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About Amara
Amara belly dance

Amara, PhD, is one of the most versatile and diverse Middle Eastern dancers in the United States. She is well known for her entertaining and dynamic American belly dance style that is interspersed with sword, veil, double veil, and zil work. She is equally skilled in many Middle Eastern folk dances. Amara is also a leading innovator in theatrical and experimental Middle Eastern dance.

Amara has performed as a soloist and in Middle Eastern Dance companies all over the United States. She has held long-term dance engagements at several Middle Eastern restaurants and nightclubs including Pars (LA), Elbasha (LA), Mamounia (LV), and Alborz (Austin). She has also been highlighted in over 15 commercial videos including IAMED, BDTV, and the EEMED series.

Amara is also known for her innovative teaching methods. In her studio classes, she stresses strong foundational technique while she also helps students explore the workings of Middle Eastern dance in thier own personal ways. She has taught accredited courses on dance appreciation and Middle Eastern dance at UCLA, UCR, and Cal Poly, Pomona and workshops at a number of universities and colleges.

In addition to teaching, Amara is the Director and Choreographer of Ya Helewa!, a Middle Eastern dance company which performs a diverse repertory of traditional and experimental improvisations and choreographies. Ya Helewa! has held a long-term dance engagements at Moun of Tunis (LA) and Pars (LA) and and are featured on several commercial videos. Ya Helewa!'s appearances also include numerous concerts in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Francisco, San Diego, and Austin.

Amara Belly Dance

Amara also produces numerous events. Her main focus is "An Evening of Experimental Middle Eastern Dance" concerts and videos. She has also hosted a monthly showcase and has co-founded "Dance Under Construction," a UC system wide dance conference. Other projects include X-MED, a workshop series presenting tools and methods for creating experimental Middle Eastern dances and “How to Teach Middle Eastern Dance,” a seminar series designed for new and seasoned teachers to learn and practice new pedagogical styles.

In addition to teaching and performing, Amara is also deeply involved with studying and researching Middle Eastern dance. Her interest began while getting her degree in Music History and Literature and a certificate in Ethnomusicology from The Florida State University. Amara's pursuit deepened when at UCLA she worked towards an M.A. in Dance Ethnology and an MFA in Dance. Amara has a PhD in Dance History and Theory from UC Riverside PhD. Her dissertation is titled: "Dancing on the Fringe. Connections Forming An Evening of Experimental Middle Eastern Dance." She has published articles in numerous dance magazines and has presented papers at leading dance conferences including, Congress on Research and Dance (CORD) and Society for Dance History Scholars (SDHS).

RESUME

Education
2011
PhD, Dance History and Theory
University of California Riverside
1995

BA, Music History and Literature
Certificate in World Music, Cum Laude
Thesis: Nalini Vinayak: Sitarist, Teacher, and Woman Connecting Three Cultures

The Florida State University
1997-2001
Masters' Coursework, Dance Ethnology
University of California Los Angeles
1991-1992
Undergraduate Courses, Music Education
Ithaca College, pursued a B.A.
Teaching
2006 - 2008 Instructor, Institute of Dance - California Polytechnic, Pomona
Belly Dance. Taught an introduction to Middle Eastern dance for both dance and non-dance minors. Studio coursework stress strong foundational technique through combinations of choreography, improvisation, solo, and group work.

World Dance. Taught an Introduction to World Dance. General instructional responsibilities including lecture, assessment, grading, and maintaining office hours to discuss student progress. Course required students to actively engage not only with watching dance but also developing tools for observing, describing, analyzing, and discussing dance movement and its social contexts. The course covers a variety of dance styles, choreographers, and dancers from around the world. Students explore examples of how notions of gender, race, and class in different times and locations are played out through and in dance. Written and discussion assignments based on the required readings, videos, live performances, lecture materials, in-class discussions, and movement experiences.


