Belly Dancer of the Universe Competitions
Presented by Tonya and Atlantis
and Produced by Belly Dancer of the Universe® Corporation, ©2008


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- Workshop Instructors/Teachers


Jillina, BDUC 2008 InstructorJillina:
Celebrity Judge and
Workshop Instructor

A disciplined professional with tight and powerful technique, Jillina has devoted her life to dance. As artistic director and main choreographer for the Bellydance Superstars and Desert Roses, audiences admire Jillina for her artistic interpretations, her understanding of the culture, her musicality and innovative style.

She is a spellbinding and gregarious performer whose passion for dance amazes audiences everywhere. Founder and director of the Award winning Sahlala Dancers, Jillina pulls from a strong background in Jazz, Ballet, and Hip Hop to create a colorful Middle Eastern and world fusion repertoire. Her talents have taken her around the world to Japan, Argentina, U.K., Europe, Taiwan, Brazil, Mexico, Czech Republic, Hungary, Monaco, Canada, Germany, Paris, Ireland and Egypt, gaining her recognition by the dance community worldwide. Jillina has won numerous awards including "Best Modern Egyptian Dancer," "Best Instructional Video." "Best Dance Company" and "Dancer of the Year."

In addition to appearing on a number of television programs, and co-producing a line of instructional and performance dvds that due to their success are now offered in 5 different languages, Jillina travels the world extensively teaching seminars and performing in concerts. Through her years of professional and teaching experience, Jillina has mastered the art of dance instruction to artists of all levels. Jillina’s annual trips to Egypt allow her to progress in her art as well as keep up with all the modern trends, which she graciously shares with students and peers. As a master instructor, she upholds the integrity and tradition as well as incorporating her signature style. Currently Jillina recently acquired Evolution Dance Studios located in Universal City, California and will also be releasing her latest line of instructional dvds set to release in 2007.

KajiraCelebrity Judge and
Workshop Instructor

Specializing in American Tribal Style Bellydance

Kajira has devoted her career to the proliferation of American Tribal Style (ATS) BellyDance. Though skilled in many other traditional dance forms, this specialty chose her due to its “no borders” sense of creativity, its modern approach to ancient ways and its capacity to bring dancers together nearly psychically through its unique structured group improvisational dancing. After 8 years under the tutelage of Carolena Nericcio (creatrix of the form and director of FatChanceBellyDance), Kajira went on to develop her own particular format for the ATS Style that sets it apart from that of her teacher’s and others in the genre.

This is the Kajira Djoumahna/BlackSheep BellyDance format, for which she offers teacher certifications in order to keep the format alive and well the world over. Among Kajira’s many accomplishments, some include being a staff member of the highly esteemed Mendocino Middle Eastern Music and Dance Camp for 7 years (before relocating to Maui, HI from Northern CA); teaching aboard the Arabian Nights at Sea cruise for bellydancers in 2001, 2002, 2003 and again in 2006; judging the Belly Dancer of the Universe Competition twice; teaching in Germany (2004) and in England (2006) with more confirmed dates for 2007 in Austria, Germany and Taiwan; 3 times at Folk Tours Camp in PA; all over the U.S. and in HI where her ongoing classes are held.

She is the author and publisher of The Tribal Bible (published in 2003, sold out in 2006 except for a few copies for future teachers), and besides ATS performs and teaches Moroccan Guedra, American Classical Belly Dance, Tribal Fusion Belly Dance, Turkish Romani and Romani-Oriental Dance, theatrical dance and Gothic Belly Dance. Kajira writes an ongoing tribal Q-&-A column in the international dance magazine “Zaghareet!” and has 2 instructional DVDs. She has been the recipient of numerous awards, including 2 for Instruction, 2 for Event Production and for Outstanding Achievement in Middle Eastern Dance and the Arts.

Kajira is the producer of the first and largest Tribal BellyDance festival in the world, Tribal Fest (held in the Northern SF Bay Area of CA each May), as well as the Maui Intensives (held on the paradisaical island of Maui, HI each July). Kajira oversees BlackSheep BellyDance - CA and BSBD - HI, and is involved somewhat in the BSBD alumni troupes Tribal Zone and Evil Eye Belly Dance. Currently Kajira studies the classical East Indian dance form from the temples of Orissa, Odissi, 2 - 3 times weekly with Sarala Dandekar, an Odissi master teacher from the U.S. and India. In the works besides all this are new instructional DVDs and a performance DVD. Her goal in life is to HAVE FUN and to spread JOY and INSPIRATION through Dance! Visit her website -- 808.891.8891

Harry SaroyanHarry Saroyan
Celebrity Judge

Harry's love, devotion and contributions to the Middle Eastern arts has made him one of the most influential men in the Belly Dance world. Recipient of numerous awards, including "Lifetime Achievement Award" from Tonya and Atlantis and the BDUC, "MECDA Hall of Fame," and an Honored Professional in the "National Register's Who's Who" in Executives and Professionals, and his most recent award from The Chronicles Magazine of Isis Foundation, "Lifetime of Dedication, Achievement, and Contribution to the Art of the Middle Eastern Dance and Music."

