ZAHIRA, Artistic Director, Choreographer, Instructor
An accomplished dancer and beloved instructor Zahira is best known for her charisma, powerful stage presence and engaging performances. She is the Artistic Director and choreographer of Dragonfly Dance Company, Dragonfly Student Troupe and Steampunk Bellydance Ensemble the Dragonettes.
Possessing exceptional technique, musicality, captivating expression, intense creativity and exhilarating artistry, Zahira has a strong background in drama, music and movement. She became a protégé of Hannan Sultan and Roula Said in her formative years and since falling in love with bellydance in 2002, she has developed an impressive C.V. of dance training with some of the world’s best teachers. Notable influences include: Aziza, Oscar Flores, Saida and Amir Thaleb of Argentina, Rachel Brice, Yousry Sharif, Shazadi of Mexico, Jillina, Randa Kamal, Aida Nour, Tito, Hadia, Ariellah, Mira Betz, Sadie and many more luminaries, with whom she continues to expand her knowledge and practice.
Zahira excels at both Egyptian and international bellydance styles, and she is a pioneer of Steampunk bellydance in Canada. A true master of props, her skill with sword, zills and Isis Wings is remarkable, she’s also an excellent performer with cane and veil and her expertise extends to Fan Veils, double veil and Shamadan.
As an instructor, Zahira was a founding Faculty member at Hannan’s Bellydance Studio, where she shared her passion for dance for over 4 years (2006-2010), creating a dedicated following of numerous students some of which have gone on to become accomplished professionals and rising stars. She also taught at OmLaila Bellydance (2006-2007).
As a performer, Zahira was a founding member of the Sultanettes, collaborated with Roula Said's Roulettes, was a lead dancer with Rhythm of the Nile Dance Company (2007 - 2009) and performed regularly with Mirage (2009 - 2013).
She holds an MA in Art History from the University of Toronto and she is a PhD candidate with a focus on dance and musical performance in al-Andalus. Zahira brings her extensive knowledge of art and culture and her great love for dance to enrich her interpretations, filling her performances with artistry, excitement and delight.
Zahira has performed internationally in the USA, Mexico and Tunisia and in Toronto at events such as Luminato, the Taste of the Danforth, (IBCC) International Bellydance Conference of Canada, FanExpo, Grand Canadian Steampunk Exposition, Nuit Blanche and Steam on Queen. As a highly sought-after soloist she performs at private functions, weddings, restaurants, festivals and corporate events.
RUYAH, Managing Director, Instructor, Choreographer
With brilliant technique, innate musicality and delightful presence, Ruyah is a gorgeous bellydance artist and caring teacher. Zahira’s personal protege, Ruyah is co-owner and Managing Director of Dragonfly Bellydance, former member and rehearsal coach for Dragonfly Student Troupe and founding member of the Dragonfly Dance Company, the Dragonettes and the Airship Pirate Project. She performs regularly at public and private events around the GTA bringing exceptional elegance, grace and prowess to all her performances. In addition she often collaborates with Mirage.
The beauty of Middle Eastern dance mesmerized Ruyah at first glance and she has been dedicated to learning and perfecting this timeless art form ever since. She is grateful to have been able to study intensively and continuously with Zahira over the years as well as attend many workshops with notable and influential instructors such as Aziza, Jillina, Luna of Cairo, Hannan Sultan, Sashar Zarif, Samantha Emmanuel, Hadia, April Rose, Nath Keo, Sadie and Paola Blanton.
Bellydance has been a blessing that has led her on an amazing journey of enrichment and self-discovery and she is looking forward to sharing her passion for this beautiful and inspiring art form with others through her classes and performances.
"Everything in the universe has rhythm. Everything dances." ~ Maya Angelou
With roots in both Egyptian and American Cabaret Bellydance styles, Anuka has developed a signature dreamy and flowing interpretation of Bellydance. Her peers have nicknamed her the “Queen of the Veil” for her skills with veils of various fabrics, double veils and fan veils.
Anuka continues to develop as a dancer by continuing to take workshops and classes with local and international instructors. Her early mentors were Mayada, Hannan Sultan, and Roula Said. Notable influences include Aziza, Bozenka, Tito, Jillina, Ansuya, Hadia (Level 1 teacher training), Sahra Saeeda, Nath Keo, Rachel Brice, and Sharon Kihara.
Anuka has had the pleasure of being an instructor at Dragonfly Bellydance Studio since it opened its magical doors. She was an instructor at Hannan's Bellydance Studio from 2007 to 2009, and at the Om Laila studio with Roula Said in 2010.
