformations® format: their own unique, improv-based repertoire of tribal movements, group formations, and prop work. 

Zoe Jakes

Meet Zoe

A versatile and extremely well-rounded performer, Zoe Jakes has developed an instruction style all her own and is a popular touring instructor, her workshops regularly selling out.

Katarina Burda (an original member of Bal-Anat) is her first teacher and influence, and Zoe was a company member of Katarina’s troop Aywah! along with the talented Mira Betz and Elizabeth Strong. She went on to perform with Suhaila Salimpour, spent a few years learning how to get in peoples faces in Extra Action Marching Band, and immersed in Americana Vaudeville with The Yard Dogs Road Show. A proud Member of The Indigo Belly Dance Company, Zoe holds Mardi Love and Rachel Brice as her teachers and inspiration. Currently Zoe Jakes is touring with her band Beats Antique, a group that has 6 albums and hundreds of live shows under their belt. Zoe designs and makes many of her own costumes and co-produces tracks with Beats Antique, also adding set designer and stylist to her body of work.

Zoe Jakes has the desire and opportunity to bring belly dance to the masses, having performed at Coachella, Lollapalooza and Bonneroo in front of thousands of people that don’t know belly dance from an elephant. It is her passion that Belly Dance can get a wider recognition and respect, and her classes reflect that with a focus on strong technique and long term motivation.

Zoe has classes at her home studio, Coven, in Oakland, travels all over the US to teach and perform, and has many classes on www.DaturaOnline.com.

In 2015 Zoe launched her own tribal fusion belly dance format, DanceCraftTM. The purpose of this accredited dance program is to provide a structure in which dancers can progress towards an achievable goal, and to provide an opportunity to build a dancer’s skills intelligently and clearly. This format applies strong technical training as a framework for artistry and creative expression.

DanceCraft focuses on dance technique, strength and flexibility, musicality, choreography, improvisation, critical thinking, stamina, analysis, teamwork, belly dance history, teaching and creating original work.

More details and registration at www.ZoeJakes.com