RUYAH, (Rehearsal Coach, Lead Dancer 2011 - 2013)
Ruyah got her first taste of bellydance when she attended a Cabaret Serpentine show in Halifax and was immediately taken in by the beautiful art form. She began classes with Zahira a week later and hasn’t looked back. Zahira has been her instructor, key inspiration and mentor throughout her bellydance life. She currently studies intensively with Zahira at Dragonfly and has taken workshops with notable instructors such as Jillina, Samantha Emanuel and Hannan Sultan. Other favourite dancers include Daria Mitskevich, Rachel Brice, Zoe Jakes, Orit Maftsir, Saida and Mira Betz to name a few.
Ruyah retired from the Troupe in 2013 to concentrate on her professional dancing career. She is co-owner and managing director of Dragonfly, professional performer & instructor. She is Zahira’s protégé and is also a member of Dragonfly’s steampunk fusion group The Dragonettes, has collaborated with Mirage’s larger projects and is rehearsal coach, guest choreographer and lead dancer with Dragonfly Dance Company. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to perform and share her passion for this dance with her audience. Ruyah specializes in Fan Veil dance and performs as a soloist in the GTA.
ASHLEY, Lead Dancer, 2011 - 2012
Ashley has always had a love for the arts. Her interests in a variety of visual arts and music have expanded her appreciation for an array of dance forms. She always found joy in dance as a child. During her high school years she started training in her school's credited dance program. Here she touched on ballet, jazz, hip hop and contemporary dance.
Only later did she randomly discover the art of bellydance. She was truly amazed by the variety of styles, rhythms, fusions, brain teasers and physical challenges it had to offer. She studied with some extraordinary teachers such as Hannan Sultan, Zahira, Abigail, Maha and attended workshops with Nada and Aziza. She was a former member of the Sultanettes under the artistic direction of Hannan Sultan. Ashley is excited to continue pursuing this art form and see what adventures lie ahead. Ashley left the troupe on maternity leave.
AIMEE, Lead Dancer, 2011 - 2013
Aimée fell in love with bellydancing years ago, when she first began training under Katy of Hannan's Bellydance Studio.
She soon after began training under Zahira, who continues to be Aimée`s biggest influence and inspiration.
Aimée was a member of the former Sultanettes and is especially inspired by the dramatic, vivacious dancers Aziza, Daria Mitskevich, and Didem. She is also a musician, and will soon be back in the studio to complete another EP.
Aimee is also part of The Dragonettes, Dragonfly’s own Steamfusions emsemble, and she became a professional soloist under Dragonfly’s Mentorship program. In 2014 she became a member of Dragonfly Dance Company and one of Dragonfly Agency's soloists.
KALIKA, Lead Dancer, 2011 - 2013
Kalika's love of dance began at the age of 3, flitting and twirling around the living room. She soon discovered this was her true passion, and she has studied all her life, having taken classes in ballet, jazz and hip-hop, and finally discovering the world of bellydance when she began taking classes with Hannan Sultan in 2007. Since then, she has studied with such notable teachers as Anuka, Zahira, Abigail, Emilia, Maha and Nada in Toronto and was a member of the Sultanettes performing dance troupe.
Drawn to the passion and beauty of dance, as her dancing abilities grow, Kalika never forgets her roots: to twirl and dance around her living room. She was a member of Mirage from June 2010 and of Dragonfly Troupe from January 2011, and hopes that everyone finds their passion in life and never lets it go. Always find the time to reconnect with the child inside you and the dreams you once had. She completed Dragonfly's mentorship program and featured as a guest teacher at Dragonfly. She is currently on leave.
MICHELLE MACALEESE, Lead Dancer, 2011 - 2014
Michelle, a playful and passionate emerging dance artist, has been belly dancing since 2003. She was a lead dancer in the Dragonfly Student Troupe from 2011 to 2013 and performed at festivals, theatre shows, and private events across the GTA. A source of joy in Michelle's dance repertoire is the soulful and exuberant Turkish Roman ("Gypsy") dance, which she has performed with Dragonfly, Mirage, the Sisters of Salome, Dancenette at Arabesque Academy, SHINE Cabaret at STUDIO DANZoN, and in the living rooms of most of her friends. She is the organizer of “Living Room Rom”.