Harry, who is a connoisseur of Middle Eastern fine arts and music, has produced and directed major Middle Eastern show productions since mid 70's. He has served as a senior judge for dance competitions and contributing writer for dance publications. A master craftsman and a recording artist, he brings the dancers the ultimate in sound and selection with his exquisite line of finger cymbals and memorable recordings. His exquisite line of Finger Cymbals and Decorative Coins for costuming are internationally known as well as his two recordings, "An Oriental Bouquet" and "Cairo."

Visit his web site

Celebrity Judge and Workshop Instructor
Tasha Banat, Middle Eastern and American

Middle Eastern and American; It is hard to describe where one personality ends with her and where the other begins. 

Her accomplishments vary greatly as she has always been very much on the political scene with TV Talk Shows, magazine articles and newspapers commentaries in both English and translated to Arabic. 

Then there is the cultural blend of Belly Dance and Debka (Lebanese, Palestinian, Jordanian, Syrian, and Iraqi) folk dance that has been her trademark in Arabic nightclubs for more than 40 years. 

Unlike most Belly Dance Instructors, Tasha Banat is more about preserving the cultural artistic accomplishments that her people have lost touch with during the last century.  

When Tasha performs, you see what Arab pride is all about.  You know you are watching an artist in motion, not a diva.

The most interesting aspect of Tasha's style of teaching, is that her classes are fun, logical, encouraging and interesting.  No matter what level of study you are at, you will learn new and interesting movements, dance steps, combinations and so much more. 

You can go to her simple web site and there is no doubt that what you see is what you get.

Prince Andrew:
Celebrity Judge and Workshop Instructor

Prince Andrew, Male Belly Dancer"As a teen I managed to get into a public alternative school. Our physical education classes started with yoga, Sufi dancing and massage! On my own I began also studying meditation and the pranayama techniques of Self-Realization Fellowship. This became my lifelong path.

In Los Angeles I performed at some of the well-known restaurants like Dar Magreb, did a couple of bellygrams at Moun of Tunis and danced for a short time at Marrakesh in Studio City.

In 1985, I was blessed to see a very spiritually uplifting performance of the Shakti dance company, which performed in the South Indian Classical dance style, Bharata Natyam. I approached the director of the dance company, Viji Prakash, after the show and discussed the possibility of studying with her. I decided that studying Bharata Natyam would be a sublime way of bringing together my meditation practice and my love for dance. In 1986, I began the arduous spiritual journey into the heady discipline of this ancient dance form. It is a powerful blend of spiritual storytelling and channeling of the Divine creative force, Shakti, into dance. I did Bharata Natyam performances of Buddha, Shiva, Krishna and various deities at temples and performing arts centers for several years.

In the mid-90s I began to feel a greater pull toward my dancing and the healing arts as my main focus of expression. I seemed to be harkening back to my high school days where I first learned massage, yoga and belly dancing! I began studying more bodywork techniques and enrolled in both an Oriental medical school for acupuncture and herbology training and in the American University of Complementary Medicine to study homeopathy and Ayurvedic medicine.

In 1998, I decided to return to college and began studying in graduate programs for natural medicine:  Chinese medicine, Homeopathy and Ayurvedic medicine.  In the study of the channels, meridians and points that are common to Eastern healing, I found a profound link to the movements and healing power of Eastern dances.

Finally, in 2002, I decided it was time to perform for “my community” and danced at MECDA’s Cairo Carnivale held in Glendale with Juliette. Juliette and I were tickled to have our picture featured in the L.A. Times from that performance; but, oddly, the accompanying article was all about belly dance being a “celebration of femininity” and mentioned nothing of the men involved.

In 2003, I did the unthinkable and actually participated in a competition, “Belly Dancer of the Universe!” The name of that always makes me smile. I competed in the “Fusion” category and blended belly dancing with Bharata Natyam. I was awarded the championship for that category and tied for a “People’s Choice” award.

In 2004, I continued to expand my performances and explored more fusion with Indian dance, even choreographing some group performances that tell the stories of ancient India with both dance styles.

I had the opportunity to learn some Dabke dancing from male Lebanese dancer, Karim Cheikh-Ali, and performed in a group dance in a production called "Arabesque" produced by Juliet Arroyo at the Alex Theatre.

