ARABESQUE ACADEMY — Teachers
Amel Farag — Teacher
Amel Farag is a professional dance artist with over 15 years of experience, and 8 years as a student at the Arabesque Academy. She is currently a member of the Arabesque Folklore Troupe. Born and raised in Egypt, she had developed her love of dance ever since she could first walk. The love of all forms of art and dance has been in her family through generations, with family members in ballet, cello, Raqs Sharqi, tar (Egyptian frame drum), and contemporary dance. Amel's passion for Raqs Sharqi and experience in bootcamp style workouts helps her to energize and inspire others to connect with their body in a soulful and enjoyable way.
Sharleen Rivero — Teacher
Coming from a middle-eastern and Latin background, Sharleen Rivero has always been surrounded in dance. She started dancing at the age of five, and trained in various styles such as Ballet, Ballroom, Belly dancing, Contemporary, and Latin dances. She found her passion for Belly dancing at the tender age of seven when she was chosen to dance onstage alongside the belly dancer at a party. It was then that she had decided to pursue her dreams of becoming a Professional Bellydance artist. She danced and trained for various years following that night. She studied dance at York University in 2009 and 2010. After being deeply moved by the Arabesque production “OUM” in 2010, Sharleen soon joined Arabesque. Being taught by Amy Leung and Melissa Gamal throughout the years. In 2014 she became a part of Arabesque Dance Company where she continues to train at an advanced level under the artistic direction of Yasmina Ramzy, where she also currently teaches. She has also been featured in multiple performances across the GTA, including cultural events, shows at the Harbourfront Centre Stage with Arabesque Dance Academy, performing at private corporate events, and being an understudy for the opening ceremonies with Cirque du Soleil for the 2015 Pan/Para PanAm Games. Sharleen has completed various bellydance courses including the Master-Pro course. She has been coached and taken workshops with various artists such as Luna of Cairo, Jeff Dimitriou, Robert Desrosier, Modrite Dimza, and many more. Sharleen continues to study and practice her forms of dance.
Amy — Senior Teacher
Amy Leung is a Toronto based dance artist. As a lead dancer in Arabesque Dance Company & Orchestra, her highlight performances are with Cirque du Soleil in the Pan Am Opening Ceremony, on the Gala Stage of the International Bellydance Conference of Canada and in Arabesque productions of NOOR, JAMRA, and SAWAH at Fleck Dance Theatre. Amy's professional training is with Yasmina Ramzy having started with Judy Reynolds and Roula Said. In addition to her regular training, she has taken workshops with international artists including Dina, Fifi Abdou, Mahmoud Reda, Sahra Saeeda, Raqia Hassan and Luna of Cairo. Amy is a senior instructor at Arabesque Academy, rehearsal coach for the Arabesque Student Troupe and a sought out solo artist in the Toronto area known for her Arab nuance and emotional range.
Shari — Senior Teacher
Shari was first inspired to learn the art of Bellydance in 2004, and promptly began taking classes at Arabesque Academy with teachers Yasmina Ramzy, Mary Cabral and Denise Mireau. Since then, she has had the opportunity to explore a wider variety of Middle Eastern Dance styles, and learn from such teachers as Mahmoud Reda, Aida Nour, Sahra Saeeda, and Cassandra Shore. Through her post-graduate work in Sociology and Equity Studies, she developed a deeper appreciation for Bellydance as a valuable expression of femininity, power, and resistance. Shari has been a Teacher and Dance Artist with Arabesque since 2010, and has enjoyed performing regularly at various events around Toronto, including Arabesque's recent productions "Noor", "Jamra" and "Sawha".
Shadia Saad — Teacher
Shadia is a Toronto-based dance artist of Egyptian descent and a lead dancer in Arabesque Dance Company & Orchestra. Her professional training has been with Yasmina Ramzy and senior Arabesque instructors. Shadia's leading performances include the Pan Am Games Opening Ceremony with Cirque du Soleil, celebrity Vanessa Williams' wedding, the International Bellydance Conference of Canada, ADCO Canadian tour in Vancouver and Whitehorse and Arabesque productions NOOR, JAMRA and SAWAH at Fleck Dance Theatre. Shadia is a senior instructor at Arabesque Academy. As a solo artist, Shadia is highly recognized for her dynamic presence, audience engagement and Arab nuance.
