"I started the JWAAD Summer School in 1990 because I had a mad vision of a group of Belly Dancers spending a whole week dancing, studying and playing together, and I couldn't think of anything I'd like to do more. I could see in my mind's eye a series of classes taking place each day with a wide variety of teachers. The central idea was that these teachers would have very different styles of teaching and would be teaching very different subjects, all within the Belly Dance idiom. I had been studying at a dance school in which the culture was very much 'our way or the wrong way' and I wanted to break free of all that nonsense.
I found the most amazing venue at Stowe School, which worked very well for us the first year, but didn't have enough dancing space as we expanded. As the women gamboled about on the lawns I knew that I would need to keep up the level of atmosphere, and I worked hard to find us the most wonderful of venues during the subsequent years. One year we went to a hippy Lord's manor house (with a slimy green swimming pool), another a gorgeous college in Hertfordshire, but for many years we were content in Tring School. The studios were ornamental, the food was appalling, the lawns were gorgeous! Then four years ago a tip off introduced me to Wellington College. Oh my! The first time anyone drives down the approach road they laugh with delight. We now have a lake, a 1920's outdoor swimming pool and more lawns than we can possibly roll down.
The Summer School is the most fun of anything I do in Belly Dance. The chance to spend a whole week together means many friendships are formed, and we all have a chance to hang out together in the evenings. There are many dancers who live far and wide (we have dancers from all over Europe, the USA, and sometimes the Far East), and who only see each other once a year at Summer School. So on arrivals day you see a lot of hugging and smiling, and high pitched exclamations! The evening activities include the Zar night, which is a very bonding experience, the show, which means we are all rooting for each other onstage, and lots of other things including a talent night, which is hilarious. Last year we had magic tricks, songs, funny poems and a lot more. The two parties are very different. On the first weekend we have a Hafla with casual performances and a fashion show. On the last night we have a fancy dress party, with a theme each year. The sight of famous dancers dressed in odd outfits being historical characters or works of art is amazing. And of course we dance our socks off!"
For more about Josephine click here
Yasmina of Cairo
Yasmina, sometimes known as 'The English Rose of Cairo', has over twenty-five years of experience in the field of Egyptian oriental dance as a performer, teacher and choreographer. After travelling and dancing her way around the Middle East before settling in Cairo in 1995, Yasmina performed with her orchestra for eight consecutive years, building a reputation as one of the city's best-loved dancers. A long-time student of Raqia Hassan, as well as other Egyptian master teachers, Yasmina has spent the past decade teaching and performing at sell-out workshops and festivals worldwide, and developing her own unique style.
We are thrilled that Yasmina is coming to teach at Summer School this year! In her own words "The day I was swept away by the sounds of Egyptian music and took my first steps down the road of oriental dance, I could never have imagined where that road would lead. To me, this dance has brought much joy, fulfillment, and depth of self-expression, as I believe it has and will do for countless others. No matter how small or great a part it plays in your life, it is always life-enhancing and ultimately good for the soul."
Kay is a great fan of Summer School, having been to every one! Initially she came as a student, and found her dancing changed significantly after this intense week of classes. Now as a senior JWAAD teacher and Director of the JWAAD Professional Training Program, Kay is responsible for training the JWAAD Tutors and Assessors, as well as timetabled classes. Both as a student and as a teacher, Kay loves the fun element of Summer School, the party nights, the talent show and the chance to catch up with friends.
As always, Kay will be bringing the Farida Souk to Summer School, with a huge range of costumes and accessories, class gear, veils, sticks and much much more. If you're looking for anything special, contact Kay at Farida to see if she can bring it to Summer School for you.
Kay also takes groups to Cairo regularly with Farida Adventures.
Yvette has been studying and performing belly dance for more years than she cares to remember - when she started dinosaurs were already extinct and mobile phones were still only seen in films (think Michael Douglas in Wall Street), and the creators of Facebook were not even conceived! She has been attending Summer School for almost as long.
