2020 Teachers

Abigail Keyes

Meet Abigail

Abigail Keyes is a lifelong performer with a passion for education, cultural awareness, and the movement arts of the Middle East. She has taught and performed on five continents and is also an award-winning writer in the fields of dance, women’s studies, and pop culture.

She holds a BA in Near Eastern Studies from Princeton University and an MA in Dance Studies from Mills College where she is currently an Adjunct Professor of Dance History. She directs the Salimpour School Berkeley and its performance ensemble, the Berkeley Salimpour Collective; she is also Assistant Director of Bal Anat. Abby is only one of 5 dancers in the world to have earned the prestigious Level 5 certification in both the Suhaila and Jamila Salimpour Formats.

She brings diverse knowledge, awareness, and enthusiasm to all of her classes and workshops, and delights in bringing the joy of movement to everyone who studies with her. She’s a huge nerd for all things dance, including anatomy, history, culture, and music. Visit her website at akeyesdance.com/blog

Amy Sigil

Meet Amy

Hello! My name is Amy Sigil and I am a dance teacher, creator and performer living in Sacramento California.

My introduction to movement training was found around the neck of a quarter horse as a young girl.  I fell in love with a horse named Biscuit. We were both very young, her 7 months old and myself 7 years old. It was the first time I cared about how strong my legs were, my arms–and my will. Biscuit and I were left alone on 40 acres to develop our relationship. She spent years trying to kill me. She ran me under low tree branches, scraped my legs against barbed wire fences, kicked me, bit me and tried to drown me in the pond numerous times. Here’s what I learned; lay to the side of the saddle with your head lower than her back when approaching a low branch, throw both legs opposite the fence side, stay close to her body so she can only push you and not extend her leg for a full force kick, bite her back, and learn to swim as fast as a quarter horse.

Who knows if it was Biscuit that built my love of working with large mammals and complex challenges, but it has resonated with me throughout my entire life. I am passionate about group work, inclusivity and fitness. I am moved by music and work ethic, by Art and expression. Dance is all of these things for me. It is a way to further my relationship with my body and share these findings with others.

What is beautiful about dance is that it is “me.” It is “you.”  It is “us.” What a beautiful thing to express yourself with yourself. Is there anything more authentic? My life’s work is to share movement and research that highlights frameworks and tools for group improvisation, movement sourcing and choreography techniques.

I have been studying transnational dance for 20 years, as well as hula and straight-up imagination in movement! I have a background in basketball, volleyball, track and motorcycles. Since the beginning of my studies I have enjoyed touring with many varied dance artists, and opened a dance studio in Sacramento to serve the community in movement exploration. I am grateful to have had the opportunities to teach dance in over 20 countries. I am the director of UNMATA, which is an internationally touring dance group, as well as the creator of Improvisational Tribal Style which has over 70 certified teachers in the format around the world.

For the last 15 years I have been creating and building an improvisational staging format in the Sigil technique.

I take a full-hearted approach to movement and prioritize connection between movers. I would be enthusiastic to share my knowledge and love with you! Please feel free to check out my websites:

Billy Woods

Meet Billy

Billy Woods is well known nationally as a drum instructor and performer, and travels extensively spreading peace through his music and his personal interactions. While his drum teachings, his recordings, and his soulful heart have won him friends and fans across the lands, Billy is also a Qi-Gung practitioner, teaching and leading Qi-Gung classes across the US. As Wandering Abbot of Spirit Gate temple (Shen-men Gaun) Billy is on tour this summer spreading the word that “the time of greed is over”, and that our children will need clean air, clean water and clean food to leave a world where peace is possible. We are a product of seven generations of our past and responsible for seven generations of our future.

Colette Todorov

Meet Colette

Colette has been belly dancing for over 20 years.  She began studying with Carolena Nericcio of FatChanceBellyDance® (FCBD®) in San Francisco in 1997.  She embraced the group improvisational aspect of American Tribal Style® (ATS®) and was invited to join the professional troupe in early 2001 and was an instructor at the FCBD studio from 2002 to 2007.

In 2008, Colette founded Scarlet Thistle Studio in Hood River, Oregon.  In addition to teaching weekly classes and directing a performance troupe, Colette taught and performed at workshops and festivals throughout the Pacific Northwest and Canada.  In 2011, Colette became the resident ATS instructor at Datura, Rachel Brice’s studio in Portland, as well as offering online dance instruction as a DaturaOnline.com instructor. Colette brings over 15 years of belly dance teaching experience to domestic and international workshops and festivals, offering instruction to dancers from over a dozen different countries.

Inspired to explore movements that reflected her own style, Colette created innovative variations, including dynamic formations and transitions, suitable for group improvisation.  She has completed all four phases of Rachel Brice’s 8 Elements™ and continues to study many styles of dance and movement. Her goal is to guide students in their dance and movement journey, and assist them in finding space for movement and creativity in their life.

Carmine Guida

Meet Carmine

Carmine is an accomplished instructor, teaching doumbek both nationally and internationally. His students compliment his lively and engaging teaching style and his ability to make complex technique and intricate rhythms easy to learn. Located in New York City, Carmine is a member of several music ensembles including Middle Eastern fusion group “Djinn.” Carmine’s music has been featured on several CDs and DVDs as well as prime time T.V. shows.

For more information:www.carmine.comTransformations® 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.

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.

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 (RYT200, PhysiYoga100, SUPYTT), meditation and spirituality, together with her interest in the precise mechanics of the muscles used in belly dance, ignited her “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.

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.

Sadie Marquardt

Meet Sadie

Sadie is an inspiration and icon to her students and fans around the world, and serves to empower people through the captivating art of Oriental Dance (Bellydance). She has produced dozens of bestselling instructional videos, has dozens of viral YouTube videos and has represented the art of Oriental Dance in front of millions of viewers on the hit show “America’s Got Talent”.

Sadie is the founder and director of Raqs Online as well as “Raqs Flow”, a training program that enriches students with a strong foundation in technique while keeping them engaged and connected to the dance’s culture and historical roots. Sadie also produces a variety of destination dance retreats around the world, taking her students on a deep journey and exploration of movement, as well as their own inner-selves.

Sadie is also the founder of Raqs Online, an online studio to learn Raqs Sharqi, world dance and fitness!

When sadie is not busy traveling the globe she can be found teaching her award-winning bellydance classes and workshops as well as performing locally in Colorado.

For more info about Sadie, or to contact her, please visit: www.sadiebellydancer.com

Sera Solstice

Meet Sera

Dancer/choreographer, and electronic music producer based in Brooklyn, New York.  Sera was a full-time Sculptor upon discovery of Bellydance in 1999, and has transferred from her mediums of metal and clay into movement, space, and music.  Sera performed in dance companies: Bellyqueen (Kaeshi Chai), The Silk Road Dance Company (Laurel Victoria Gray), and Raqs Sahara (Rachel Kay Brookmire). Sera’s foundation of technique, form, and discipline was by means of apprenticeship with Rachel Kay Brookmire (of DC’s Sahara Dance, of which Sera was a founding instructor).  Sera has spent the last 20 years in full dedication to dance.  She has owned a dance studio in Times Square, directed numerous shows, projects and dance companies and has been invited to teach workshops and perform throughout Europe, the UK, South America and North America.  In the last 5 years, Sera’s focus has shifted into the healing and experiential aspects of dance and music-production.