These are the following teachers who have been invited to the Danish Open Bellydance festival 2023. Please visit our workshop page for full information about workshop topics and timetable. You can also vist our competition page with information about who will judge the competitions.
Athena Najat from Turkey/Greece will be joining us at Danish Open Bellydance for the first time.
Born in the USA, of Greek heritage, Athena Najat is currently based in Athens and Istanbul, dancing and teaching internationally.
Athena’s dance background began from childhood with years of dedicated training in Classical Ballet and Modern Dance, graduating from the famous Performing Arts High School Walnut Hill as a Dance major. Her education continued with special training at Laban Centre London and at New York University, from which she holds both a Bachelors (BA) and a masters of Arts (MA) degree in Dance & Culture (Performance Studies).
For the past tw decades, Athena Najat has been traveling the world, performing on-contract in several countries. Based in Greece, and then Turkey, she also worked with one of the most reputable entertainment agencies in the Middle East. (Lebanon, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Bahrain). She is most recognized for her performances at the best Turkish Night Entertainment stages in Istanbul, Turkey and her work as a founding member of Kazafy Troupe Greece, directed by Reda-Style dancer from Egypt, Mohammed Kazafy.
Athena has been awarded First Place prizes in International bellydance competitions throughout Europe and in Egypt and is often invited to teach workshops and judge/evaluate amateur dancers and aspiring professionals.
Instagram: @athena_najat_bellydance and @learn_bellydance
FB: Athena Najat – Oriental Dance and Athena Najat
Aleksei from Ukraine (or Oleksii Riaboshapka) is a well-known Oriental dance teacher from Ukraine. His special approach, manner and individual view of the Oriental is the result of more than twenty years of experience while working in art.
He has taught, judged and performed in 38 countries of the world. He is a teacher of many famous dancers and continues his path in this type of art.
Organizer of 18 international festivals in Ukraine and one of the founders of the most powerful organization in Ukraine for the development of oriental dance and oriental folklore — UFOD.
He will be present at Danish Open Bellydance the first time.
Rashida from Gutatemala is an amazing artistic Director, choreographer, and founder of Rashida Bellydance Academy, one of the most important and influential academies in her country for 16 years. She was a member of the Munique Neith International Ballet at the Egypt Festival in Barcelona and the EIDAC International Ballet directed by Pablo Acosta from Argentina. She graduated as a teacher and interpreter of Oriental Dance from Master Cesar Insaurralde in 2017.
November 2021 Rashida was a protagonist in the production “Wizard of Oz” casting the Wicked Witch, acting with more than 15 different nationalities. Directed by renowned dancer Jillina in Copenhagen, Denmark organized by Danish Open Bellydance.
Rashida is a General Psychologist and Vocational Labor Counselor from the San Carlos de Guatemala (USAC) University. She did her thesis with the theme: “Psychology of Oriental Dance” a scientific investigation of the anthropology and symbology of this dance in different contexts to validate the psychological and physical benefits and what elements make it a therapeutic dance.
Innovation and constant training are part of her hallmark, taking classes with the greatest exponents of oriental dance, hip hop, and jazz masters; her dance reflects the oriental spirit with influences in Latin rhythms.
Rachel Reynolds from USA/Italy is both a dancer and an actress. She has danced professionally in Los Angeles for the past 13 years, including touring with Jillina’s Bellydance Evolution since 2014 in ensemble and solo roles. She was an assistant contributing choreographer to the show “Fantasm” and to the newest production of “The Jungle Book”.
In 2018, she performed with Mario Kirlis’s band in Argentina at the opening gala show of Tucuman Bellydance Festival, and was also invited by Egyptian master teacher Ahmed Refaat to represent Italy at the World Competition “Jin Xiu Cup” in Yinchuan, China.
She has taught workshops in both Europe and USA – her fondest memory was being invited to teach her signature Fan Voi workshop in Costa Rica for Expo Bellydance 2016. She is an accomplished fusion dancer, winning fusion competitions in Denmark (Danish Open 2019), Poland, Ireland, France, and Germany.
Aside from dance, Rachel is a black belt in Wushu/Kung Fu and has worked as a fight choreographer in movies in Hollywood. She is also a professional figure skater, toured the US with “Holiday Ice Spectacular” and has won the U.S. Adult National Championship in 2017. She holds a Diploma in Flute from the Colburn School of Music of Los Angeles and has recently started studying tabla.
Laura Zaray from Finland, is a versatile dance artist focusing in Oriental Dance, MENAT folklore and fusion for over 20 years. She is the leader of Zaray Dancers & Jawahir dance teams, member of Enkidu dance company, trainer at prestigious CATT teacher training program and performer at several Bellydance Evolution productions. She has also performed twice in Egypt, Library of Alexandria together with the Reda Troupe at Mahmoud Reda shows both as a soloist and as a group member.
