CU Boulder’s Associate Professor Donna Mejia is a member of the Theatre & Dance Department, and the Inaugural Chancellor’s Scholar of Health and Wellness for the Crown Wellness Institute. She is also affiliate faculty for Women & Gender Studies, Ethnic Studies, and the Center for Teaching & Learning. She is the first tenured faculty globally for Transcultural Fusion Dance (TcFD), a hybrid tradition that dialogs dances of the African and Arab Diasporas with American Hip Hop and Contemporary Dance. Her 40 years of study in yoga, meditation and somatic studies continue to be central in all that she does. Her scholarship, performances, and advocacy work in TcFD created a cascade of decolonization actions and language in the genre, and she was awarded a 2021 Legends of Dance Award by the Carson Dance Library. Donna’s scholarship merging the study of cultural retention, colonial imperialism, gender representation, and digital globalization received the 2011 Selma Jean Cohen Fulbright Honor for International Dance Scholarship. This interdisciplinary work and her performances, approached through the vantage point of her multi-heritage identity, have inspired connections to many astonishing people and fields of study, taken her around the world, instigated a life-long devotion to learning, and inspired her efforts towards upliftment of others through education. Donna’s private projects include directing the philanthropic efforts of The Sovereign Collective, directing the Gather at the Delta Initiative, collaborating with her research partner Dr. Valerie Joseph, designing electronic music, sewing, curating art-infused works and environments, and writing.
For more information about her publications, performances, awards, and endeavors, please visit: donnainthedance.com
Brittney Laleh Banaei is a second year MFA Dance Candidate and a part-time Graduate Instructor at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Her secondary emphasis are Somatics and International Law. Brittney holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance with a minor in Middle Eastern Studies from Missouri State University. Brittney’s main performance experience is with traditional Raqs Sharqi and Transnational Fusion dance. Her choreographic/research questions involve the intersection of history, politics, surveillance, and culture within dance forms of Middle East and North Africa and their respective diasporas. brittneybanaei.com
Amy Sigil is a Mover, Choreographer and Coach. She loves working with teams and novel ideas. She also enjoys bringing movement to people in a variety of settings to facilitate team building, self-understanding, and growth. My life’s work is to share movement and research that highlights frameworks and tools for group improvisation, movement sourcing, and choreography techniques.
Jacqueline Westhead is a facilitator, performer, creative and author with over 25 years of experience. Her passions emerge and are steeped in her years of dance, performance, facilitation work and her teaching which is a blend of expressive movement, voice, mind body wisdom and witnessing practices to cultivate awareness, connection and personal growth. Jacqueline continues to study to expand her understanding of humanity, her work, and the role it plays in our evolving world. She is motivated by the active exploration of Awareness, Curiosity and Kindness and how these support us to dismantle oppressive systems and grow our essential personal superpower of Love. If you want to learn more, she published a book called Touching the Invisible: A Field Guide for Living. You can also check out her website soundbodywisdom.com.
Liz Azi is a dancer and professional researcher holding a Masters of Anthropology from the University of Colorado Denver. Her work involves designing participatory methods and storytelling practices to amplify the stories of community members and centering equity and social justice in her work. She is deeply interested in movement as a private practice and as an expression of culture and humanity. Before finding the world of Raqs Sharqi and regional MENATH dances, she was steeped in circus and vaudeville movement traditions, and she is forever curious about all the ways in which people around the world move together. She brings her anthropological approach to dance, with a focus on history, culture, and contextualization to inform her movement while also exploring modern archetypes, evocative presentations, and the liminal spaces between historical and contemporary dance aesthetics.
Former Design Team Member & Sponsor of the 2021 Colloquium
Terri Allred is the co-owner of the Belly Dance Business Academy, creator of FCBD-Style with Veil and co-producer of Reunion, an annual belly dance festival. She brings her life-long career in the sexual assault and domestic violence movement, nonprofit and small business management and degree in feminist theology to her work in the belly dance community. She has studied many forms of belly dance and is currently pursuing certification in Fly Fusion, created by Violet Kind. She lives in Rochester MN with her family and dogs, Phoebe and Mojo. beyonddancebusinessacademy.com
Zoë Nissen (she/they) is a metadata librarian at the University of Southern California Digital Library. Zoë’s professional passions are digital asset management, ethical resource description practices, and preserving community histories. They also have an affinity for data cleanup, as functional data is the basis of successful information access. Zoë is also an emerging dance artist in the Los Angeles area and has studied various forms of MENAHT dance since 2017. She has currently found a niche studying Turkish oryantal, Romani folkloric dance, and American fusion styles. Though their foray into MENAHT dance is relatively new, Zoë is a lifelong performer with an eclectic dance background and nearly two decades of experience as a musician. She is forever in love with the community-building power of art. (Photo by Sydney Cassatta)
April Rose is an Austin-based teacher and performer of baladi and transcultural fusion dance, frame drum, and finger cymbals. She earned a master’s degree in Culture and Performance, and a bachelor’s in Dance from the University of California at Los Angeles in 2012, where she investigated bellydance history and was trained in choreographic method as well as a variety of dance disciplines. Throughout her more than twenty years of dancing, she has been invited to teach and perform in over twenty countries. She is obsessed with helping humans to connect more with their bodies and others through rhythmic synchrony. In her online coaching program, The Cohesion Collective, April Rose teaches bellydance history, technique, choreographic composition, frame drumming, finger cymbals, pedagogy, as well as solo and group improvisation so that the dancers who work with her can make the most impact. You can learn more about her at www.AprilRose.Dance and you can work with April at www.TheCohesionCollective.com