"It's best to draw a veil over the early days and the ghosts, partying and general hysterics..." After all now she has a reputation as a director of JWAAD Belly Dance Training to maintain! "But although the Summer School has evolved over the years it remains one of the highlights of my calendar."
Yvette teaches authentic Egyptian dance, theatrical belly dance and stagecraft both in the UK and abroad and runs JWAAD accredited courses on the history, culture and practice of belly dance. She also runs Dance Yourself Happy workshops and classes for cancer patients and anyone else in need of a laugh and a pick-me-up.
She is the creator and performer of Sequins on My Balcony, a one-woman show combining dance, comedy and drama, and incorporates this experience into her teaching. As a result, Yvette's classes always have a unique and unpredictable flavour!
Most recently Yvette has been one of the subjects of The Big C & Me, a BBC1 documentary series on living with cancer.
Gwen is a Director and Tutor of the JWAAD Professional Training Program, as well as a senior dancer in Johara Dance Company. Well known for her specialism in props of all kinds (sword, stick, veils, fans, shamadam etc.) and in the fusion of Egyptian dance with ballet and theatrical Western styles.
Gwen first came to Summer School in 1995, and hasn't missed a year ever since! "I really love being able to spend a precious week each year really focussing on belly dance - getting inspiration, learning and developing my dancing, and enjoying the fun of teaching and passing on my passion for the dance." She even loves teaching tricky exercises at 9am!
Margaret has been dancing for 26 years and teaching for the majority of those. She has been a member of Jo's dance companies, Masriat and Johara Dance, and is well known for her classical Egyptian style and beautiful choreographies.
"I have attended all but the first Summer School. What can I say? Summer School is highly addictive! It's fun, educational and life affirming. For me the freedom to be not just someone's wife, mother or grandmother (much as I love those things), I need Summer School as it refreshes my soul. See you there dance sisters!
Raphaelle has been coming to Summer School since 1997, first as a student, then as a slave (way before Angels were on duty!), and then as a teacher once she had completed her JWAAD Teacher Training Diploma in 1999. She's been coming every year, except the one her daughter was born (but she still made a point of visiting for the day).
"Summer School is definitely the place to be and it's absolutely addictive! I love meeting up with people from all over the UK as well as abroad in such an amazing venue. I love teaching every year and I love attending classes with my peers... it's such a nice way to share and learn. For me Summer School is unmissable!!!"
Sandra has been dancing/teaching in styles including Latin, Modern, Jazz, Tap etc. for "more years than I care to remember!" She discovered Belly Dance about 11 years ago and in 2007 attended the Bellydance Congress, and that was the start of a wonderful dance journey.
"My very first Summer School was in 2008 and even though it was part of my training for the JWAAD Diploma, and pretty full-on, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole fun, if not exhausting, week. I haven't missed one since! For me as a teacher it's a chance not only to deliver workshops to wonderful Belly Dance students, which I love to do, but also to challenge myself and develop my skills both as a performer and a teacher. It also gives me a chance to recharge my batteries, and I immerse myself in dance and nothing but dance for a whole week.
Add to that the fun evenings with friends, parties and show, really what's not to like! In my opinion it's the best residential event of the Belly Dance year, and long may it continue!!"
Catherine has been dancing all her life, learning ballet and tap from the age of 4 until discovering belly dance at 17. She has a background in Theatre Studies and loves to use her performance skills in creating energetic and entertaining dances. She has toured the South of England and Northern France as a soloist and troupe dancer with Johara Dance, led by Josephine Wise. She recently performed with Johara Dance as the jealous Queen Narcissa in their 2015 show, The Mirror. Catherine has been teaching Belly Dance since 2004. She teaches in Kent and throughout the UK. She is a National Technique Assessor for the JWAAD Personal Development Programme.