Laura has gathered her knowledge throughout the years, participating in international productions both as a performer and a director. In this project she welcomes everyone who is interested to focus & improve, in a friendly and supportive environment taking their artistry to the next level!
Noura from Denmark is a well-known dancer and teacher in Denmark – a dancer with her own style and a love for live music and improvisation. She has taught students in oriental dance and percussion for over 15 years. She loves the variation which the oriental dance offers and believes she will never stop learning new things about the dance.
We have had the honour of enjoying Noura on the Danish Open Bellydance gala show stage many times both as a soloist, in duets and with troupes. In the last couple of years we have been able to enjoy her so called Project X with dancers from all over Denmark in our Taste of the Orient show.
This year, she will give a workshop at the festival and experience a new project with dancers from all over. Together with Merrild, Noura has been organizing Danish Open Bellydance festival since 2012.
Suzzane Sofie Potempa from Denmark is of Polish descent. The music has been a part of her life since childhood. Nevertheless, she was educated as a nurse, and she has continuously been educated in physical exercise and health.
When she started bellydancing in 1986, it was like finding her place in life with the dance and music from the Middle East. She loves the feeling of playing music with her body, conveying the culture and teaching the diverse and beautiful movements of oriental dance. Since 1992 she has organized larger and smaller cultural events with dance and music since e. g. in Pumpehuset, in the Culture House Union. She lived in Crete in the summer of 8 years, where she taught and performed dance. In 2017 Suzzane started teaching a Diploma in oriental dance in Denmark. In 2018, Suzzane was the Danish judge at the international festival in DK – “Danish Open Bellydance 2018”. Suzzane´s dance school “School for Oriental Dance” in Copenhagen celebrated it´s 30 years anniversary in 2021.
Suzzane is in the Middle Eastern culture in it´s everyday life. Since 1997 she has worked on “health, physical exercise and integration” for weak immigrant and refugee women. The results she has achieved are so unique, that they have been used in research at the University of Copenhagen and in the Nordic countries.”
Marie Møller Jensen from Denmark is a well-known dancer and dance instructor in Denmark and a familiar face at Danish Open Bellydance. She has won our Soloist competition category several times and has also entertained us as our Gala Show hostess on Friday nights for the past couple of years. She won the live music competition at Camp Negum in Cairo, Egypt (dancing to the wonderful Fer’et Negum band lead by Safaa Farid) in 2019 and is known for her authentic Egyptian expression, soulful style and skillful musical interpretation.
Marie loves to soak up Egyptian culture, language and -not least- dance inspiration in Cairo. Her interest in the diverse socio-historical and cultural aspects of the dance, the Cairo bellydance scene and Egyptian music inspires her teaching in which she emphasizes these aspects in addition to thorough instruction in the physical movement patterns of the dance
AB Tønnesen from Denmark is well known in the Danish belly dance enviroment. She has been dancing for almost 30 years in groups and as a solo dancer in different genres. In the resent years she has been developing an interrest for pole dance and contortion. It has been amazing to see her transformation from not so flexibel to doing the splits and front splits on a pole and as floor work. AB as taught several bachelorette parties and has (almost) finished her pole instructor licence.
Bilal Irshed from Palestine is a composer and oud virtuoso living in Denmark, where he is widely recognized as one of the finest interpreters of classical Middle Eastern music.
Bilal has released several albums both contaning modern original and traditional music, mainly from the Arab world, skillfully demonstrating the spirit, but also the variety, within Middel Eastern music.
Bilal Irshed will be our band leader for our band playing for the dancers who participate in our professionel competition category “Soloists live”.
This year you will besides Bilal Irshed on oud see an amazing set of musicians….
Bilal will also give a workshop at the festival.
Khader Ahmad from Germany/Lebanon will be joining us at Danish Open Bellydance for the third time and will be playing live music in the competition ‘Tabla Solo Live’. He will also give a workshop, allowing dancers to learn more about how to dance to live tabla music.
Khader Ahmad was born in Lebanon, but raised in Berlin, Germany. He has worked with many famous oriental dancers and musicians and his clear and brilliant way of playing along with a unique sensibility have made him a highly sought-after percussionist. He has worked with popular Arabic singers and musicians such as Ahmed Adaweya, Mohammed Mounir, Cheb Khaled and the legend Magdy Al Husseini. In 2012, he founded the band “RAQSA”, specializing in Oriental dance music. In 2014, he started a project named “DUM TAK Revolution” with Felix Neumann, which combines traditional Arabic music with modern electronic pop, shaabi and belly dance. The project based in Berlin first released the “DUM TAK Revolution Vol.1” featuring Alla Kushnir and in collaboration with Jillina. Since then, the second album “DUM TAK Revolution Vol.2” has also been released. The third album “DUM TAK Revolution Vol.3” in collaboration with Sadie was released in June 2016. in 2017, Khader started a new music project named “Oriental Beats”.