2004 - 2005 Golden Oak Adult School - Valencia
Designed and taught an introduction to Middle Eastern dance for non-dancers in a non-credit, community education setting. Dealt with non-traditional students from diverse community.
2002 - 2003 Graduate Teaching Assistant, Department of Dance - University of California Riverside

World Dance and Cultures. Taught an introduction to Dance class. General instructional responsibilities including lecture, assessment, grading, and maintaining office hours to discuss student progress. Course required students to engage actively with not only watching dance but also developing tools for observing, describing, analyzing, discussing dance movement and its social contexts, and moving. The course covers a variety of dance styles, choreographers, and dancers from around the world. Students explore examples of how notions of gender, race, and class in different times and locations are played out through and in dance. Written and discussion assignments based on the required readings, videos, live performances, lecture materials, in-class discussions, study guides, and movement.

Also responsible for studio classes: Belly Dance. Taught an introduction to Middle Eastern dance for both dance minors and non-dancers. Studio coursework stresses strong foundational technique through combinations of choreography, improvisation, solo, and group work. Lecture and discussion on the history of Middle Eastern dance, the differences between genres, and the issues facing dancers today.


1999 - 2000 Graduate Teaching Assistant, Department of World Arts and Cultures - University of California Los Angeles
Similar to courses taught at UCR: Dance of a Selected Culture: Middle East. Designed and taught an introduction to Middle Eastern dance for both dance and non-dance majors. Studio coursework stress strong foundational technique through combinations of choreography, improvisation, solo, and group work.
2000 Instructor, Learning Tree University - Thousand Oaks, CA
Designed and taught an introduction to Middle Eastern dance for non-dancers in a non-credit, community education setting. Dealt with non-traditional students from diverse community.
Dance Studio Teaching
Provided private dance instruction in a wide range of cultural, ethnic and modern dance styles. Own, operate and manage studio in Los Angeles, teaching beginning, intermediate, and master dance classes.
2010 - present Galaxy Dance Studio, Austin, TX
2010 Gemini Playhouse, Austin, TX
2010 Go Dance Studio, Austin, TX
1998 - present Amara's Dance Studio, Los Angeles, CA; Austin, TX
2003 Lorentz Dance Studio, Lake View Terrace, CA
1999 - 2003 Judy Gantz Siegel's Dance Studio, Los Angeles, CA
1998 Mason Artists Institute, Los Angeles, CA
1997-1998 UCLA Recreational Middle Eastern dance class.
Performance History
1993 - present: Regularly perform as solo artist in Austin, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Atlanta, and Tallahassee and has held long term engagements at several top Arab nightclubs and restaurants in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Performances have included work with community-based cultural groups, professional groups, and artists, as well as benefit performances for civic groups and schools. Both solo and group work has been performed for commercial and instructional videos. Highlights include: Austin Live; Austin Belly Dance Convention; Luxor Hotel and Casino, IAMED’s Let’s Dance, Belly Dance 007, Belly Dance Revolution, Belly Dance Sensations, and Belly Dance; Desert Sin’s Sita’s Fire; Ford Amphitheater; Café Beledy; An Evening of Experimental Middle Eastern Dance; Moun of Tunis All Star Belly Dance Fun-Raiser; UCLA; and Rakkasah.
2010

Austin, TX: Austin Live!; Austin Belly Dance Convention; Alborz; Opa; Sahara Nights; Raks Helwa; Galaxy Showcase; Rakasa Revue A to Z Belly Dance!; Full Moon Dance Extravaganza; Desert Passion show at Lovey's Loot; Private Events

Buda, TX: Desert Passion show

Los Angeles, CA: Cabaret Beledy; Darban; Moun of Tunis; Private Events


2009

Los Angeles, CA: Cabaret Beledy; Darban; Moun of Tunis; Private Events

San Diego, CA: Once upon a Belly Dance


2008

Los Angeles, CA: Café Beledy; TLF Production’s Belly Dance Showcase; EEMED; Private Events

San Diego, CA: Tribal Dance/Fusion Dance


2007

Los Angeles, CA: IAMED's This is Belly Dance 007; Joi de Musique; TaXim; Dance in the Desert, Café Beledy; Mythos Greek Restaurant; X-MED; Cairo Carnivale; Private Events

