Amel Tafsout
Amel Tafsout, meaning 'Hope of Spring', is among the most charismatic and acclaimed International Choreographer, performer and master dance instructor of North African Maghreb Dance of our time. She has mesmerized audiences in the Middle East and North Africa as well as in Europe , the U.S.A and New Zealand with her expressive and stunning stage presence.

With an M.A. degree in sociolinguistics (she speaks fluently 4 languages) , and a research in dance anthropology Tafsout is always aware of the impact that culture has in art and how that can be expressed in the dance. She has been distinguished by the International Dance Council CID as one of the leading dance professionals from around the world.

Brought up in Algeria, Tafsout was fascinated by dance and music since childhood and grew up among the finest traditional dancers and musicians of her native country . She also studied European Folk dance in Algeria, dances of her neighbor Maghreb countries and the Middle East , African Dance in Europe and Afro-Cuban dance in Cuba She is currently using her expertise to lead highly successful master classes in dance, drumming and singing for students from various countries, with different backgrounds, such as professional dancers, actors , music and dance students, women, elderly people, children and disabled children. She has developed a new experience in teaching, which combines Dance, Singing and Drumming. This creativity has enhanced the spontaneous fusion of Dance and Music - Sound and Vision.

Her research focuses on ritual dances of the Maghreb (reflecting the dual Amazigh-Berber-Arabic identity of Algeria), the Middle East,West Africa and Cuba. She looks at the ways in which spirituality is part of a daily life and sees the dance as a search for harmony between Body, Mind and Spirit.

Amel will seem to you like a voyager between countries, cultures and languages (…).her teaching technique focuses on sharing the spiritual energies (…). Each of Amel's movements come from inside and is charged with pure energies. While Amel, the Berber woman, moves closer to the souls of the women, they in turn become more aware of their own strength and are able to recover their spiritual balance through dance. The word 'healing' is not mentioned but what happens here is nothing less than that.' Gizella Hartmann, in 'Orient Magazine', Germany, nr 1, 2002
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In her early twenties Tafsout moved to Germany where she founded the Pan Arabic dance company 'Banat As Sahra' ( Daughters of the Sahara Desert), a company which was instrumental in dismissing Western prejudices about Arab women as well as working to bring Arabic dance culture to the West.

In the late 80s Tafsout moved to London, U.K. where she taught and performed at various dance and music festivals. She also founded her second dance company 'The Tafsoutettes'. With her company she aims to perform the dances of the Maghreb and other Arabic countries with skill and sincerity as well as to educate audiences about North African culture most notably women's traditions and evolutions through dance, story telling but still retaining a sense of wit and sharing the spirit of celebration.

She has been featured in "the Late Show (BBC2), and other TV programs in the UK, Germany and the U.S.A.
Tafsout was an active member of the Latin-Jazz band: Chakchouka , the North African contemporary Orchesta Mambo Duniya, the Arab-Turkish music band Noor Shimaal as well as the Saladin's Orchestra. She performed with Die Dissidenten, 3 Mustapha 3, Hassan Erraji, Maurice El Medioni, Georges lammam Ensemble, Cheb I Sabbah, Rachid Halihal and Karim Nagui as well as the Algerian Andalusian singer Nassima.

Always graceful, she nevertheless reflected the enormous energy and excitement of the strongly percussive music to add an extra dimension to a truly remarkable evening.' P.Rush, 'The Stage', Nov.1997, London, U.K.
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Amel Tafsout accompanied on drums by Salah-Dawson Miller, provided with a thirst contrast in dance styles, the earthy rhythms of the drums and Amel's mesmeric hips and arms made you feel as though you were in a Berber tent.' Afra Al Kahira, 1999, U.K.
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Tafsout has lectured, danced, taught, sung and conducted anthropological research in many countries; in the U.K. and Spain, she has performed at international festivals such as W.O.M.A.D. in Dusseldorf, Germany , at the 'Orientale' for 10 years and she is still invited at this festival every year ; In the U.S.A. in Fort Lauderdale, FL at the "Spirit of the Tribes'; in Portland ,OR at the first 'Tribal Quest North-West, and she has been invited for the same festival in August 2007; in Miami at the 'Orientalia 2004' , and other festivals such as the first 'Arab Dance Festival', in 2006 in Minneapolis, the Arab Dance Seminar that is an ongoing event in various U.S. States. July 2006 she performed at the Cheb I SabbaH show in Central parl, NYC.