Over the years of studying Indian dance and being strongly connected with the South Asian community, I was heavily exposed to Hindi Filmi "Bollywood" dances featured in many of the movies produced in India. I have often performed to these songs and enjoy their choreographies.  These dances are a wonderful fusion/masala of North and South Indian dance styles, belly dancing, pop, jazz and hip-hop. While I am not especially trained in jazz or hip-hop, I do like to blend belly dance, Bharata Natyam and other dance styles in performances to these very invigorating songs.  I began teaching a "Belly to Bollywood" dance class for those who are interested in exploring this fusion of exciting styles.  In 2005, I also joined blue13dance company and began to perform in group Bollywood shows.  Our group has danced at various venues in Southern California and in Arizona.  The highlight was dancing in the invigorating Bollywood fairytale, "Karishma," which was inspired by Shakespeare's "A Midsummer's Night's Dream."  It premiered at the Ford Amphitheatre to a packed and appreciative audience and received glowing reviews.

Also, in 2005, I began expanding my performances and instruction to  international venues.  To date I have danced in Costa Rica, Spain and Toronto, Canada.  It is wonderful to travel, dance and meet new friends.

As I mature and see more and more men explore this art form, I am pleased to witness the climate increasingly welcoming us. The internet also connects us and offers us role models and opportunities to share, connect and learn from one another. Gradually we are coming together and celebrating the force of Spirit and Nature intertwining together in profound and magical ways as dancers and friends."

AMY SIGIL OF UNMATA: Celebrity Judge and Workshop Instructor

Amy Sigil, Fusion BellydancerAmy Sigil, artistic director and owner of WORLD Studio in Sacramento, California, instructs captivating classes in Modern Bellydance Fusion.  Each of her inventive choreographies take shape on the stages of many venues.  Amy has been bellydancing for the past 8 years, working hard to develop her own entrancing style.

Inspired by her experience in American Tribal Style, Egyptian Cabaret, Bharat Natyam, Polynesian dance and more, Amy brings to the stage an innovative dance experience.Amy opened up WORLD (womb of real life dance) Studio in 2002.  She has also been feeding creative energy into her solo performance and her troupe, UNMATA, developed in 2003.  Amy's charismatic disposition and liquid technique set her style apart from other bellydance forms, throwing a ritualistic and theatrical twist into her interpretation of music through dance.  "My vision is to organize a community safe for personal expression, creativity, and growth. My purpose is to provide a home for alternative dance and rhythm.”

Amy Sigil, Belly Dance Instructor and PerformerAmy and UNMATA have taught workshops and performed nationwide at events such as The Spirit of the Tribes, Northern Migration, Tribal Fest, Tribal Quest Northwest, and Tribal Café. Each October Amy Sigil, UNMATA, and Hot Pot Studio host The Blood Moon Regale, a themed weekend of workshops, dance fellowship, and a fully produced showcase of student and professional dancers.

UNMATA is a professional, multi-award-winning, bellydance fusion troupe based in Sacramento, CA. Formed in 2003 by Hot Pot Studio’s artistic director, Amy Sigil, UNMATA is Shelly DeCant, Luna Taylor, Casey Staub, Tina Boyer, Kristina Zajic, Kari VanderZwaag, and April Rose Wilson. The team force of UNMATA is known for extreme choreography layered with inventive movement, and for tapping into an unmistakable divine inebriation on and off stage. UNMATA has spent 2006 performing and teaching workshops cross-country at such events as The Spirit of the Tribes in Ft Lauderdale, Tribal Fest in Sebastopol, Northern Migration in Buffalo, Tribal Café in Los Angeles, and Tribal Quest Northwest in Portland.

UNMATA was Tribal Group Champion at BDUC 2007.

UNMATA,professional bellydance fusion troupe
Currently, UNMATA is preparing for the sixth annual Blood Moon Regale, a weekend celebration of workshops and dance theater hosted by Hot Pot Studio each Halloween.

Visit the web site:

Lee Ali
Celebrity Judge and Workshop Instructor

Lee Ali is a specialist in Moroccan dance and folklore. With a Moroccan dancer mom and a Turkish drummer dad, Lee was born into the Middle Eastern performing community. She began as a child performer in the 1970’s, the golden era of “old style” belly dance. On stage, she’s delivered more than 2,000 performances in theater, festivals, cabaret and film. Lee has studied dance in Morocco, Turkey, Greece and Egypt. A skillful drummer and percussionist, Lee plays the t’bal, (a double-sided drum traditionally played by men) and sings in Arabic and Greek.