"I first went to Summer School in 2004 after being 'strongly encouraged' by my teacher at the time, Ann Hall. I was in awe of all the wonderful teachers and loved the vivacious atmosphere, so I knew I had to be a part of it again! I've been many times since and it's still as fun and friendly as ever. I am thrilled to be taking part as one of the teachers that I had so looked up to in that first year. I feel it is a great achievement!"
Ann has been dancing for almost 20 years, and attended her first Summer School in 2002. Since completing her JWAAD Teacher Training in 2008 she has been teaching belly dance for several years. Ann studied Turkish style for five years with Melek and found Jo Wise during that time. "I found the comparison between Turkish and Egyptian styles very interesting."
Travelling extensively to Egypt, Turkey and North Africa Ann has built up a wealth of knowledge of not only the dance styles, but the true culture of these countries, and last year she had the privilege to perform at a private party with nine other dancers on the Nile Maxim in Cairo. "We not only had Randa's band but her singer, Samir!"
Ann has continued with her JWAAD training by taking some of the new accredited courses. "I love learning, but first and foremost I love to share my knowledge and truly dance from my heart."
Alanya (Abbie Mason) started belly dancing in 2003, and became a professional tutor in 2009, having obtained her JWAAD Teaching Diploma. She teaches regular weekly classes across Herefordshire, and one-off workshops around the UK. She performs at shows, haflas, parties, charity and community events, and leads her student performance troupe, Odalisque.
Also trained in ballet and jazz, Alanya is particularly interested in choreography and staging, whilst continuing to develop and absorb an understanding of the roots and traditions of the dance form.
She has been coming to Summer School since 2009, first as a student and more recently as a tutor. "Summer School provides the perfect environment to try new things, push yourself, or indulge in your favourite dance styles. The Summer School parties are legendary - we work hard and play hard!"
Katherine has been dancing since 2003 ("Actually I was dancing before that, but had to give up on the clogs due to injury!"), at first learning and then teaching Egyptian style only. "But being a bit of a magpie brain I soon started to get distracted by other shiny things... notably Hawaiian dance and lately Tribal improv..." which she now also teaches. She also loves folkloric styles as there is always interesting background info to learn and fun to be had with costumes and props, "and the chance to swing a big stick around is always very welcome!"
"Tribal improv is probably my favourite group dance form now though, I love the organic way things happen and the marvellous 'in the moment' feeling when there is no choreography to master, and different personalities can emerge when people lead and follow, although we are all executing the same moves and combos. I think the moment I first saw a performance where everyone was visibly having great fun was the breakthrough. After that I was hooked and now my tribe, the Severn Sisters, dance at festivals and events all over Shropshire and beyond.
I think this will be my 10th Summer School, so I'm obviously an addict, and my 5th as an Angel, which is also mostly fun as I get to hang out with the delectable Sophie and play with fairy lights and sari cloths... I see Summer School as a time outside of everything else, I get to dance as much as I like, learn new stuff that inspires me, pass on what I myself have learned, spend time with a tremendous bunch of women, many of whom for the rest of the year I look forward to seeing again, and just be me, the dancey me, and also sometimes the silly me, for a whole week! I always come away feeling both energised and rested. What could be better?
International award winner, Maëlle is one of London's top professional belly dancer performers. She is a qualified JWAAD teacher and assessor.
Originally from France, as a child she trained as a rhythmic gymnast as well as appearing in musicals from the age of 4. One of the founding members of Company of Dreams, Maëlle has starred in many theatrical dance productions including Dreams of the Orient, Johara Dance's The Mirror, and Ask/Love (UK and Australia tours) as well as having a career as a solo belly dancer.
"I am really looking forward to teaching again at Summer School this year, and being part of this very unique and fun learning experience!"
Ishtar started her dance training at the age of 2 and was a ballroom champion and theatrical choreographer before surrendering her heart to belly dance 16 years ago. In 2011 she completed her JWAAD Teacher Training Diploma, and also taught at Summer School for the first time.
