As a transnational fusion dance artist, Donna Mejia’s distinctive aesthetic dialogs the secular dances of North Africa and the Arab World with American Hip Hop dance and sub-genres of electronic dance. Donna also teaches the Brazilian Silvestre Dance Technique and is a primary representative after twenty years of practice. In October of 2011 she was selected by the Fulbright Association to present the 2011 Selma Jeanne Cohen Endowed lecture for International Scholarship in Dance, notably for her paper “Digital Diasporas and Transnational Dance Communities: The Effects of the Internet on Identity Formation and Collective Cultural Memory.” Donna has been guest artist in residence for twelve colleges, and received her Master of Fine Arts degree from Smith College on full fellowship. She joined the University of Colorado at Boulder’s dance department in 2012 as the first Assistant Professor of transnational and tribal fusion dance globally. She balances her time touring internationally to teach, lecture, and perform for private sponsors, festivals and community organizations. DonnaMejiaDance.com
Heather Stants is a lifelong artist and dancer with a degree in photography and fine arts. Her career in tribal fusion belly dance began in the mid 1990′s when she became the assistant director of Read My Hips (www.readmyhips.com) in Chicago, Illinois. In 1999 Heather moved to San Diego, California and launched the San Diego Tribal Fusion Belly Dance movement through her classes and the formation of Urban Tribal Dance Company. Heather’s diverse movement and arts background feeds her creativity and her groundbreaking approach to choreography. Heather and Urban Tribal Dance Company are known for their contemporary approach to belly dance, a pared down costume emphasizing body line over ornamentation, athleticism and the use of the dance form as a means of personal expression and interpretation. As a compliment to her dance training, Heather has an established yoga practice that feeds her body, mind and soul. In 2009 she took the steps toward sharing her love of yoga with others by completing the 200 hour Infinite Yoga Teacher Training (www.infiniteyoga.com), with her teacher Dana Rae Paré, and becoming a registered yoga teacher with Yoga Alliance. Heather’s flair for fluid movement allows her to create dynamic yoga classes with just the right balance between challenge, alignment and rejuvenation.
In addition to teaching several weekly classes in San Diego since 1999, Heather tours extensively sharing her love of modern tribal fusion dance with dancers in the U.S. and abroad. www.heatherstants.com
Bagoas is an award winning tribal fusion belly dancer known for his musicality, technical power, overwhelming charisma and down to earth interaction with his audience. In 2010 he won the title of the Yellow Rose of Texas at Ya Halla Y’all in the Professional Tribal Alternative Men’s category. Since then, he has been avidly performing at festivals and events such as Rakkasah East, Belly Horror, Art of the Belly, Instant Gratification, Moonlight Tribal Lounge and DC Tribal Café.
Bagoas draws on a variety of artistic abilities to accent his dance performances, including an extensive background in classical music, as well as fashion design, acrobatics and theatre. He grew up performing as a classical pianist and vocalist, and from 2002-2007 he performed with the late Baltimore Opera Company as an actor, dancer, acrobat and vocalist in over twenty different productions. This background in such a variety of artistic mediums has provided him with a unique perspective on the stylistically versatile dance form we know and love as Tribal Fusion. He has been lovingly described by audiences as an Atari joystick, one liquid muscle, the Energizer Bunny of belly dance, a blur of belly jiggles and most recently, a Red Hot Chili Pepper with Michael Jackson in his belly. www.bagoasdances.com
DOUG ADAMZ OF LIGHT RAIN
Doug Adamz began composing music to Arabic rhythms and percussion in 1974 at age twenty three, when he met De Ann, ‘The Dream Dancer’ in San Francisco. Prior to that he had been a folk-singer, rock & roller, songwriter, and classical guitarist/music major. When De Ann heard him working in a recording studio in 1976 she said, “I want you to record the music you play for me.” Thus began the creation of the album Dream Dancer and the group Light Rain. Dream Dancer was recorded in the winter of 1977 and released on vinyl early in 1978. Said to be the first album of music for belly dancing composed and recorded entirely by Americans, it embodied a unique, new sound. That sound was soon discovered and embraced by dancers around the world, including Gerald Arpino of the Joffrey Ballet, who set a dance to some selections by Adamz and fellow composer, Russ Gauthier. The Joffrey’s Light Rain became known as Arpino’s signature work. Dream Dancer helped set the stage for an avalanche of music labeled “New Age” and later “World Beat”. Light Rain followed up with their albums Dream Suite (featuring guest artists The Kronos Quartet), and Valentine to Eden. After a long break from their mid-eastern musical explorations, Light Rain burst back into the world-beat arena with the powerful and exotic CD; Dark Fire in 1994. Light Rain’s music has been used by The San Francisco Ballet, The Oakland Ballet, The Oklahoma City Ballet and The Aspen/Santa Fe Ballet. It was also featured in Robert Altman’s movie about The Joffrey Ballet, “The Company”, and on two Spanish television series, and in DVDs by many belly dance stars (Amaya, Mesmera, Delilah, Suzanna Del Vecchio and Neon just to name a few). Adamz has collaborated on recordings by Desert Wind and Gypsy Caravan. Mysterious and romantic, Light Rain’s music sings to the gypsy in each of our souls. With their unique hybrid of Arabic and American musical sensibilities, they have indeed made a niche of their own in this diverse musical world we live in. -
Read more of the story behind Light Rain here and here