By age 20, Lee was artistic director of her own dance studio in the Arab quarter of Brooklyn, New York, where she perfected her colorful teaching style and her commitment to building community thru dance. 1996, she produced the documentary film, Belly Dancing In America: Importing Middle Eastern Dance. In 2001, she formed The Berber Ballet, a dance and drum ensemble specializing in 6/8 rhythms and theatricalized dances of the Maghreb. Lee holds a bachelors degree in Psychology from UC, Irvine and she is currently writing a book on Moroccan dance and trance rituals

Visit Lee Ali's Web site

Ma*Shuqa Mira Murjan
Celebrity Judge and Workshop Instructor

International Performer and Instructor - The Professional Difference - Elegance of Style

Ma*Shuqa has been the featured dancer in special productions: at the San Francisco Palace of Fine Arts, for special parties in Greece and Egypt, on German national TV, at the famous nightclub, The Apropos, in the alstaadt in Koln, and an evening’s showcase of dance choreography at the Comedia Colonia Theatre in Koln, Germany. Be it at a hafla or on the stage, Ma*Shuqa's performances radiate high energy, love for dance orientale, a warm personality, and a display of masterful talent with “elegance of style”. ™

Ma*Shuqa is known internationally as the “elegant” performer with a unique style of dancing which blends the music and dance into a compelling art form. Her colleagues have called her performances creatively unique and inspiring. For an innovative performance, Ma*Shuqa designed an original “high technology” costume with specially commissioned electronic circuitry powering hundreds of tiny incandescent lights. Ma*Shuqa is a prominent representative of the innovation and creativity born of her native “Silicon Valley”—the home of the Internet and computer revolution.

An Accomplished Performer and Instructor, Ma*Shuqa's dance style and teaching repertoire reflect years of study evident in her dazzling performances to Egyptian, Greek, Arabic, Turkish, Armenian, Moroccan, Persian, and Lebanese music.  A comment often heard from her audiences in Cairo, Germany, and Athens; "She understands our music and our her dancing, we see the expression of joy and emotions of our culture."

Ma*Shuqa’s dance style is synthesized from a background of music, dance, and mental and physical conditioning. Ma*Shuqa’s instructional methodology is specifically designed to meet the dancer’s learning objectives and goals. Dance style coaching is transformational. Through coaching she addresses your uniqueness—your special talents and personality, and assists you in weaving these into a unified dance persona. When you dance you will experience the joy of your own special style that you develop with coaching assistance from Ma*Shuqa that facilitates the integration of your personality, mind, and body into a unique dance style.

Ma*Shuqa, is known as the performing dancer’s instructor, and provides style and performance coaching to assist dancers create unique performance signatures. Ma*Shuqa teaches dancers to understand the music and transform steps and technique into a performance with the magical essence of style. In her classes, you can expect to receive professional attention and performance tips from a performer’s point of view.


Kamaal, Male Belly DancerKAMAAL - Celebrity Judge

Kamaal has been performing and teaching Middle Eastern dance for over twenty years and has danced in many fine restaurants in Northern and Southern California; The Marrakech and The Grapeleaf in San Francisco, The El Mahgreb and Ta Delphina in San Jose, and the El Grande in Manhattan Beach just to name just a few.

Kamaal was also a two-time recipient of the Nafisa Gem award for the “Best Professional Male Belly Dancer.”

Kamaal’s dance style ranges from traditional Egyptian cabaret to folkloric. His dance career began with ballroom dance. He was a competition dancer for more than 15 years before he discovered Middle Eastern dance. He is known for his creative use of props, most notably his famous tray and sword balancing routines, and his show stopping double veil.

Amina, Teacher, Performer, EntertainerAMINA GOODYEAR, Celebrity Judge

Amina began dancing professionally in 1966 at San Francisco's famous Bagdad Cabaret, where she was the principal nightly dancer for twenty years. Amina's teaching career began in 1971.  Soon after, she founded THE ASWAN DANCERS, the premiere Egyptian Dance Company. She also  founded The Cairo Cats Band,  and co-founded The Arabian Knights Band. As a master dance teacher, AMINA also teaches Percussion and Arabic Song Translation, pointing out that understanding the music and the meaning of the music is key to understanding the dance.  She has played backup percussion for musicians such as Susu Pampanin, Reda Darwish, and Georges, Elias and Tony Lammam. 

Amina continues to study, to teach and perform. She has five regular dance classes a week, bimonthly Drumming Workshops for Dancers and weekly Cabaret Performance classes. She continues to dance and choreograph for The Aswan Dancers for their weekly appearance at an Egyptian club.  As a favorite of the Arabic community, she always has a venue at Middle Eastern nightclubs where she dances and performs percussion with the Band while spotlighting her student dancers. AMINA sings with ASWAT, the Arabic choir specializing in classical Arabic music. In addition, she has a full schedule of private classes, focusing on training dancers for professional performance.  

Amina, Middle Eastern DancerIn 1991, AMINA created the Giza Club, an Arabic cultural organization that sponsors dancers and musicians, cultural lectures and performances. Giza Club members are worldwide and guide the Giza Academy of Music and Legends of Middle Eastern Dance Videos (The Giza Awards). AMINA produced two videos: the documentary "Hizz ya Wiz," and "Nadia in America," with the Egyptian star Nadia Hamdi.

With more than thirty-five years of Middle Eastern Dance experience, AMINA feels that she has just now reached her full teaching potential. In 1994 AMINA was inducted into the Middle Eastern Hall of Fame in New York, (AAMED).