2007 She was invited to share her dance and cultural knowledge at the Arab dance Seminar in the U.S., in New York City she performed with the well known respected Algerian Andalusian singer Nassima at Institute of World Music in NYC.
She has worked and performed in New Zealand as well as Mexico.
2008 Amel Tafsout is invited to work in Moscow .

Tafsout also published many articles related to dance and Maghreb women in academic and popular magazines. Her latest article ,"The Passage of Times" has been published at the online Dance magazine called "The Gilded Serpent" in Sept.2007.
She translated songs for the recording company 'World Circuit and did some interpreting work for West African singers such as Jali Mussa Jawara and Ali Farkha Toure (May his soul rest in peace) the Moroccan Gnawa singer Mustapha Bakbou and the Algerian Rai super stars such as Cheikha Rimitti (may her sould rest in peace), Bellemou as well as Khaled.
She contributed to the first 'Rough Guide of Belly Dance music compilation'
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2006 she was invited by the BBC radio 3 to accompany Andy Kershaw to Algeria in order to do a program on Algerian music.

'And yet, when you meet her, Tafsout is also tremendous fun, and infects everyone who she meets with a huge enthusiasm of North African dance .' Mira Katbamna, 2003

'Strong woman, passionate, formidable cultural embassador, internationally acclaimed, spiritual, Medicine woman, patient, gentle, accademic, linguist, powerful ambience surrounding her' - All true. But there is the rest: the humour!' Marian Watson, in Mosaic, Winter 2001/2

'Watching a performance by Amel Tafsout is a cathartic experience. (…) She dances from the very core of herself. sensuality is expressed as power and generosity. She has a direct stare, a presence that can only come from the true knowledge of herself and her art. She is a unique performer and there is no one else who dances like her.' Beatrice Parvin, in Habibi magazine, Vol.18. No 1. 1999, Santa Barbara, U.S.A.

Having worked and lived all over the world, unsurprisingly, migration has been a constant theme in Tafsout's work.

Amel Tafsout is living in the U.S.A, still performing and teaching in the U.S. and worldwide.

Contact: www.ameltafsout.com

Alessandra Belloni
Alessandra Belloni is the Artistic Director, Founder and Lead Performer of "I GIULLARI DI PIAZZA", an Italian Music, Theatre and Dance Ensemble who is Artists-in-Residence at the Cathedral of St.John the Divine in New York City. She is also the designer of a line of signature series Italian tambourines made by Remo, and of special brushes for tambourine with Pro- Mark.. . She is the only woman in the U.S. and in Italy who specializes in traditional Southern Italian folk dances and percussion that she learned from the old people in the fields

A tambourine virtuoso, singer, dancer and actress, Ms.Belloni was born in Rome, Italy and is committed to preserving the strong and rich traditions of her culture. She has performed extensively with master drummer Glen Velez and was invited by Nana Vasconcellos and Gilberto Gil to perform in PERC PAN '98 in Bahia, Brazil. Alessandra was also selected as one of three runners-up (along with Babatunde Olatunji and Mickey Hart) to Arthur Hull in DRUM! magazine's "New Age/Worldbeat Percussionist" category in their 1998 awards. She was featured in Modern Drummer magazine and has written articles for Percussive Notes. She has collaborated with the Raven Drum Foundation, founded by Rick Allen, acclaimed drummer of the rock group Def Leppard and other world famous drummers.