Las Vegas, NV: Hafla, Belly Dance Intensive

Freiburg, Germany: Wedding


2006

Los Angeles, CA: Café Beledy; Mythos Greek Restaurant; Desert Sin's Sita's Fire; Moun of Tunis Restaurant; X-MED; An Evening of Experimental Middle Eastern Dance; IAMED's Belly Dance-O-Rama (with Desert Sin); Perfumes of Araby's Middle Eastern Dance Swap Meet; Labyrinth of Jareth Masquerade; Private Events

San Diego, CA: Hafla San Diego

San Francisco, CA: Rakkasah Middle Eastern Dance Festival - Performed with Mirage, Music Group

Chicago, IL: Performed Mermaids with Desert Sin


2005

Los Angeles, CA: Elbasha Greek Restaurant (Performed 2 nights a week); IAMED's Let's Dance, Shandeez Restaurant; Cafe Beledy; An Evening of Experimental Middle Eastern Dance; Mantra Girl's CD release party; Marrakesh Restaurant; Perfumes of Araby's Middle Eastern Dance Swap Meet; Private Events

San Francisco, CA: Rakkasah Middle Eastern Dance Festival - performed to live music by Mirage


2004

Los Angeles, CA: Elbasha Greek Restaurant (Performed 2 nights a week); Cafe Beledy; Shandeez Restaurant; Perfumes of Araby's Middle Eastern Dance Swap Meet; Private Events

San Francisco, CA: Rakkasah Middle Eastern Dance Festival - Performed with Solace, Music Group


2003

Los Angeles, CA: Elbasha Greek Restaurant (Performed 2 nights a week); An Evening of Experimental Middle Eastern Dance; IAMED's This is Belly Dance; Shandeez Restaurant; Cafe Beledy; Central Coast Mediterranean Dance Festival; Moun of Tunis All Star Belly Dance Fun-Raiser; Perfumes of Araby's Middle Eastern Dance Swap Meet; Private Events

San Francisco, CA: Rakkasah Middle Eastern Dance Festival - Performed with Mirage, Music Group

2002 Los Angeles, CA: Elbasha Greek Restaurant (Performed 2 nights a week); Shandeez; Sea Side Palace; Our Place Restaurant; Al Karraz Restaurant; Cafe Beledy; Cairo Carnival; Central Coast MECDA's 12th Night Belly Dance Festival; An Evening of Experimental Middle Eastern Dance; Perfumes of Araby's Middle Eastern Dance Swap Meet; Private Events
2001 Los Angeles, CA: Elbasha Greek Restaurant (Performed 2 nights a week); Pars Nightclub (Performed 2 nights a week as a soloist and with Ya Helewa!) Cafe Beledy; An Evening of Experimental Middle Eastern Dance; Equinox Celebration; Perfumes of Araby's Middle Eastern Dance Swap Meet; Private Events
2000

Los Angeles, CA: An Evening of Experimental Middle Eastern Dance; Sea Side Palace Restaurant; Belly Dance Buffet; Regardless, an M.A. dance concert, UCLA; Cafe Beledy; Moun of Tunis Restaurant; Private Events

San Francisco, CA: Rakkasah Middle Eastern Dance Festival


1999 Los Angeles, CA: Athena's; It's Greek To Me; Cairo Carnival; Serendipity on the Sidewalk; Women's International Symposium, UCLA; Cafe Beledy; Best of Friday Nights Live, UCLA; Private Events
1998 Los Angeles, CA: Cafe Beledy; Music and Dance on the Grass, UCLA; Dance Motion and Madness, UCLA; Private Events
1997

Los Angeles, CA: Marrakesh Restaurant; Luna Park; Private Events

Las Vegas, NV: Mamounia Moroccan Restaurant Performed 1-4 shows, 6-7 nights a week; Luxor Hotel and Casino - Portrayed an Amon Temple Dancer for the Nile Tour; Caesar Hotel and Casino; Clubs; Private Events