Amina and friends with drums

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Angelika Nemeth

Angelika Nemeth
Celebrity Judge

Angelika Nemeth is an international Middle Eastern dance artist who has been presented in Europe, Asia and North America and is regularly featured in workshops throughout the United States. She is currently on the dance faculties of four Southern California colleges where she teaches accredited classes in Middle Eastern dance.

In 1982 and ’83 she sponsored dance study tours to Egypt and has since returned to the Middle East to study on her own. In August 2005 she organized and escorted a dance study tour to Turkey. She has produced and directed numerous world dance concerts, co-sponsored two international Middle Eastern dance conferences and has appeared on numerous videos and magazine covers.

In 1999 Orange Coast College recognized Angelika for her outstanding teaching record. Her love for the dance is communicated in her enthusiastic, informative and detailed teaching style She makes learning fun as well as challenging. Her work as a teacher, performer and producer has had a major impact on Middle Eastern dance worldwide.

Known for her dynamic command of the stage and her passionate presentations, she blends traditional and contemporary Middle Eastern dance styles into a “must-see” performing experience. In 1997 she received the “Best Modern Egyptian Dancer” award by the International Academy of Middle Eastern Dance (IAMED), and in 2000 was nominated for her outstanding achievement in choreography. She is the artistic director and choreographer of the award-winning Angelika Nemeth Dance Ensemble. Angelika has certificates in Dance and Theatre Arts and Related Technologies, and holds a BS degree in Education and an MA in Psychology specializing in the Transformational Arts.

Angelika is on the executive judging panel for the BDUC annually.Angelika Nemeth, Belly Dancer

Her website is:


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Celebrity Judge

Helena Vlahos started dancing professionally at the age of at sixteen in Los Angeles where she was residing at the time. Distant relative FoFo De Milo, a Greek-American dancer/entertainer and first owner of the Greek Village Restaurant in Hollywood, spotted young Helena dancing at family celebrations. FoFo sensed that Helena was a natural talent, and offered to give her dance instruction in exchange for help at her studio.
It was in the company of her mentor FoFo De Milo, that Helena first really took notice of the Raqs Sharqi Dance form. She recalls that most of the dancers performing were American greats such as Aisha Ali and Antoinette, but that there were also occasionally shows featuring Middle Eastern natives like the famous Iklas Osman who was noted for her feats of grace on upturned drinking glasses. As Helena grew to adolescence, the world of La Danse was weaving its way into her heart.

Then in 1964, FoFo took her to see a newly opened club, the Athenian Restaurant in L.A. As was customary, the club's owner encouraged young ladies to get up and dance. Helena obliged, and the owner promptly invited her to dance at the restaurant's upcoming Grand Opening. A Star had been born in Southern California that night. When questioned as to how she knew that Belly Dance was to be her career, she speaks of this night: "When I stepped on the floor, I think, my first step on there, I knew. I was very shy in school; if the teacher called on me I cringed, you know, my face would get all red if I had to answer questions. You'd never think it, I know, by talking to me, but that's exactly the way I was...I still am, in that kind of environment...but in the Dance I felt secure and in control...

Helena had an inborn affinity for the Dance, and a lovely sister, Maria, who later also became a dancer and could make beautiful, durable costumes that fitted well. For the first time in her life, Helena felt that she'd found a place where she truly belonged.

Dancing at Shakour's Oasis in Hollywood in the 60’s was a pivotal point in Helena’s development. It was there that she had the pleasure of having musicians especially devoted to creating a rapport with the movements of her dance. One standout favorite was Oud master Khamis El Fino Ali, who'd pull attenuated sounds out of his instrument in complement to Helena's belly roll displays. Equally delightful were the playfully expressive vocalizations of the great Najib Khoury. Such experiences as these gave her a hold on a now often overlooked dimension of performance art.

Sometimes our best ideas are born when we least expect it. Helena relates that just such an occasion gave rise to the act that put her into the Guinness Book of World Records and earned her quite a bit more than Mr. Warhol's touted 15 minutes of fame. The famous act involves first flipping a dollar bill in the crease of her belly. Then she proceeds to lay out a row of nine quarters across her tummy just below her navel. Using her belly muscles, she flips the quarters; twice up and down, one at a time, and finally every other one! When asked how this came about, Helena takes us back to a performance in 1968 at the People Tree in Calabasas, California. Since Helena had taught herself to perform belly rolls while reclining with her arms propping her up, she incorporated the position into the belly roll segment of her act. Naturally, appreciative patrons would shower her with tips as she performed. Then on this particular night, a customer placed a bill right where it caught perfectly in her belly fold, causing the note to flip neatly over. The crowd went wild! Helena realized that here was something really great she could add to her show. With her typical determined attitude, she began to practice the act in her spare time. At first she worked only with the bill, but then thought, why not give coins a try. After experimenting with various coins, she settled on quarters as working the best for her. Years of persistence finally led to her mastery of an incredible nine coin row, a feat that hasn't been matched since.

