Mahira (Margaret Slocombe) is Origins' artistic director. She has been part of the New England belly dance community for over thirty years, first as a performer and then as a vendor of belly dance costumes, music, and accessories. Vending has given her many opportunities to travel and meet new people. Mahira has studied with many well-known teachers, including Morwenna Assaf, Bert Balladine, and Amaya of New Mexico. Mahira recently retired from a long career as a second-grade teacher, which probably prepared her well for her current position with Origins.
Namid (Karen Kempskie-Aquino) has been dancing since she was a young girl and became involved with Middle-Eastern dance in the late 1970s. After taking a long hiatus, she once again found Middle-Eastern dance in 2003. She has studied with Brooke Bishara, Katia of Boston, and Amar Gamal. She is a founding member of Origins Folkloric Dance Company and loves the joy and camaraderie of being involved in a troupe.
Shalimar (Robin Kelsey) is well-known throughout New England as a student, instructor, performer, and choreographer of Middle-Eastern dance. Based in Hartford, CT, she is the founder of the “Belly Dance Connection” event, previously held monthly at the Marco Polo Restaurant in East Hartford. She was also the director of the award-winning Troupe Little Egypt for many years. "I am in constant flow with the energy of the music and my passion for this dance never ceases. It’s been in my blood and soul for the past 42 years and I enjoy giving back to my audience what this dance has given to me. It makes me feel alive and it has to be the most rewarding adventure I've ever experienced!"
Zaina (Laura Lawton) is a dancer/student from CT. She first saw belly dancers perform at her high school in 1976 and fell in love with the music and the dance. It was some time before she started taking classes with Gia, then Su’ad, and most recently for the past 20 years Shalimar. In between she has taken many, many seminars throughout New England, New York, New Jersey, and Virginia. Zaina was an original member of Troupe Little Egypt and used to run the Evening Oasis at the Buttonwood Tree with Catriona.
Caitriona (Kitti Zboray) started taking belly dance classes with Shalimar in 2002, when she fell in love with the music and the movements. She joined Shalimar's Troupe Little Egypt in 2004, and has many wonderful memories of performing with that troupe. She says that belly dance has "enhanced my life, made me happy, and made me bold."
Ann (Ann Lucas) is an assistant professor of music at Boston College. She is an ethnomusicologist and teaches classes in Arabic music.
Alizah Afet (Amy Smith) has studied belly dance for almost 25 years. She has a special interest in the history of belly dance in the Boston and New England area, and is working on a documentary about the "Nightclub Era" of belly dance in Boston. Alizah publishes Belly Dance New England, an online Web zine for the New England belly dance community.