Donna

I don’t remember when I first started to dance but I attended my first ballet class at the age of two. I only went to keep my older cousin company but she soon gave up and I was hooked.

I carried on learning ballet through my school years, adding Tap, Scottish and some Ballroom to my repertoire. I studied Classical Ballet with the Royal Academy of Dance.

Nursing career

I trained in Bristol and qualified as a Registered General Nurse. During this time I tried out several other dance styles including: Afro-Caribbean, jazz and American jazz tap.

I continued to attend ballet workshops at The Jacobs Wells Dance Centre in Hotwells, Bristol, where I learned from a variety of dance teachers, including a former member of the Moscow Ballet.

I spent some months traveling in Iran and became very interested in the culture and music of that part of the world.

Fitness instructor

While in in Osnabruck Germany I trained with Lexie Griffiths (Reebok Master Trainer) and qualified on her course as a Fitness and Exercise Teacher with the International Aerobic Championship Organisation (RSA equivalent). I taught classes and workshops in Army bases.

Dance teacher

Soon after my introduction to Middle Eastern Dance (MED) I began twice weekly classes with additional workshops in various styles including folk, Turkish, Egyptian and North African. I have attended workshops run by internationally renowned teachers, including Paulette Rees-Denis, of Gypsy Caravan, Oregon, USA, Leila Haddad of Paris, Hossam and Serena Ramzy and Juliana Brustik ( Raks Shaki Society UK).

I now run various workshops in the Midlands area, throughout the UK and Europe. I work with fitness centres, universities and colleges. I am a full member of Equity, insured through Equity’s insurance scheme and I hold a public performance license, to play recorded music.

Cabaret style belly dance

The cabaret style I teach is eclectic influenced by the MED teachers I have learnt with and elements of my earlier dance background. Where possible, I teach in a cultural context, providing information to students on Middle-Eastern music and culture, encouraging students to learn from a variety of sources and teachers. My aim is for students to have fun and to develop the confidence to explore their own style. It’s what MED is all about. Classes are technique-based and simple choreography is used to reinforce technique. Students are encouraged to progress to developing their own choreography or improvised dance.

ATS & World Fusion

After a year with a community Tribal Fusion Troupe, based in Walsall, performing at various events throughout the Midlands, I found the choreographed aspect of tribal fusion too restrictive and left in 2003 in order to develop in the improvised style, American Tribal Style (ATS), pioneered by Carolena Nericcio and FatChance BellyDance.

I have studied ATS, a fusion of Khatak, Flamenco and Arabian forms with Wendy Marlatt of FatChance BellyDance and am a member of Rashani International Tribal Bellydance Troupe, an international collaboration of Fatchance and Gypsy Caravan trained dancers.

In 2005 I travelled to San Francisco for intensive training with Carolena Nericcio founder/director of FatChance BellyDance, the first UK dance teacher to have done this. In 2006 Carolena introduced the FCBD General Skills Certificate. I hope to pass on the skills and knowledge gained while there. I continue to strive to improve my dance and update my skills and knowledge, attending various workshops and training throughout the UK and abroad. I continue weekly classes in Flamenco with Rosa Serrano of Madrid.

The FatChance format is now my focus for ATS teaching but Pedralta continues to develop new avenues of Improvised World Fusion with strong Flamenco influences and adding Saaidi stick dance to the mix.

"Remember that the nature of Tribal, the thing that sets it apart from other styles, is the ability of the dancers to use their individual skill with the movements and their collective knowledge of the music to create art on the spot. It should feel like a spontaneous conversation as opposed to a scripted dialogue."

Kajira Djoumahna (director BlackSheepBellyDance) Tribal Bible 2003

Partners in Crime!

Below are some of the organisations I have been involved with or continue to work with, providing classes, workshops or performances:

  • Home Education Staffordshire
  • National Childbirth Trust, Staffordshire
  • Surestart Tamworth
  • Lichfield and Tamworth College
  • Staffordshire University
  • Lichfield Health and Fitness Club
  • Esporta, Shenstone, Staffordshire
  • Carers Association South Staffordshire
  • Angels In Arts Stoke-On-Trent
  • Rashani International, Dublin
  • Hips With Attitude, Glasgow

Some good web sites for information:

www.fcbd.com The home of American Tribal Style

www.ketisharif.com Very informative site with articles on dance, music and more.