The Company

Mahira (Margaret Slocombe)

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.

Angela (Angela Clayton) is a dancer in the Boston area, and travels throughout New England for both performance opportunities and dance education. As a small child, she was inspired by her amazing aunt, the Great Amera, watching her perform at many Boston area venues. For years she dreamed of dancing like her aunt, and finally realized her dream in 2006. She started her training with Latin and ballroom dancing, and quickly moved into her love, raqs sharqi, as well as various styles of folkloric dance from the Middle East and North Africa. Angela has primarily studied with Katia of Boston, and has taken classes with  Amar Gamal, Elena Lentini, Morwenna Assaf, and Yousry Sharif.

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!"

Alizah Afet (Amy Smith)



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. 

Sabah (Shari Stahl) has studied belly dance and yoga for many years, and teaches Middle-Eastern dance classes in central Vermont. Following her love of Middle Eastern Dance (belly dance), also know as raqs sharqi, Sabah trained extensively with internationally acclaimed Katia of Boston. Travels to Egypt, Morocco, and most recently, Istanbul have enhanced Sabah’s cultural perspective and respect for the historic roots of Middle-Eastern dance. Currently on sabbatical while she takes on yoga teacher training, Sabah divides her time between Vermont and Cape Cod.  

Rianna el Helwa has been performing as a professional Oriental dancer in the Boston area since 2008. She has studied with many of the area’s living legends including Melina (Daughters of Rhea), known for her spirited Greco-Turkish style, and Katia of Boston, who is renowned for her classical Oriental form and passion for folkloric dance.

Ma'isah is a Boston-based belly dancer and award-winning choreographer known for her stage presence, elegance, and earthy sensuality.  She fell in love with this art form through its music. Her passion is evident in each performance, infusing her dance with emotion and personality that she shares readily with her audience. Ma'isah has loved to dance since she was a little girl, but it wasn't until she discovered Oriental dance in 2004 that she found her voice, and herself, within the dance.  While her study has centered on Egyptian raqs sharqi and native folkloric dances of the North African and Levant regions, Ma'isah appreciates all forms of Middle-Eastern dance and has also studied Turkish, Lebanese, American cabaret, and Rom dance forms. There's nothing Ma'isah loves more than to share the art and emotion of this dance form with her audience, and to help educate and promote awareness of this often-misunderstood performance art.

Mikaela (Tina Soderman)

Mikaela started dancing as a young girl, but took a long hiatus as these early dance forms never really resonated with her. It wasn’t until she started taking classes in raqs sharqi in 2008 that she found her passion in dance. She has studied various forms of bellydance, including (but not limited to) Egyptian, Turkish, tribal, and gothic Oriental.  She currently studies with Phaedra of Boston and Aurel; past instructors include Riena, Sabrina of Boston, Tempest, and Dina Laduke, among others. She is currently a professional Oriental dancer in the Boston and Providence areas.