Atlanta, GA: Private Events


1995 - 1996 Las Vegas: Mamounia Moroccan Restaurant; Tom and Jerry's; Marrakesh Moroccan Restaurant; clubs and parties
1994 - 1995 Tallahassee , FL: Haflas and Galas
Dance Companies
2000 - present Ya Helewa!, Los Angeles; Austin (Director/Choreographer)
2004 - 2007 Desert Sin, Los Angeles
1998 - 2008 Perfumes of Araby, Los Angeles
2000 - 2001 Jillina and the Sahlala Dancers, Los Angeles
1997 - 1998 Viviane's Dance Theater, Los Angeles
1995 - 1996 The Magic Carpet Dancers, Las Vegas
1993 - 1995 Troupe Arabesque, Tallahassee, FL
1992 - 1993 Sally Rubenstein's Dance Company, Tallahassee, FL
Commercial Videos
2007

IAMED's Belly Dance 007

IAMED's Belly Dance-O-Rama (with Desert Sin)

2006 IAMED's "Ultimate Belly Dance Combinations" Vol. 1 and 2
2005 IAMED's "The Art of Belly Dance - Enchanted Nile"
2004

"Belly Dance Television" Vol. 1

IAMED's "Belly Dance Revolution"

2003 IAMED's "Belly Dance!" (performed at the Ford Amphitheater)
2001 - present "An Evening of Experimental Middle Eastern Dance" (EEMED)
Choreography
1994 - present: Choreographed wide range of ethno-cultural dance works, from traditional to experimental, performed by professional and academic troupes. Many of the choreographies are avant-garde presentations of new styles or approaches to Middle Eastern Dance. Venues have included UCLA, UCR, California Polytechnic, Pomona, The International Academy of Middle Eastern Dance (IAMED), An Evening of Experimental Middle Eastern Dance (EEMED), Café Beledy, Las Vegas Bellydance Intensive, and other professional settings. Choreographed or improvised all solo and troupe’s performances.
2008

Minara performed at Tribal Dance/Fusion Dance and EEMED; Twilight performed at EEMED; Warm Fuzzies performed at EEMED


2007 Finding Echo perfofmed at Dance in the Desert, X-MED, and EEMED; Structured Improvisation #2 performed at EEMED and Tribal Dance/Fusion Dance; Mishaal and Double Veil performed at IAMED's This is Belly Dance 007; Layla Hob performed at Vegas Bellydance Intensive
2006 Thirsty performed at An Evening of Experimental Middle Eastern Dance, Instant Review performed at An Evening of Experimental Middle Eastern Dance; Vampira performed at Halloween Hex; Untitled 2 performed at Moun of Tunis and Perfumes of Araby Swapmeet, On the Wrong Side of Nowhere performed at X-MED and An Evening of Experimental Middle Eastern Dance, Veil 2 and Sita performed at Desert Sin's Sita's Fire; Class work performed at Cal Poly, Pomona
2005 Plan 9 Take 2 performed at Dance Macabre, Folk Dance and Raks al-Assaya # 4 performed at IAMED's Let's Dance; Unknown, Becoming, Eden, Loie Fuller performed at An Evening of Experimental Middle Eastern Dance; Full Dance Routine performed at Café Beledy
2004 Snake, performed at Desert Sin's Musée des Femmes - Tales of the Grotesque & Arabesque; Part 1 and Sword 2, performed at IAMED's Belly Dance Rocks!; Part 1 and 2, Transference performed at An Evening of Experimental Middle Eastern Dance
2003 Raks al-Assaya, Quadruple Veils performed at IAMED's This is Belly Dance; The Story of Laurel, Plan Nine performed at An Evening of Experimental Middle Eastern Dance
2002 Even performed at An Evening of Experimental Middle Eastern Dance; Reverse, performed at Cairo Carnivale and An Evening of Experimental Middle Eastern Dance; Hole and the Willow performed at Cafe Beledy, An Evening of Experimental Middle Eastern Dance, and One Enchanted Evening; The Ecstasy of Dance performed at Cafe Beledy
2001 Ditma, The Harem, performed at An Evening of Experimental Middle Eastern Dance
2000 The Lighthouse of Alexandria; The Jelly; Volatile Bodies; Instant Review; Untitled #1, performed at An Evening of Experimental Middle Eastern Dance
1999 Instant Review performed at Cafe Beledy; Class work performed at Pau Hana, UCLA
1994 - present Choreograph or improvise all solo and troupe performances (See Middle Eastern Dance - Solo and Director)
Director of Ya Helewa! Dance Company
2000 - present: Served as troupe director of Ya Helewa!, a Middle Eastern dance company which performs a diverse repertory of traditional and experimental improvisations and choreographies in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, and Las Vegas. Venues have included IAMED’s Belly Dance Rocks!, the Knitting Factory, Mantra Girl’s CD release party, Desert Sin’s Sita’s Fire and Musée desFemmes, Las Vegas’ Belly Dance Intensive, and Rakkasah. Also served as company director for troupes performing in various professional and academic venues, including UCLA and California Polytechnic, Pomona.
2009

