Na'imah: comfort, tranquility, happiness, peace; blessed, fortunate
(pronounced "na-eemah", like Noxema face wash without the "x")
I started dancing in January 1999, after my doctor told me I needed to start exercising to ease my recently-diagnosed fibromyalgia. I hate aerobics classes and get bored on treadmills, so when I saw a sign advertising "Bellydance Lessons" I gave it a try. I love the music, the costumes, and the culture - and as time goes by my love for and involvement in this art form continue to grow. I've performed in venues from private parties, to corporate events, to nightclubs, to TV shows. I've traveled repeatedly to the Middle East to study and perform, most recently performing at large society weddings & several elegant private parties in Cairo, Egypt.
I began performing in 2000, started teaching classes in Grand Rapids, MI in 2001, and rented a studio space in summer 2003. In 2004 I was invited to become troupe leader, choreographer, and artistic director of the Dark Flower Gypsies. Also in 2004 I began performing weekly at Mezze with the At-Neemrah dancers as a featured soloist and troupe member, which I continued for 10 months until I received an invitation to audition for Lansing's prestigious Habibi Dancers. I jumped at the chance and soon was devoting my full energies to life as a Habibi. In mid-2006, performance and teaching opportunities in Grand Rapids and at Grand Valley State University drew me back to the West side of the state, although I continue to regard troupe director Yasmina Amal as my most important influence in dance training and inspiration and am honored to remain an inactive member of the Habibi Dancers.
Somewhere along the way I was introduced to the Middle Eastern concept of "Tarab" - a state of ecstasy and surrender one enters while listening, with body and soul, to music - and it has become my goal to bring Tarab to all my performances whether large or small. My performances are about communicating the joy and pain of the music to audiences, whatever style of music I'm performing to.
In 2009 I founded the Anandani Dancers, a new Bollywood troupe dedicated to bringing our favorite Bollywood (Hindi movie) hits to the stage. Our troupe has performed at many regional dance festivals and shows, including Celebration on the Grand and the Great Lakes Bellydance Convention. Our focus is high-energy, family friendly entertainment.
In 2010 I was priviledged to travel to India to study Bollywood dance, enjoy the prestigious Konark Dance Festival on the site of the famous temple there, and visit several important religious sites (and of course, to lay on the beach in Goa) and plan to return in December of 2012.
I began studying Bharatanatyam and Mohiniattam (Indian classical dance) intensively with reknowned Indian classical master dancer Sanjukta Bannerjee (sanjuktabanerjee.com) and have performed classical Indian dance at several area festivals under her direction. I've been honored to share this knowledge at The Great Lakes Bellydance Convention (www.thebellydancedivas.com), The Northern Lights Bellydance Festival (www.nothernlightsbellydance.com), workshops around Michigan including 2 seminars at Albion College, and most recently 2 days of intensive Bollywood workshops for the Indiana Association of Middle Eastern Teachers and Dancers (ISAMETD), in Indianapolis.
Recently Sanjukta's troupe, including Na'imah, presented a complete program featuring Bharatanatyam, Mohiniattam, and Bellydance for the Saugatuck Center for the Arts' "Celebrate India" festival. Na'imah has also taught and presented several programs for the Kent District Library's summer 2011 India cultural celebration, and the Anandani Dancers and Na'imah have performed in venues from Toronto to Indianapolis.
My passion right now is to share my absolute joy in and love of this art form with others in the hope that they'll find the same benefits I have: improved self-esteem; positive changes in health, fitness, and emotional outlook; and a strong connection with my own strength and the strength of those around me. Together we can work miraculous changes in ourselves and our world.
Member of the Alliance for Women Entrepreneurs
My current projects center around a common goal - outreach to women (and gay, trasgendered, & unconventional men!) of all sizes, shapes, and levels of fitness in the hope of building a supportive community with Middle Eastern music and dance as its nexus.
I've performed and studied with:
Mahmoud Reda; Cassandra Shore; Sahra Saeeda; Jillina, Rachel Brice, Bozenka, Kaeshi Chai, and Tamalyn Dallal of the Bellydance Superstars; Tito and Aida Nour of Egypt; Farida Fahmy of Egypt's Reda Troupe; Amel Tafsout of Algeria; Kay Hardy Campbell; Denise Enan of Egypt; Momo Kadous; Tayyar Akdeniz of Turkey; Yasmina Ramzy; Nourhan Sharif; Sonya of Chicago; Lopa Sarkar (Bollywood); Yasmina Amal and the Habibi Dancers; Aida Al Adawi; Joette Sawall; and many others.
Coming soon: my "friends & teachers" photos
Something else I'm proud of:
I brought back a beautiful dahola (large doumbek) from Cairo last year and have been taking lessons with Kathy Roberts of Pyramid and Ensemble Al-Asdeka, and whenever I can with super-fabulous drummer Nicole LeCorgne. Hopefully by the time I'm too old to dance any more, I'll be a fantastic drummer ready to torment young, new, whippersnapper bellydancers.
What don't I do?
Bachelor parties, stag, or any other sleazy event. I do not date clients - I'm happily married and wish to continue to be. I'm most comfortable at family-friendly festivals, events, and parties, where Middle Eastern dance is an expression of joy and celebration.
For more information or to ask about my availability for your next event: email me.