Read more about and connect with Michelle HERE.
NICOLE, Lead Dancer, 2011 - 2013
From a young age, Nicole had developed a love for dance. Starting with tap, ballet and gymnastics she grew to find her new passion: the art of bellydance. She began studying oriental belly dance with Zahira in 2008 as well as Nada El Masriya. While beginning her dance journey with beautiful oriental belly dance, Nicole, went on to study folklore with Abigail and wanted to keep exploring. Through her passion and love for all genres of music, she’s expanded her dance repertoire to include Zahira’s own SteamFusions and became a founding member of The Dragonettes Troupe as well as began studying Tribal Fusions with Audra Simmons.
Aspiring to become a professional dancer and teacher and through the guidance, inspiration and support of her mentors at Dragonfly and her Troupe colleagues and friends, Nicole joined Dragonfly’s faculty in 2012 and she was able to share her passion for music and dance with her lovely students for over a year.
AMY, Lead Dancer, 2011 - 2014
Amy began belly dancing in the winter of 2007, as part of a New Year's fitness plan. After her first session, she was determined to commit herself to a lifelong study of this beautiful art form. From 2007 to 2011, she had the privilege to train primarily with established instructors such as Zahira, Abigail and Nada El Marysia.
In January 2011, she was honoured to join the Dragonfly Student Troupe, as a founding member. Under the artistic direction of her teacher Zahira, the student troupe allowed Amy to take her dancing to the next level through performance, while also experimenting with diverse fusion pieces. The sacred movements of this ancient dance, continue to inspire Amy in her journey of self expression and exploration. In mid 2013 she was invited to be part of Mirage Company under the direction of Anuka. She continues to train with Anuka and Zahira and collaborates with Dragonfly Dance Company and Mirage.
RIANNAGH, Lead Dancer, 2011 - 2014
From Jazz and Ballet, through Celtic, to Modern, it wasn't until her first Bellydance class, that Riannagh became firmly rooted in a dance form that truly spoke to her. Riannagh started out at Hannan's Bellydance Studio in 2006 and furthered her bellydance education as a founding member at Dragonfly Bellydance.
Riannagh is moved by the depth of musical expression possible through the art of Bellydance. For her, the most magical moment in a performance is when the audience is no longer able to distinguish whether the dancer is following or is making the music. Riannagh endeavours to harness this magic in her choreographies, at times incorporating veil, cane, and sword. Her performances have been inspired by traditional pieces, as well as by Celtic, indie, and rock music. Riannagh is known to experiment with fusions and to surprise and delight.
The Dragonfly Student Troupe was another stepping stone closer to her dance dreams: to become a well rounded professional bellydancer. To achieve this dream she underwent apprenticeship in Dragonfly’s mentorship program through which she launched her professional bellydance career becoming a Dragonfly instructor for Beginner and Beginner 2 level classes and a Dragonfly soloist. Riannagh is a member of Dragonfly Dance Company and is currently following her dancing dreams by performing and competing in Europe.
SORAYYA, Lead Dancer, 2011 - 2014
Sorayya’s love affair with music began at a very early age, as she has been singing as soon as she could speak. Although she always enjoyed dancing, it wasn’t until she was inspired by her cousin that she enrolled in bellydance classes in early 2007. She quickly excelled at her classes under the tutelage of Zahira and has since learned much about various styles of bellydance. She immediately fell in love when she discovered Steam Fusions at Dragonfly Bellydance Studio. Sorayya performed regularly with the Dragonfly Student Troupe since its inception in January 2011 until 2014 when she was invited to become a lead dancer with Dragonfly Dance Company. Sorayya is also a founding member of Dragonfly’s Steampunk troupe the Dragonettes. She has collaborated with Mirage and with Zahira’s larger projects and she performs solos and duets in several events.
STELLA, Apprentice Dancer, 2011 - 2012
ANNABELLE, Apprentice Dancer, 2011
XINQI, Lead Dancer, 2014 - 2015
Xinqi has loved dance all her life since. In her early youth she was highly involved in the artistic exploration of dance, rhythm and music with school dance teams for 8 years. Since moving to Toronto from Beijing in 2008, it's been a whole new life experience for her. However, her passion of dancing never goes away instead it has encouraged her to study other forms of dance.