Her CD's "Tarantelle & Canti D'amore" released by Naxos of America on 2003 has been considered the second best percussion CD of the year by DRUM Magazine and has received many favorable reviews from major press. The CD "Tarantata: The Dance of Ancient Spider" (on the Soundstrue label) released in 2000, has received a wide critical acclaim and distribution. It was also nominated one of the best CDs of the year (2002) by Jon Parales from the New York Times and Dan Hackman from the Los Angeles Times, and won the Best World Percussion CD of the Year by DRUM Magazine. Alessandra Belloni created a new World Music Sound with her group, using electronic music combined with acoustic, in her new show TARANTELLA SPIDER DANCE, with electric violin master Joe Deninzon . She has recently founded a Women's percussion ensemble clalled DAUGHTER OS CYBELE . She toures the world her one woman show "Rhythm is the Cure" - also available as a duo with drummer SERGIO BELLOTTI, (BERKLEE COLLEGE OF MUSIC) With her ensemble from New York she tours across the U.S. and abroad, performing and teaching workshops in various Festivals and halls.

She has also been featured on Television with the National Geographic documentary SPIDER SEX with the Tarantella, as well as WORLD BEAT on CNN. featured on the PBS documentary, "LA FESTA" with The Voyage of the Black Madonna. She holds annual healing dance and percussion workshops in Tuscany, Italy and together with writer, philosopher, healer ANGELO TONELLI and also from. She has spent many years also participating in authentic drumming festivals in remote areas of Southern Italy, held as rituals of purification in honor of the Black Madonna.

Alessandra Belloni has studied acting at H.B. Studios, voice with Professor Michael Warren, and mime and Commedia dell'Arte with Dario Fo (winner of the 1997 Nobel Prize for Literature) at New York University. She has worked in both theatre and film in New York - "Next Stop the Greenwich Village" by Paul Mazursky - and in Italy with Anna Magnani in "La Lupa" and Federico Fellini in "Casanova". Ms. Belloni founded "I GIULLARI DI PIAZZA" - a company performing traditional Italian Folk Music and Theatre - with classical guitarist/composer John La Barbera in 1979 and was Artist-in-Residence at New York University for ten years. Fluent in Italian, English, Spanish, French and Portuguese plus Southern Italian dialects, Alessandra Belloni also speaks through her tambourine and drums.

Since then, she has created cross-cultural productions dedicated to Mother Earth, featuring the Thunderbird American Indian Dancers, and African and Latin American artists. She is also For her achievements in music and theatre, she won the following awards: from the ITALIAN ORAL HISTORY INSTITUTE IN Los Angeles, Fall 2005, Award for Italian American Woman of the Year in 1996 and the Community Arts Project Award from Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts as well as the Sons of Liberty "Citation of Honor" award in 2001.
In 1997, she received a special grant from the Carnahan Jackson Humanities Fund for a residency with the Women Studies program at SUNY Fredonia.

Jon Pareles of the New York Times wrote:
"Invocations and work songs, exorcisms and lullabies shared the program of RHTHM IS THE CURE in the Chapel of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.... Driven by tambourine patterns so fast that the drummer's hands became blurs. Ms. Belloni sang in an exultant voice. The songs blazed with an age-old momentum" .

Dan Hackman - Los Angeles Time:
Alessandra Belloni and Tarantata Dance of the Ancient Spider is a revelation, utterly fascinating.."

Drum Magazine:
Italian-born virtuoso Alessandra Belloni is established as a unique phenomenon, not just a percussionist, she is an actress, lecturer, entertainer, a healer, above all archetype….

Ric Mattinly- Modern Drummer:
With her left hande she she uses a variety of techniques to produce a wide range of timbers, incorporating thumb strokes, finger strokes, and slaps.

The Village Voice:
Alessandra Belloni is a force of Nature


Website: www.alessandrabelloni.com

Artemis E. Mourat
Artemis has been dancing, teaching and researching dance history in the United States and abroad for her entire adult life. Artemis is of Greek and Turkish descent. She fuses her love of these cultures with strong academic knowledge and excellent dance technique. She brings her spirited and articulate technique to workshops which include information on the history and cultures that generate the dances she teaches. She believes that we can all use art to build bridges across cultures.

Artemis has contributed to many publications. Extensive travel to 33 countries and intensive research into the idioms of the East, women's issues, psychology, ancient history, oriental dance, Romany (Gypsy) dance and dance ethnology have yielded many manuscripts and articles.

