Meet Your Instructors

Suhaila Salimpour, Master Instructor

Suhaila Salimpour is a highly acclaimed performer, teacher, and choreographer of belly dance. Trained from an early age in jazz, tap and ballet, Suhaila began integrating her extensive classical background with the Middle Eastern dance passed on by her mother, Jamila Salimpour. The result was a true artistic breakthrough: a revolutionary foundational technique that has brought the art of Belly Dance to a new level.

In the U.S., Suhaila appeared on television series such as Fame and Max Headroom and choreographed various music videos. For six years, she was the featured dancer at Byblos, a prestigious Arabic nightclub in Los Angeles, where she shared the stage with the most renowned singers of the Middle East. Miles Copeland, owner of IRS records, prominently featured Suhaila in his 2005 documentary, American Bellydancer. Suhaila is the artistic director and producer of Sheherezade, an acclaimed performing arts spectacle that mixes belly dance with the synchronization of Riverdance, the pounding rhythms of Stomp and the aerial artistry of Cirque du Soleil. For Sheherezade, Suhaila was nominated for an Isadora Duncan Dance Award (“Izzie”)-making her the first performer in the belly dance genre to receive this prestigious nomination.

Today, Suhaila creates instructional and performance videos for all dance levels, as well as fully-orchestrated Middle Eastern dance musicals and CD recordings of the latest percussion artists. In addition to touring across the globe, Suhaila maintains her second-generation family business, the Suhaila Salimpour School of Belly Dance, in Berkeley, California. Suhaila has developed and implemented the first-available certification program in Middle Eastern dance. Suhaila looks forward to expanding the audience for and appreciation of traditional Middle Eastern dance in a distinctly contemporary style. Click here to learn more about Suhaila.

Jamila Salimpour, Matriarch of American Belly Dance

Jamila Salimpour is the originator of tribal belly dance in America. She is also the first one to solidify a format of terminology in belly dance still used today. Her format is taught and applied to dancers’ movements worldwide. Jamila has been an influential figure in belly dance for over 60 years. The creation of the dance troupe Bal-Anat evolved in 1968, when the opportunity to perform in an outdoor theme festival called The Renaissance Pleasure Faire challenged the imagination of American Belly Dance pioneer, Jamila Salimpour, to create a variety show which one might see at an Arabian Festival or Souk. From being a member of Ringling Brothers Circus in 1942 Jamila implemented that format in creating Bal Anat. As a belly dancer, Jamila Salimpour worked with many dancers including Algerian water glass dancers, Tunisian pot dancers, Male Tray dancers, magicians, and presented many varieties of entertainment. The Sword dance, Mask dance, and Snake dance were seen for the first time in Bal Anat. The resulting show became a show featuring tribal dances from North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean. The show inspired a whole generation of American Belly Dancers, giving way to the rise in popularity of the Tribal Belly Dance genre.

Staff & Guest Teachers


With a rich background in the performing arts, Andrea shares her lifelong involvement in acting, music and dance in her role as instructor and performer. Accumulating over a decade of experience in various dance genres (belly dance, bharatanatyam, ballet and modern) Andrea integrates philosophies from these various forms into her teaching and performance style. She is studying ballet and modern at CCSF and plans to pursue a Master’s in dance. She is currently Level 4 certified in the Suhaila Format, an instructor at the Suhaila Salimpour School of Belly Dance and a member of the Repertoire Ensemble presented by Suhaila Salimpour.


Sabriye Tekbilek is a performer and instructor of Middle Eastern dance whose stage presence and technique have been shaped by a lifetime of international performance and study. She currently holds a Level 5 certification in the Suhaila Salimpour Certification program and is Level 3 certified in the Jamila Salimpour Certification program. She performed in Suhaila’s Bal Anat and Suhaila Dance Company, the first original productions of Suhaila Salimpour’s Sheherezade, and the Fitness Fusion DVD series produced by Goldhil Entertainment. Click here to visit Sabriye’s website.


Gina has been teaching and performing middle-eastern dance since the age of three, and is a second generation belly dancer. Her technique both combines fusion and classical styles, and she has performed on national and international stages throughout her career. Gina is currently Level 5 in the Suhaila Salimpour Certification Program. Click here to visit Gina’s website.

Stacey Lizette

Stacey began studying bellydance in 1995. In 2001, she was introduced to Suhaila Salimpour’s format and has been hooked ever since. Certified Level 4 in 2009; Stacey is currently pursuing her Level 5 certification. She cross trains in other physical pursuits such as ballet, jazz, Pilates, weight training, running and yoga. She has attended numerous workshops throughout the years with instructors from around the world: Momo Kadous, Randa Kamel, Yasmina of Cairo, Aida Nour, Mo Geddawi, Farida Fahme, Jillina, Magda & Atef Farag, Aziza, Bozenka, Delilah, and many others. Stacey resides in Austin, TX where she teaches weekly classes, sponsors annual belly dance events, and is a member of the Sabaya Belly Dance Collective. Click here to visit Stacey’s website.

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