She is the choreographer and artistic director for her troupe Mirage. Anuka has presented original choreographies at a variety of events, including the Dragonfly Bellydance productions "Alchemy" (2017) and "Luminescence" (2015) , the International Bellydance Conference of Canada, Ad Astra, Fan Expo, Steam on Queen and her own productions (Moonlight Mirage in 2014, Twilight Mirage in 2011, Midnight Mirage in 2010 , and Winter Mirage in 2009).
In addition to performing traditional styles, Anuka enjoys opportunities to have fun with fantasy characters - especially mermaids!
Lisa is best known for her original, sensuous, captivating style and her passionate, powerful stage presence. Her performances take the audience on an exciting journey as she tells her story through unique audio/visual performances, emotions, and a powerful show of body movement through dance.
As an instructor Lisa understands that belly dancing is a mind, body and soul experience. She knows that women and men start their journey in Middle Eastern dance for a variety of reasons, and she accepts them all with compassion, patience and a sincerity to share this empowering art form. From fun and fitness, to gaining self awareness and confidence – Lisa can help each student achieve their goal. She combines her passion for fitness and this dance art form to get the full physical benefits from belly dancing for overall health, assisting in child birth, improving muscle tone, its cardiovascular benefits and above all strengthening the spiritual connection between the mind and body through movement. In her quest to perfect her dance, she also includes weight training which helps to increase stamina, endurance and muscle controlled isolations. Her teaching technique is clear and concise, fun and engaging.
Lisa has studied belly dancing at one of Toronto's premier studios led by Hannan Sultan and she is mentored by Zahira. She has also enriched her training through classes with local instructors including tribal fusion artist Audra Simmons and workshops with renowned international artists Aziza, Ranya Renee, Jim Boz, Ariellah, and Mira Betz. She is also a former member of The Sultanettes troupe.
One of her favourite inspirational quotes is,
“Dancing can reveal all the mystery that music conceals.” ~Charles Baudelaire
An elegant dancer known for her grace and musicality, Riannagh began bellydancing at Hannan’s Bellydance Studio in 2006 under the tutelage of Abigail, Nada, and Zahira. She followed Zahira, her mentor, to Dragonfly Bellydance where she became a founding member and a lead dancer of the Dragonfly Student Troupe. Riannagh is furthering her Bellydance education through classes and workshops with internationally -acclaimed instructors.
Riannagh has a background in Celtic and Modern dance. What fascinates her about Bellydance is the depth of musical expression possible through this art form – intricate isolations that allow for seamless communication between body, music, and spirit. Riannagh's performance repertoire includes veil, sword, cane, zills and fan veils, and she often likes to explore different characters through fusion pieces to any music that calls for experimentation. Riannagh performs anywhere from stages to street festivals, at private and public events across Toronto.
As an instructor, she brings an infectious joy of dance to every class, sharing with students an expansive vocabulary of Bellydance movement in a fun and accessible manner. As a teacher, she aims to help develop each student’s musicality with special focus on body awareness and brain-teaser combinations. Riannagh is thrilled to be a part of the Dragonfly Faculty, sharing a profound love of Bellydance with dancers from all walks of life. Currently Riannagh has relocated to Europe where she teaches, performs and competes, having been awarded by her Oriental, Fusion and Folklore skills .
Dragonfly Faculty Currently on Leave
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 her teachers and from her fellow performers. For Ilana, dancing at Dragonfly nurtures the three H’s: head, heart, and hips!
Ilana has been mentored personally by Zahira to become a professional dancer and instructor.
Meryem was first introduced to belly dancing by her father when she was only 12 years old. 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 in 2012, knowing from the moment she walked onto the dance floor that she was there to stay for a very long time. She trained intensively at Dragonfly ever since with diverse Dragonfly instructors and under the tutelage of Zahira. Showing exceptional abilities in both technique and performance she quickly became one of Zahira's protegés. She became a lead dancer with Dragonfly Student Troupe from 2013 to 2016 and was invited to be an apprentice with Dragonfly Dance Company and to Dragonfly's Professional Mentorship program in 2016.
For Meryem belly dancing isn’t only one more type of dance, but one a most beautiful art that fills her heart and soul.
With lots of twirling around her living room, practicing for performances, and constantly training, belly dance has changed her life and she is looking forward to spread and generously share with others the love and knowledge of the art form.