Helena enjoyed the five years she spent in Houston, where she danced at the “Bacchanal Restaurant”and opened "Helena's School of belly Dance". It was heralded in the local press. Students came eagerly. When Helena moved yet again, this time to Austin she handed the operation of the school over to her much-beloved second protégé (first protégé was Dahad Elias), the beautiful Mahal. Here again, she opened a school, but this time on a smaller, part-time basis. Success came again, and yet again she grew restless.

The lure of her beloved Los Angeles holds sway over Helena, and in 1978 she returned to work at the Athenian Gardens. It was in L.A. in 1981 that a good friend spread the buzz to the local media about Helena's Nine Quarters act. The description of her feat got the attention of Regis Philbin, who at the time hosted the local morning chat show, A.M. Los Angeles. Soon a phone call came inviting her to appear on the show and perform her act. Though naturally terrified, her performance instinct triumphed, and our Helena made her first TV appearance. The act was such a hit with the Hollywood crowd that media greats started scrambling to get Helena on their shows. A flurry of television spots followed; first, The Merv Griffin Show, then The Mike Douglas Show, That's Incredible!, Here's Richard (Richard Simmons), Thicke of the Night, Regis Philbin Healthstyles, and finally Spectacular World of Guinness Records. Also to follow was a nice cameo role in an episode of Dynasty, plus a spot appearance in the Allan Carr film "Can't Stop the Music".

In 1990 Helena moved to Phoenix, Arizona. For the first fourteen years Helena worked as an Assistant Manager in a restaurant. At that time because of her grueling work schedule, she could only dance and teach twice a week. She finally decided that she needed to do what she loves best. To dance and teach full time and that is exactly what she is doing now. Helena believes… “To Dance Is Divine”. By Norma Westover

ASHANA HANADAAshana Hanada, Workshop Leader, Belly Dance Jazz Fusion, Celebrity Judge
Ashana is on the executive judging panel for the Bellydancer of the Universe™ annually.

Ashana Hanada, MFA Dance, is full-time Dance faculty at MiraCosta College in Oceanside, CA. Her Master’s thesis focused on The Technique and Aesthetic of Middle Eastern Danse Orientale. Ashana’s extensive experience as a teacher, choreographer, performer, and director encompass a variety of dance styles and techniques, including jazz, ballet, modern, ballroom, and Le Danse Orientale. Professional credits include Equity principal roles in A Chorus Line and The King and I, and choreography for opera, musical theater, and world dance forms. Ashana has been a presenter for regional, national and international dance conferences.

Fatima and Jamilla Al Wahid

Celebrity Judges Jamilla Al Wahid, Middle Eastern Dancer

Photo of Jamilla Al Wahid, on right.

Fatima and Jamilla Al Wahid have been involved in the Middle Eastern Dance World since 1981. Fatima, owner of Fatima's Bazaar, is also a prominent vendor in the community traveling through the U.S to vend and teach Folkloric and Raks Sharki, Fatima's authentic style, grace and enthusiasm for the dance
makes her a sought after teacher and performer. Jamilla started in the dance as a child learning from and with her mother now Jamilla teaches her unique style of Raks Sharki through out the U.S and has been residing in Los Angeles for the past two years.

Fatima Al Wahid, of Fatima's Bazaar, Belly DancerFATIMA AL WAHID is a prominent Middle Eastern Dance vendor, instructor and sponsor. Born In Africa, Fatima has always had the dance in her heart, being introduced to the dance by her father's native home, the Sudan.

After over 20 years in the medical field, Fatima retired and decided to teach, travel and vend. She planted her feet in Sacramento and opened Fatima's Bazaar & Cultural Dance Studio. Fatima travels the world teaching and vending, and manages to spread heartfelt feeling for the dance wherever she goes.

Fatima Al Wahid, photo left.


Web Site:

Mésmera: Celebrity Judge
Mesmera, International Dance Star
International Dance Star, Mésmera has received awards, been in Movies and TV shows, appeared in "TIME" Magazine, "InStyle," "L.A. Weekly" and countless bellydance magazines.

She is known for her mesmerizing passion and graceful precision. Spinning her veils through film and TV credits, celebrity events, classes, performances, seminars, festivals, video productions, and directing her troupe, has refined her inspiring talent, adding depth and intent.

Mesmera, Bellydancer, Teacher, PerformerThe captivating clarity of her style matches her articulate teaching expertise, generating numerous star performers, dozens of instructors and waves of enthusiastic dancers. Learning with Mésmera is fun, with far-reaching benefits. She encourages freedom of movement and imagination in dance as a paradigm for creative living.

Drawing from archetypes, geometry, anatomy, history, literature, Deities, colors, animals and Nature, she presents technique with awareness and Spirit, activating vitality, presence and beauty to empower her students.

