“Let go of what is left or right, and lead with your heart.” That is Lisa’s approach to Middle Eastern/North African dance. Her love story with the dance began in 2000 at Footworks Dance Company in Grand Rapids, with American Cabaret/Fusion style. Unfulfilled by the rules of Western styling, her focus slowly shifted to Egyptian-style Raqs Sharqi. In 2011 she began to take workshops exclusively with Egyptian-style artists including the legendary Mahmoud Reda, along with Raqia Hassan, Dina Talaat, Tito Seif, Ranya Renee, Mohamed Salah, Sorraiah Zaied, Karim Nagi and Luna of Cairo. She credits the instruction and influence of Master Teacher Yasmina Ramzy, and ultimately attending Yasmina’s Planet Egypt Tour in 2017, for generously giving her the tools to make the Belly Dance connection between mind, body and soul. Since then, Lisa has immersed herself in Egyptian customs and culture, living with the locals in New Cairo, Egypt; taking in the language, the music, the rhythm and improvisational way of life. She is recently back in the States to share what she learned while living in the Motherland, and how it impacts today’s Belly Dance.
Julie took her first middle eastern dance class at Fountain Street Church with Nai'mah of Grand Rapids back in 2003. After a few more classes at the downtown YMCA years later, she joined the Mayne Studio (now ShimmyUSA) in 2013 and studied Bollywood dance with Nai'mah, and American Bellydance and Raqs Sharqi with Sarah Mayne.
As one of the founding members of the Allspice dance troupe, she has also taken workshops with Cassandra Shore, Tarik Sultan, Jessika Cruz, Tamalyn Dahlal, and Yasmina Ramsay. During the craziness of 2020-2021 she began studying online with Yasmina and Tamalyn, and is hoping to continue learning from teachers around the globe for as long as online instruction continues. She is looking forward to sharing the joy and freedom of expression in this dance form with students.