Xinqi began studying bellydance in 2013 inspired by mentors Zahira and Anuka. She signed up knowing next to nothing about the bellydance movement involved, or the culture behind it, and quickly fell in love with this timeless and mesmerizing art form.
After a year and half of regular study, Xinqi was honoured to become a part of Dragonfly Student Troupe in 2014, where she could increase her technique, performance experience and bellydance vocabulary.
She enjoys exploring the diversity of dance styles and performance experiences with troupe members. Xinqi is a graceful and passionate dancer, always pursuing the elegant and feminine movements through her performance. Xinqi relocated briefly to San Francisco in late 2015 and is currently on maternity leave.
ASLI, Lead Dancer (2013 - 2016)
Asli has always been impressed with belly dancing, and has spent countless hours imitating her favourite belly dancers in her living room since the age of 7. When she moved from Turkey to Canada to pursue her MSc, she was overjoyed to find that the University of Toronto provides belly dancing classes at Hart House. In 2010, she started under the instruction of Joanne Camilleri. These classes augmented her passion for this art style with confidence, and helped her with her resolution to move her performance from the living room to the stage. By chance, she found out about Dragonfly Belly Dance, and decided to improve her skills under the tutelage of Zahira and Anuka, who remain her mentors. Asli's performance skills have improved by taking every opportunity to dance at Dragonfly Bellydance Studio’s events. The studio has both helped Asli improve her skill as an oriental belly dancer, and added new fusion styles to her training, like Bolero and Steam Punk, which she loves very much.
In 2013, Asli had the honour of being invited to be part of Dragonfly Student Troupe. She hopes that the opportunities this experience brings will help her to become a professional belly dancer in the future. She was invited to become part of Mirage Ensemble in 2016.
KYLAH, Lead Dancer (2013 - 2016)
Kylah often says that she forgets who she is when she isn’t bellydancing. She took to the art form immediately, starting as a child in her aunt Susan’s basement and later training under Astra and Auni Boghassian in Mississauga. After graduating from conservatory theatre school training at the University of Toronto Mississauga and Sheridan College and moving to Toronto, Kylah discovered and knew immediately that she wanted to train with Zahira, one of the fiercest and most beautiful dancers she had ever seen.
Kylah began at Dragonfly Bellydance Studio during fall of 2012, devoted herself to training extensively with Zahira and Anuka, and began to understand the importance of bellydance and her growing passion for it. Becoming a member of the Dragonfly Student Troupe in 2013 the troupe was source of both inspiration and encouragement for Kylah and she looked forward to following in the footsteps of the great dancers she admires. In the summer of 2016 Kylah was invited to Dragonfly's Mentorship program and to become an apprentice with Dragonfly Dance Company.
To paraphrase a quotation by George Balanchine, which she keeps close to her heart, “I don’t dance because I want to. I dance because I have to.”
MERYEM, Lead Dancer (2013 - 2016)
Meryem was first introduced to belly dancing by her father. She fondly remembers sitting in her room one night when he called her over to show her a video of who became her inspiration, Turkish famous bellydancer Didem. A couple of months later with lots of joy and excitement Meryem started dancing at Dragonfly Bellydance where she met her mentors Zahira and Anuka (in her words: “the most beautiful dancers that take my breath away every time... They have taught me absolutely everything I know about belly dancing!”). She started belly dancing in the year of 2012, knowing from the moment she walked onto the dance floor that she was there to stay for a very long time. For Meryem belly dancing isn’t only one more type of dance, but one of the most beautiful arts without which she feels empty. She was honoured to be part of Dragonfly Student Troupe from 2013 to 2016 which had been a dream of hers and one step ahead in achieving her lifetime goal of becoming a professional belly dancer one day. Meryem was invited to be an apprentice with Dragonfly Dance Company and to Dragonfly's Mentorship program in 2016.
With lots of twirling around her living room, practicing for performances, belly dance has changed her life.