Surpassing her award-winning instructional VHS/DVDs, Mésmera researched in Africa, visiting several tribes and exotic locations to produce "Afrika: Mother of Dance", her two-part performance classic. The thrilling visuals inspire many to join her adventure seminars in Africa, Peru and Brazil. Respected for dynamic charisma onstage and genuine warmth in class, the dance community acknowledges her as an innovative resource who artfully ignites a moving experience for audiences and students alike. That's why her name is Mésmera.

Mesmera, Dancing at the Speed of Delight!

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Anisa, Celebrity JudgeANISA
Celebrity Judge

Owner of Anisa's School of Dance in Sherman Oaks and Director/Choreographer of the award-winning Orientale/Beledy Dance Troupe, Anisa has been teaching belly dance since 1974, focusing on old Egyptian style. 

She just returned from teaching and performing in Egypt at Raqia Hassan's Ahlan wa Sahlan Festival. 

Anisa, the recipient of many awards, sponsors tours to Egypt and Turkey, and is the Producer of the annual event, "King Tut Returns." 

She has been a judge for BDUC for many years.

She was named "Best Belly Dance Instructor" by the New Times. Anisa has also been celebrated in Entertainment Today and Shape Magazine. She is the Director & Choreographer of the Orientale/Beledy Dance Troupe and has been teaching the art of Belly Dancing since 1974. Anisa conducts workshops and master classes, has appeared on TV and in movies, and has produced an instructional video, "Belly Dance with Anisa 2000."

In 2004 Anisa received the coveted "Lifetime Achievement Award" at Tonya & Atlantis' "Belly Dancer of the Universe" competition, and Anisa's Orientale/Beledy Dance Troupe won "Belly Dancer of the Universe" in the group category 2005. Anisa also organizes and participates in dance tours to Egypt and Turkey and is producer of the annual Halloween Belly Dance Show "King Tut Returns."

Visit her Website:

Marta Schill, BellydancerMarta Schill: Celebrity Judge

Marta is on the executive judging panel for the Bellydancer of the Universe™ annually.

MARTA SCHILL’s involvement in Middle Eastern Arts began as a musician, exploring Turkish songs and rhythms, quickly evolving into a fascination for all the Middle Eastern dance arts.  After years of study, Marta went on to become a consummate professional dance artist, performing in the cabarets of California during the genesis of ‘Bellydance’ in America. She later performed throughout the United States, Canada, Europe and the Middle East. 

Ms. Schill is the co-author of  “The Compleat Belly Dancer,” a book that became a national best-seller published by Doubleday & Co., as well as two sequels; “The Finishing Touch” and “The Teachers Guide.”  She also co-authored and starred in “How to Bellydance,” a videodisc produced by MCI (Universal Studios) as well as writing and producing an instructional video tape titled “Belly Dance: Fine Art of the East.” 

Marta Schill is one of the founders of the Middle Eastern Culture and Dance Association, founded in 1977, a national non-profit communications organization dedicated to promoting Near- and Mid-Eastern music and dance.  In this capacity, she created the Cairo Carnivale, now one of the foremost ethnic dance festivals in the Los Angeles area.

Ms. Schill is currently the Vice President as well as the Managing Editor of the Cymbal Digest magazine, MECDA’s feature publication. 

Marta has created choreography for such stars as Bar bra Streisand and Dinah Shore, and acted in and created dance routines for “Barbra Streisand and Other Musical Instruments,”“Maid to Order,” “Young and the Restless” and “Alive and Well.”  She has conducted seminars and shows throughout the United States, instructing in the Turkish and Egyptian styles of Middle Eastern dance arts.  She is also credited with creating the beautiful modern style of circular veil technique. 

Many of the major productions of Danse Orientale in Southern California bear the influence of Marta Schill’s production skills.  One of her many goals is to present the extraordinary beauty and creativity of Mid-Eastern music and dance to the general public. 

Marta Schill’s future aspirations include bringing the American Middle East dance community and the ethnic Mid-Eastern Americans together, to celebrate the connections we share; the love of a rich culture, and an infatuation with the modern direction of music and dance from this very creative region of the world.

AISHA ALI - Celebrity Judge
Aisha Ali, dance ethnologist and internationally acclaimed expert on North African and Egyptian dance, has performed in Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco and Tunisia, as well as many parts of Europe and the Pacific Rim.  Over the years she frequently appeared with the Banat Mazin, a well-known family of Ghawazee, dancing at weddings and celebrations in Upper Egypt. In Tunisia, Aisha was a featured soloist at the Municipal Theater in Sfax and traveled through Algeria to observe the Ouled Naïl, a tribal group famous for their dancing women.