She continues to produce new articles every year. 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 was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society. Her research is used by Egyptian universities, the Middle East Institute in Washington, D.C. and the Library for the Performing Arts in New York. 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. She uses her writing and her dance and history lectures to fight the racism which exists against the Roma. Her humanitarian interests extended to helping the survivors of hurricane Katrina and she received the key to the city of Lafayette for these efforts. She also continues in her efforts to have Middle Eastern dance receive the recognition and respect that every other legitimate dance form enjoys.

Artemis has done field research in ancient dance, Middle Eastern dance and Romany (Gypsy) dance in Turkey, Romania, Czech Republic, Spain, France, England, Morocco, Tunisia, Germany, Slovenia, Italy, Egypt and Greece. She has attended Rromany Festivals in France, Turkey and Romania. She has collected wonderful video footage of Roma people in which they are dancing, celebrating and experiencing everyday life. Artemis continues to collect antique pictures of women and dancers from North Africa and the Middle East and of the Roma throughout the world. Her collection is one of the largest in the United States and some illustrations have been used by the International Encyclopedia of Dance, the Smithsonian Institution, the largest Romany Museum in the world (in the Czech Republic), the Romany archives at the University of Texas collected by Ian Hancock, all the major Middle Eastern Dance publications and in several books.

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."

Artemis teaches regular classes, private lessons, workshops on the dance form commonly referred to as "Belly Dance" which, after 40 years of experience, she can cover from A to Z. She is best known for her specialized workshops on the Turkish Oriental and Turkish Romany dance genres. Artemis is constantly creating new workshops and she is presenting a series of workshops of all new Turkish material.

Website: http://www.serpentine.org/artemis/artemis.htm

Tempest
Tempest is the most recognized name associated with the art of Gothic & Steampunk Bellydance in North America and across the world. She is often referred to as the "Goth Mutha" for her groundbreaking work in dark fusion. She was the co-producer of the largest festival devoted Gothic Bellydance in North America - Gothla US from 2008-2010, and is the founder and primary author of The Gothic Bellydance Resource, which tracks the progress of the movement as it develops worldwide. She is the producer of Waking Persephone - an annual dark dance event, and Tapestry Dance Retreat, which focuses more on the sacred and folkloric aspects of the dance. As of 2012, Tempest has taught over 200 workshops on Fusion Bellydance and Ritual/Sacred Dance across the nation and in Europe, and actively travels each month teaching and performing. She has organized four nationwide dance tours (The Durga Tour in 2006 and 2009, and Movin'Th'Mischief Tour in 2007, and Ocean To Sea in 2012) and is currently involved with touring projects with The Nathaniel Johnstone Band, Jody Ellen, and The Ghosts Project.

Her dance style is uniquely hers: creative, theatrical, full of expression - reaching forward to define the future of the dance, while being firmly rooted in traditional forms of bellydance. She brings her dynamic interpretation of the dance to her workshops with a sense of fun, a strong foundation in traditional technique, and a deep-hearted goal to aid students in developing their own sense of self within the dance. She has two instructional DVDs: "Bellydance Artistry" (2011) and "Bellydance for Beautiful Freaks" (2006), and has been featured on numerous performance DVDs including "Gothic Bellydance: The Darker Side of Fusion", "Gothic Bellydance: Revelations", "Underworld" and "Underbelly." Her remarkable "Museum Quality: Art School for Bellydancers" workshop intensive program has helped dancers greatly expand their own capabilities within the dance and themselves.

A huge fan of working with live music, Tempest regularly performs live with Nathaniel Johnstone (as a duet and with his whole band), The Ghosts Project, as well as Abney Park, Frenchy & The Punk, Ego Likeness and other alternative/gothic/steampunk/world fusion bands.

Related Links:

-Tempest's Nouveau Noir Dance: www.darklydramatic.com
-Tempest's Teapot - A Bellydance Blog: http://darklydramatic.blogspot.com/
-Owlkeyme Arts - www.owlkeyme.com