ILANA, Lead Dancer 2013 - 2016
Ilana was first introduced to belly dancing by her younger sister, who signed the two of them up for a mother-daughter belly dance class. Although the mother-daughter act lasted for as long as it took to register, the sister act lasted for two years, as they studied and performed together in Ottawa. When Ilana moved to Toronto in 2011, she was thrilled to discover that she lived just down the street from a belly dance studio. Drawn by Dragonfly’s innovative teachers and welcoming environment, she was enrolled before the month was out. After taking lessons with Zahira for two years, Ilana became a member of the student troupe in 2013. She loves how every day at the studio brings something new and how there is always more to learn.
Ilana enjoys exploring traditional belly dance moves and music, but also tests the versatility of the dance, shimmying along to pop songs, movie scores, and electro swing. Ilana is an expressive and energetic dancer who invites her audience to share in her enthusiasm for this beautiful art form. Ilana draws inspiration from the incomparable Zahira and from her phenomenal fellow performers. For Ilana, dancing at Dragonfly nurtures the three H’s: head, heart, and hips!
In 2016 Ilana was invited to Dragonfly Mentorship program to become a professional bellydancer and instructor.
MARJANA, Lead Dancer 2015 - 2016
"I have loved dance all my life and was taking ballet and ballroom dance classes since I was a child. After traveling to Egypt and Syria, I fell in love with Middle Eastern culture - history, language, traditions and dance as part of it. I took my first belly dance classes with Viktoriya Gubka during my university years back in Ukraine. After moving to Toronto, the first thing I looked for was a belly dance studio and I'm very glad to have found Dragonfly studio and amazing Zahira and Anuka as my teachers.
The best thing I find about any form of dance is that it makes you feel beautiful, empowered and free, and allows to escape the rest of the world for those hours spent at the studio."
Marjana became a member of Dragonfly Student Troupe in the summer of 2015. She is currently on leave.
CANSU/JANSU, Apprentice Dancer (2015)
Dance has always been part of Cansu's life. Starting from a very young age, she was trained in classical ballet, Turkish folk dancing and Salsa. Cansu was introduced to the magical world of belly dancing in 2010 when a friend dragged her to a free trial class. To Cansu, that was the beginning og a new life- she instantly fell in love with this marvelous art form. Shortly after that trial class, Cansu began her belly-dancing journey with Yasmina Ramzy and Melissa Gamal.
In 2012, during Dragonfly Open House, Cansu had the opportunity to watch Anuka perform. Amazed by Anuka's undulations, Cansu signed up for classes at Dragonfly. Since 2012, both Zahira and Anuka have played a major role in Cansu's development as an aspiring dancer. Cansu values the welcoming and fun environment that is provided in Dragonfly studios. She thinks of bellydancing as a very empowering art form and she recommends it to everyone. After becoming an apprentice with Dragonfly Student Troupe, Cansu was invited to Arabesque Dance Company. She has since relocated to her native Turkey.
KALINDI, Apprentice Dancer, 2017
Kalindi was always impressed by the grace and femininity of belly dance. She took her first bellydance class in 2010 in her native Greece. Soon after she became a member of Nawar Raqs bellydance troupe. She counts the renowned Maria Lionaki as one of her teachers and mentors. In 2014, Kalindi started discovering the paths of Tribal Fusion. It was then when she joined Merkabah Troupe directed by Jasmin Kalathaki. Throughout these years she participated in many popular festivals, shows and performances. Her extensive training includes various seminars with local and international teachers including Lamia Barbara, Violet Scrap, Karan Pangali, Ela Rogers, George Jacob, Soraya Shoheib, Swati Wangnoo Tiwari, among others, always aiming to grow as a dancer.
She took a break for a year when she move to Toronto. However, Bellydance gives her life so she began taking classes again at Dragonfly Dance Studio in late 2016 and was invited to join Dragonfly Student Troupe in 2017. Kalindi can’t wait to discover a new path of bellydancing in Toronto! She is currently on leave
HANNAH, Apprentice Dancer, 2017
Hannah began belly dancing with Lalita in 2007 where she was drawn to the positivity and joyfulness of the dance form. After only a few months she started performing in the Ottawa area at local fundraisers and dance showcases, including Halyma's Ottawa Centre Class Party.
After taking a short leave from dance, Hannah began taking classes at the Dragonfly Dance Studio in January 2015 and proudly joined the Student Troupe in 2017. She looks forward to learning new styles and working with her fellow dancers on beautiful choreographies. She is currently on leave.