In addition to her many appearances on national television news, talk shows, sitcoms, and MTV, Aisha performed for many years in nightclubs, cultural festivals and on college campuses in the United States.  She has been inducted into the New York AAMED, Middle Eastern Dancers Hall of Fame, and was an honored speaker/performer at the 2nd International Conference on Middle Eastern Dance at Orange Coast College. As a featured soloist she represented the Middle East and North Africa at the Los Angeles Festival, was featured in the 2003 Conference on North African Dance at Cornell University and often serves as a panelist for the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival Auditions.

Aisha's field studies began in 1971 when she traveled to the Middle East to observe first hand traditional styles of dances rarely seen in the United States. Many subsequent visits to Egypt and North Africa followed in order to collect folkloric materials that were fast disappearing.

As a result of her efforts, through her production company ARAF, she has produced six audio CDs of traditional Arab music and several films of native folk dances. Her DVD productions include the videos "Dances of Egypt," an intimate study of performers and their environments throughout the Egyptian countryside, "Dances of North Africa," covering dances of Morocco and Tunisia, and "Dancing with Aisha, Vol. 1," an instructional video on Tunisian dance.

A two-volume DVD entitled "Aisha Dances" featuring her performances of 16 genres of dance from Egypt and the Arab World has also been released. Her documentaries "Dances of North Africa Vol. II – Algeria and Libya" and "A Saidi Wedding", as well as the CD Music of the Ghawazee Vol. II, are presently in work and scheduled for release in 2008. 

Visit her website at


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Maruschka, San Diego Belly Dancer MARUSHKA
Celebrity Judge

Marushka has served the belly dance community for more than 15 years.

She founded SAMEDA, the San Diego Area Middle Eastern Dance Association, in 1986. SAMEDA is a major dance organization that sponsors local dance events and serves as an information network through its monthly newsletter.

Marushka sees the belly dance as a graceful expression of mind, body and spirit. She is excited to be judging again this year in a venue that so beautifully displays how much the belly dance is evolving and growing.

Marushka has been a regular judge in the Belly Dancer of the Universe Competition since its inception.

Celebrity Judge

Princess Farhana is an internationally acclaimed Oriental dancer who has been performing , teaching and writing about belly dance for sixteen years. Trained by the greats in the classical Egyptian raks sharqi style , the Princess has put her own stamp on the dance and is well-known as a theatrical, high-concept fusion performer. Her impeccable technique and dramatic interpretation, and specialties in balancing props and her outrageous , seemingly impossible abdominal work are her unique trademarks.

Her Majesty has been featured in numerous motion pictures, television shows and in documentary films both dancing and as an interview subject.
Recently, she choreographed the sword dancing sequence for the motion picture “Charlie Wilson’s War” starring Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts. Her video work is extensive, including appearances in videos by Madonna and Ricky Martin.She is a regular contributor to Habibi Magazine, Jareeda, Zaghareet,and , and has written about Oriental dance in many mainstream publications as well. She has produced a number of dance events, as well as seven instruction / performance DVD’s. Her warmth, enthusiasm and adventurous spirit - on and off stage- captivates audiences and students alike.


Ninah Sahar, San Diego, CA - Celebrity Judge

Ninah Sahar, Belly Dancer
Ninah is the director of the highly acclaimed Blue Lotus Dance Company, recipient of Sarneda Lifetime Achievement Award, first Oriental Dancer to be accepted to perform in the prestigious Nations International Dance Festival. Co-producer of the Marrakesh Festival, recipient of 1999 Sameda Teacher of the year award, Producer and featured performer of "Magical Motion" Instructional video by Atea. Ninah's ongoing research and study have gained her a nearly encyclopedic of knowledge of Oriental and Regional Folkloric Dances of North Africa and the Near and Middle East.

Ninah offers beginning-master level instruction in Oriental and Folkloric dances at her studio in San Diego California. Drumming with Dancing, Sword, Stick, unique Shamanic dance class, Specialty workshops and Chinese energetic healing are also very popular. The clarity of her teaching style and sense of humor have made her a favorite instructor with students and professionals.

Her solo performances are always exciting, whether it's an unbelievably challenging Sword Dance, a Moroccan Tea Dance with a tray as big as a coffee table or a Drum Solo that rocks the house.

Blue Lotus Dance CompanyAs the Director and Choreographer of Blue Lotus Dance Company Ninah produces shows that are culturally informative, beautiful and fun for western audiences and very appreciated by ethnic audiences. The Company repertoire includes regional dances from Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Arabian Peninsula, Turkey, as well as Fusion and Live numbers for a little extra fun. Blue Lotus Dance Company has been performing in the International dance community since 1993 They have been accepted to participate in Nations International Dance Festival for many years, were special guest performers in IDA Statewide International Dance Event, have been invited to dance at numerous cultural, College and University Events and also received 1999 Sameda Dance Troup of the Year. She has been on the BDUC judging panel since its inception.

Contact Ninah at 619 561 5675.

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