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Instructor Bios



Yannah has been belly dancing for over 10 years. She loves to teach belly dance classes and share her love of dance with those new to belly dance and to expose students to the many benefits of dance.


Yannah is a member of Troupe Malkia, the performance subgroup of Sacred Hips in Motion.  She is also a member of ShimmyPop led by Ebony Qualls. Each troupe performs at various theaters, haflas, and events around the Washington DC area. She has appeared in the Moor Hips Belly Dance - Volume 1 DVD and was part of a belly dance segment on the BET TV series, My Black is Beautiful. Yannah has also given belly dance demos on the National Mall in Washington DC and performed in Paris.


In her spare time, Yannah loves to explore other creative areas such as painting, crafting, and discovering new music. In addition to belly dance, she enjoys, ANY dance form that gets the body moving. She often says that belly dance is for every body type and should be fun and open to all.  If you have hips, you can belly dance and that’s pretty cool.


Yannah believes that her "vessel" must be full in order to share and teach others, therefore she considers herself a lifelong student when it comes to dance and continues her dance training with local and international instructors.


Laini has studied Bellydance since 2004. She has taken classes and workshops with a variety of instructors in the Washington, DC area including but not limited to Dr. Sunyatta Amen, Amel Tafsout, Khalidah, Naima, Lotus Niraja, Leila Haddad, Rachid Alexander, Laurel Victoria Grey, Ebony Qualls, Rachel Brice and more. She strongly believes that her dance education is never ending. In addition to Belly Dance, Laini has also studied Afro-Carribbean dance intermittently since she was first introduced to the dance forms in 2006.  She plans to continue to pursue opportunities to expand her knowledge of the world of belly dance as well as other dance forms. The name Laini (pronounced Lah-ee-nee) is Swahili for ‘soft and gentle’ as well as ‘smooth’, all adjectives used to describe her dancing style.  Laini began teaching Belly Dance in 2007 and has had the opportunity to perform at outdoor festivals, wedding receptions, private parties and recitals. She has always been fascinated and enticed by the world of movement and was instantly drawn to the art of Bellydance. Through the art form, she has found sisterhood, body and spiritual awareness and a catalyst for feminine expression.


Jasmina Rae has been belly dancing for over 10 years. Retired from her day job, she devotes more time to her passion for this ancient, sacred art form. She believes that executing the powerful movements of belly dance improves the health and vitality of the aging body, enhances its beauty, and strengthens it from the inside out, thereby opening a portal for deeper self-discovery and expression.


Jasmina Rae stumbled upon belly dance in 2007 at a dance studio when she took Samba classes before traveling to Bahia, Brazil. When she returned from Brazil, belly dance connected with her heart, particularly when she learned from her readings that this sacred dance was not performed simply for the titillation of men or performed by loose women. On the contrary, this ritual dance was done in the temples of Egypt to honor the Goddesses, and in times when women were repressed and segregated, they danced together to connect with their spirituality and for self-expression. This ritual continues today.


She attends workshops and classes in traditional, urban and fusion styles of belly dance conducted by such dance luminaries as Ebony Qualls, Zoe Jakes, Rachel Brice, Mardi Love, Naimah, Lotus, Rashid, and international instructors, Shahrzad and Mohamed Shahin from Egypt.


She performs with Troupe Malkia, the performance group of Sacred Hips in Motion, at haflas, the Art of the Belly Festival in Ocean City, Maryland, and other venues. She also trains and performs three times a year with a troupe called ShimmyPop, a fusion of hip hop and traditional style belly dance under the direction of Ebony Qualls.


She also teaches a Gentle Belly Dance Class and her goals for teaching belly dance are to share the beauty and healing nature of this ancient, sacred dance.  


Her other passions are jewelry designing, gardening, reading, yoga and attending West African aerobic classes.

Jasmina Rae


Nyla is truly a dance and health enthusiast. She has a passion and love for all forms of dance and believes in its awesome healing effects on the mind, body, and spirit. She has had many years of dance training, since age 16, in ballet, jazz, tap, modern, African dance and she was a member of a liturgical dance ministry. 


She was introduced to the art of belly dance at Mamasita’s Dance & Wellness Studio in Washington, DC under the instruction of Sunyatta Amen. And her study in this art form has expanded over ten years. As a perpetual student of dance, she continued her training under dancers such as Naimah, Lotus Niraja, Zoe Jakes, Rachel Brice, Shahrzad, Rachid Alexander, Ebony Qualls and many more. She has participated in group performances at the Bellydancers of Color Expo, the Source Theater, American University's Greenberg Theatre, festivals on the National Mall, and private events. She also participated in a belly dance segment for the BET TV series, My Black is Beautiful. Nyla has completed certification training in ATS (American Tribal Style Belly Dance) under Carolena Nericcio-Bohlman. She is also a certified Zumba Instructor.


As a physician specializing in physical rehabilitation, Nyla believes that belly dance is an excellent form of exercise to promote weight loss, flexibility and vitality, core strength, and pain reduction.  She believes that everyone can “unleash their inner belly dancer” and she modifies the dance moves to meet the needs of all. Her goal is to share her passion for dance, love of sisterhood, and encourage students on their journey to achieve ultimate health and wellness in a fun atmosphere.


Ashima, which is Indian for “without borders” and “limitless”, has always had a love of dance. From studying ballet, tap, jazz and modern as a child to salsa and belly dance as an adult. She has been studying various forms of belly dance for 10 years. Having found her way to Mamasita’s Dance & Wellness Studio where she studied with Sunyatta Amen and Mama Cheryl, Ashima knew she had found a home and never looked back. She has studied classical, urban, tribal and fusion styles of belly dance with Rachel Brice, Zoe Jakes, Naimah, Lotus Niraja, Shahrzad, Rachid Alexander, Ebony Qualls and others.


In belly dance, Ashima has found a form of meditation and personal expression. Belly dance also introduced her to a wonderful sisterhood of women she now considers her tribe.



Nygeema’s belly dancing journey started in 2006 when she attended the Annual Bellydancers of Color Convention in Maryland. Over the course of 10 years, she studied under Sunyatta Amen and Cheryl Lomax and performed in two recitals at Mamasita Studios in Washington, DC.  She has taken workshops with a number of instructors including: Amel Tafsout, Ebony Qualls, Rachel Brice, Lotus Niraja, Naimah, and Zoe Jakes.  Nygeema also studied salsa and meringue dancing at the Dance Place with Ms. Mary Lou in Arlington, VA and Afro-Cuban/Caribbean with Angela. She enjoys world music, beading, reading, and most of all travelling.

Nygeema understands that belly dancing is not just a dance, but an unleashing of femininity energy. Belly dancing is celebrating the divine beauty and gift of being a woman. It is a sacred Art and a form of spiritual healing.

Nygeema continues taking classes and workshops, hoping that one day her journey will take her abroad to study belly dancing.


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