"The many talented teachers and exciting workshop topics - teamed with a wonderful community feel and genuine camaraderie - was so inspiring that I have been returning regularly ever since. I always aim to inspire and share my joy of dancing, and am once again looking forward to teaching at the annual Summer School, as well as catching up with my extended belly dance family!"
Sue Baker (Elisa Gameela)
Sue has been dancing since 1998 and teaching in the Cambridge/North Essex area since 2008. "2010 was a turning point for me as I was finally persuaded by my good friends, Lisa Michaela and Abbie Mason, to come along to Summer School. I was a little nervous coming the first year but I was so inspired and made so many dance friends that I haven't missed even one day of Summer School since!
I have been teaching at Summer School since 2014 and really love to share my choreographical creations, experience and knowledge in such an inspiring atmosphere, and have felt honoured to have taught the group dance on one occasion.
To choose one of my highlights of Summer School is difficult, but particularly memorable times were receiving my teaching Diploma, dressed as a Salvador Dali painting hung on a gallery wall, during one of the legendary fancy dress parties; and the complete surprise of winning the inaugural JWAAD Award for 'Commitment to Continued Learning' during the interval of the 2015 show."
Sun Fyre started teaching when her daughter was 6 months old, so over 13 years ago, and has been teaching for over 10 years. She quickly got into Tribal and studied extensively with Paulette Rees Denis of Gypsy Caravan between 2007-2014, becoming certified to Level 3 teaching and level 5 in GCTBD format.
Over the last 5 years she has been doing a lot of dance/fitness as a Zumba and Burlesque fitness instructor and expanding her creative energies into different areas including comedy/theatric and experimental fusion with dance/movement, allowing inspiration and imagination to guide the way, and in partnership as one half of Merritease and Maud.
"This will be my first JWAAD Summer School, and I'm very excited about it! I'll be teaching a Gypsy Skirt workshop, which is great because I love swishing my skirt, and swishing together is even more fun! Fun is key in my workshops and the format is unique and accessible to all, with fabulous moves, some improvisation, combinations and choreography and, as ever, room for self-expression."
Alizé is from the South West of France. When she was 15 she went to Morocco for a holiday and discovered Oriental music. As soon as she returned to France she started learning Belly Dance. She fell in love with it and it became her real passion. She went from festival to festival on intensive workshop weekends to improve, and at the age of 20 started teaching Belly Dance classes. At the same time she joined a professional troupe of Egyptian Folkloric dancers called Ya Nawaem. Within the troupe Alizé became more familiar with folkloric styles, discovering all their treasures and falling in love with styles such as Saidi, Baladi, Nubian, Khaleegy, Iraqi and Haggala. In 2014 she achieved her JWAAD Diploma, and that is how she became aware of JWAAD and the Summer School.
"I have heard such good things about it during the Diploma, with every other teacher telling me each year to come and how fantastic it is! And this year, finally, I can come and meet all these people who are inspired by one common thing - our passion for dancing. I am sure we will have a great time all together and I look forward to seeing you all!!"
Adam Warne (aka Rhythmic Ginger)
Adam is a UK-based multi-percussionist and a specialist in dance accompaniment. Working in both Middle Eastern and Contemporary contexts, he is known for his attentive and intuitive approach.
As well as the Egyptian tabla, Adam also performs, teaches and records with the Riq, Tar, Bodhran, Cajon, and an array of different drums from musical traditions around the world. In addition to working in dance, he also performs internationally as a member of Guy Schalom's Baladi Blues Ensemble as well as other bands.
As a drum tutor Adam is known for combining a fun approach with a clear, in-depth presentation of technique and rhythms.
Adam enjoys being part of the JWAAD Understanding Music Used within Belly Dance course and delights in coming to Summer School each year to give us his expertise in the Dance with Live Tabla classes.