Riviera — Teacher
A Toronto based dance artist, Riviera is a member of the acclaimed Arabesque Dance Company & Orchestra. She began training in Middle Eastern dance at the age of 15. Riviera has studied extensively with Yasmina Ramzy, Melissa Gamal, and Sarita Gayle Alvarez as well as with renowned international artists such as Raqia Hassan, Saida, and Luna of Cairo. She performs regularly with Arabesque throughout Ontario including the prestigious Opening Ceremony of the Pan Am Games choreographed by Cirque du Soleil and Dance Ontario Dance Weekend at Fleck Dance Theatre. Celebrated for her fluid musicality, Riviera shares her passion and expertise as an instructor at Arabesque Academy.
Radi Daradzhanska — Teacher
Hailing from Bulgaria, Radi is a now a member of Arabesque Dance Company and a teacher at Arabesque Academy as well as a soloist at Toronto Arab events. She was drawn to Middle Eastern dance at age eight but began training at age 14. Her dance training has been at Arabesque Academy, primarily under the tutelage of Yasmina Ramzy as well as its other instructors Melissa Gamal, Sarita, Nikki Gentles, Shari, and Amy Leung. Radi has also sought further training with masters in Europe and North and South America. She was a founding member of the Arabesque Student Troupe. In 2014, Radi was chosen to apprentice with Arabesque Dance Company and subsequently performed in Dance Ontario Dance Weekend, the Cirque du Soleil Pan Am Opening Ceremonies and Harbourfront. She has recently begun training for the Arabesque Agency.
Tim Spronk — Lead Dancer
Tim is a dancer, choreographer, and dance instructor. He began training at the Alberta Ballet School and received his Bachelor of Arts at the York University as a Dance Major. Having since joined the Newton Moraes Dance Company, Tim has performed in Montreal, Toronto, Germany, and Brazil. He has danced with the Free Flow Dance Company, William Yong Dance Company, Kaeja d' Dance and is a prominent member of Arabesque Dance Company. Tim is a founding member of The Chimera Project and has appeared in all of it's productions. Tim's choreographic work was performed in fFida 1998 and 1999, ResiDance, and the Launch Pad.
Kevork Guerguerian — Dumbek
Kevork Guerguerian, born in 1965 in sacred Egypt (land of ageless wisdom and mystery) to Armenian parents.
At a very early age, he began to study Latin percussion sounds and African rhythms. He has studied over the past 25 years across Canada with well-known teachers who've inspired him to bring the basic ground skills of musical and rhythmic communication to organizations and communities.
His extensive background in adult education has provided him the necessary tools to design and facilitate learning for corporate events, leadership workshops, professional growth and personal relationships.
Kevork has created a company called Hands of Rhythm and has a passion to share the platform of drum circle facilitation to help others build team capacity and learning and development in their organizations and institutions.
Jade Atallah — Dumbek
Jade was born in Dbayeh, Lebanon in 1981. Raised in a household passionate about music, she discovered her energy for the Doumbek (Derbakkeh in Lebanese) in her late teens with her 2 younger sisters. They enjoyed the instrument but never developed their skills professionally. Jade moved to Canada at the age of 19. While pursuing her higher education, her excitement for the Doumbek grew stronger both on the musical and cultural level. In 2010 "decision made", Jade joined classes with Doumbek genius Suleiman Warwar at Arabesque Academy. Since then, she has performed with Arabesque at several venues, and is currently teaching Doumbek level 2 at Arabesque Academy, and levels 1 and 2 at St. Charbel School Mississauga. Jade continues to expand her Doumbek skills at Arabesque Academy, and is ecstatic to be learning and performing the music that she loves alongside other musicians.
Dr. George Sawa — Qanoon, Naye, Theory, History
George Sawa was born in Alexandria , Egypt in 1947. He studied Classical Arabic music at the Higher Institute of Arabic Music specializing in qanoon, voice and theory. After immigrating to Canada in 1970, he studied ethno-musicology and obtained his doctorate in Historical Arabic Musicology at the University of Toronto. He has taught medieval, modern and religious Middle Eastern Music at York University and the University of Toronto, and is the author of "Music Performance in Early Abbasid Era 750-932AD" published in 1989.
George Sawa has given numerous concerts and lecture demonstrations at universities, museums and art galleries in Europe and North America He has been teaching at Arabesque Academy, School of Middle Eastern Dance and Music Arts since 1995 and regularly teaches alongside Yasmina Ramzy in many dance workshops. He was awarded the 1990 Ontario Folk Arts Recognition Fellowship for his performances and lecture demonstrations on the qanoon. George served as a performer, composer and music coach in R. Murray Schafer's RA in Toronto (1983) and Holland (1985). As well as serving as the Musical Director for the Egyptian exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum, George has arranged music for and directed the musicians of the Arabesque Dance Company Orchestra since 1996 where he also plays the qanoon and naye in all of their performances.