Los Angeles, CA: Cairo Caravan; Moun of Tunis; Perfumes of Araby Swapmeet

San Diego, CA: Once upon a Belly Dance


2008

Los Angeles, CA: MECDA Carnival; Perfumes of Araby Swapmeet; Private Events

San Diego, CA: Tribal Dance/Fusion Dance


2007

Los Angeles, CA: TaXim; Café Beledy; X-MED; EEMED; Private Events

San Francisco, CA: Rakkasah Las Vegas , NV: Belly Dance Intensive


2006

Los Angeles, CA: Desert Sin’s Sita’s Fire; X-MED; Moun of Tunis Restaurant; Cairo Carnivale; An Evening of Experimental Middle Eastern Dance; Private Events

San Francisco, CA: Rakkasah


2005 Los Angeles, CA: Mantra Girl’s CD release party; Desert Sin’s Musée des Femmes – Tales of the Grotesque & Arabesque; An Evening of Experimental Middle Eastern Dance; Cafe Beledy; Dance Macabre; Private Events
2004

Los Angeles, CA: Desert Sin’s Musée des Femmes – Tales of the Grotesque & Arabesque; IAMED’s Belly Dance Rocks!; Cafe Beledy; An Evening of Experimental Middle Eastern Dance; Private Events

San Diego, CA: An Evening of Music & Dance


2003 Los Angeles, CA: An Evening of Experimental Middle Eastern Dance; Labyrinth of Jareth Masquerade; Cafe Beledy; Cairo Carnival; Saw Dust Festival
2002

Los Angeles, CA: Cafe Beledy; Market at the Kasbah; An Evening of Experimental Middle Eastern Dance

San Diego, CA: One Enchanted Evening


2001

Los Angeles, CA: Pars Restaurant; Cafe Beledy; Tapestry of America; Central Coast Middle Eastern Dance Festival; An Evening of Experimental Middle Eastern Dance

San Diego, CA: One Enchanted Evening


2000

Los Angeles, CA: An Evening of Experimental Middle Eastern Dance; Saw Dust Festival; Knitting Factory; Cairo Carnival; Market at the Kasbah; Moun of Tunis Marrakesh Restaurant; Cafe Beledy; Belly Dance Buffet; Perfumes of Araby’s Middle Eastern Dance Swap Meet

