Our Team

Donna Mejia

CU Boulder’s Associate Professor Donna Mejia is a member of the Theatre & Dance Department, and the Inaugural Chancellor’s Scholar of Health and Wellness for the Crown Wellness Institute. She is also affiliate faculty for Women & Gender Studies, Ethnic Studies, and the Center for Teaching & Learning. She is the first tenured faculty globally for Transcultural Fusion Dance (TcFD), a hybrid tradition that dialogs dances of the African and Arab Diasporas with American Hip Hop and Contemporary Dance. Her 40 years of study in yoga, meditation and somatic studies continue to be central in all that she does. Her scholarship, performances, and advocacy work in TcFD created a cascade of decolonization actions and language in the genre, and she was awarded a 2021 Legends of Dance Award by the Carson Dance Library. Donna’s scholarship merging the study of cultural retention, colonial imperialism, gender representation, and digital globalization received the 2011 Selma Jean Cohen Fulbright Honor for International Dance Scholarship. This interdisciplinary work and her performances, approached through the vantage point of her multi-heritage identity, have inspired connections to many astonishing people and fields of study, taken her around the world, instigated a life-long devotion to learning, and inspired her efforts towards upliftment of others through education. Donna’s private projects include directing the philanthropic efforts of The Sovereign Collective, directing the Gather at the Delta Initiative, collaborating with her research partner Dr. Valerie Joseph, designing electronic music, sewing, curating art-infused works and environments, and writing.
For more information about her publications, performances, awards, and endeavors, please visit: donnainthedance.com

Brittney Laleh Banaei is a second year MFA Dance Candidate and a part-time Graduate Instructor at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Her secondary emphasis are Somatics and International Law. Brittney holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance with a minor in Middle Eastern Studies from Missouri State University. Brittney’s main performance experience is with traditional Raqs Sharqi and Transnational Fusion dance. Her choreographic/research questions involve the intersection of history, politics, surveillance, and culture within dance forms of Middle East and North Africa and their respective diasporas. brittneybanaei.com

Joanna Ashleigh is a Transcultural Fusion Dance teacher and performer based in Denver, Colorado, USA. She’s studied Middle Eastern and North African folk dances and American fusions of those styles since the mid 2000’s. Always yearning for more knowledge, she sought out and completed her degree in Dance, and minor in Arabic Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder. She is also a certified Datura Style Teacher and currently serves as the Co-Artistic Director of the Gather at the Delta Initiative. She loves creating collaborative and solo works, and is passionate about dance education and ethics.

Amy Sigil is a Mover, Choreographer and Coach. She loves working with teams and novel ideas. She also enjoys bringing movement to people in a variety of settings to facilitate team building, self-understanding, and growth. My life’s work is to share movement and research that highlights frameworks and tools for group improvisation, movement sourcing, and choreography techniques.
amysigil.com

Jacqueline Westhead is a facilitator, performer, creative and author with over 25 years of experience. Her passions emerge and are steeped in her years of dance,  performance, facilitation work and her teaching which is a blend of expressive movement, voice, mind body wisdom and witnessing practices to cultivate awareness, connection and personal growth. Jacqueline continues to study to expand her understanding of humanity, her work, and the role it plays in our evolving world. She is motivated by the active exploration of Awareness, Curiosity and Kindness and how these support us to dismantle oppressive systems and grow our essential personal superpower of Love. If you want to learn more, she published a book called Touching the Invisible: A Field Guide for Living. You can also check out her website  soundbodywisdom.com.

Liz Azi is a dancer and professional researcher holding a Masters of Anthropology from the University of Colorado Denver. Her work involves designing participatory methods and storytelling practices to amplify the stories of community members and centering equity and social justice in her work. She is deeply interested in movement as a private practice and as an expression of culture and humanity. Before finding the world of Raqs Sharqi and regional MENATH dances, she was steeped in circus and vaudeville movement traditions, and she is forever curious about all the ways in which people around the world move together.  She brings her anthropological approach to dance, with a focus on history, culture, and contextualization to inform her movement while also exploring modern archetypes, evocative presentations, and the liminal spaces between historical and contemporary dance aesthetics.

lizazidance.com

Former Design Team Member & Sponsor of the 2021 Colloquium

Terri Allred is the co-owner of the Belly Dance Business Academy, creator of FCBD-Style with Veil and co-producer of Reunion, an annual belly dance festival.  She brings her life-long career in the sexual assault and domestic violence movement, nonprofit and small business management and degree in feminist theology to her work in the belly dance community. She has studied many forms of belly dance and is currently pursuing certification in Fly Fusion, created by Violet Kind. She lives in Rochester MN with her family and dogs, Phoebe and Mojo. beyonddancebusinessacademy.com