San Diego, CA: Bedouin Bazaar


Video Productions
2001 - present Evening of Experimental Middle Eastern Dance

Live Productions

2000-present: Lunched several long-running events, such as dance concerts, workshops, and conferences, from conception to completion. Duties included administration, marketing, publicity, budgeting, and talent management. Fostered and developed artistic endeavors and careers through multimedia and various venues.
2000 - Present Evening of Experimental Middle Eastern Dance - An innovative concert in which artist push the boundaries of movement, costume, make-up, music, lighting, and genre in a theatrical setting. Creator, Producer, Artistic Director, Performer
2006 - 2007 X-MED - An intensive three day workshop on Experimental Middle Eastern Dance. The first of its kind, this workshop is creating a pedagogy and a training ground for an emerging dance form. Co-Creator, Co-Producer, Coordinator, Teacher, Performer
2006 How to Teach Middle Eastern Dance -A seminar series designed for new and seasoned teachers. Covering kinesiological effectiveness of warm up, cold downs, stretches, and injury prevention; leaning style theory, structuring creative movement exploration; and how to construct a class and class series. Also helped teachers define their personal philosophy of dance education and pedagogical style though reading, writing, presentations, feedback, and evaluations.
2001 Amara's Showcase - A monthly performance at Pars Restaurant which allowed dancers of all levels to perform in a nightclub venue. Creator, Producer, Performer
2000 Belly Dance Buffet - This day of performances and workshops was created to give the Middle Eastern dance community alternative ways to approach the dance form. Co-creator; Co-producer, Performer, Teacher
Guest Lectures and Presentations
Master classes presented in several academic and community settings. Lectures focus on the position of dance within the broader culture, particularly with multicultural communities. Introductory Studio presentations have three primary purposes: Helping students to experience basic technique and styling; facilitating insight into the culture and challenging preconceived ideas of the dance form; Creation of a community feeling through dancing for and watching others. Specific workshops cover a variety of topics including technique, choreography, various Middle Eastern dance styles, dance construction, and pedagogy.
2010

UCLA: Introduction to Belly Dance, Guest Teacher

Oxnard City College: Egyptian Folk Dance

Introduction to Sword Workshop – Austin

Introduction to Zils and Arab Rhythms


2009

Veil Choreography – Berlin, Germany

Story Telling Through Dance, Workshop Teacher – San Deigo

Egyptian Folk Dance – Oxnard City College

Introduction to Sword Workshop – Los Angeles

Introduction to Veil Workshop – Los Angeles

Floorwork Workshop – Los Angeles

The Art of Taqsim – Los Angeles

Introduction to Raqs al-Assaya – Los Angeles

Ah Ya Zein Choreography – Los Angeles

Raqs al-Assaya Choreography– Los Angeles


2008 Tribal Dance/Fusion Dance: Fusion Techniques and Dynamic Combinations for Any Kind of Music, Workshop Teacher and Performer – San Diego
2007 Belly Dance Intensive: Creating and Destroying the Rules, Workshop Teacher and Performers - Las Vegas

Hips of Fury Competition: Fusion Techniques, Workshop Teacher, Performer, and Judge - PalmdaleX-MED: Workshop Teacher, Performer, and Co-Producer - Los Angeles

Dance in the Desert: Fusion Techniques, Workshop Teacher and Performer - Palmdale

2006 Hips of Fury Belly Dance Competition, Judge - Palmdale

X-MED, Workshop Teacher, Performer, and Co-Producer - Los Angeles;

How to Teach Middle Eastern Dance, Teacher - Los Angeles

2004

UCR: Introduction to Middle Eastern Dance, Guest Teacher

Scripps College: Introduction to Middle Eastern Dance, Guest Lecturer

World Dance Festival, Workshop Teacher - San Diego


2003 Antelope City College, Guest Teacher
2000 Belly Dance Buffet, Van Nuys, Workshop Teacher
1999 - 2000 UCLA WAC: Dancing of Selected Cultures, Guest Teacher
1999 - 2000 Scripps College, Guest Teacher
1999 University of California, Long Beach, Guest Teacher
1998 "Trade Like Any other" and "The Positions of Middle Eastern Dance in the United States," UCLA WAC: Dance Ethnography, Guest Lecturer
1998 Mason Artists Institute, Middle Eastern Dance, Guest Teacher
1996 Halimdia's Studio, Tallahassee, FL, Guest Teacher

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Please note: this is a partial resume. If you would like a full resume, please contact Amara by e-mail or call (512) 694-3679.

 

Photography by Herb Kissling