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About DMD
Su'ad - Artistic Director (Nancy L. Barrett) PDF Print E-mail

Suad with VeilSu'ad is the Desert Moon Dancers' Artistic Director and has over 30 years experience in Near and Middle Eastern Dance as a performer, choreographer, and teacher

She first learned this dance in Madison, WI where she was a co-founder and co-director of troupe Hazet Helwa. After moving to Connecticut in 1987, she performed at Main Street USA in New Britain in 1988 and 1990, and the New York Festival of Belly Dance in 1990.

She currently teaches through Life Learn, the West Hartford Continuing Adult Education program, and at the Arthur Murray studio in Glastonbury. She also teaches at many one-day events through the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA), a historical recreation group.

Su'ad has sponsored ME dance events, co-teaching with Jameela of Buffalo and Farasha of New Jersey. She co-sponsors seminars in CT and NJ with Farasha. Together they have brought many internationally known artists to the east coast. Su'ad has done extensive historical research in Near and Middle Eastern dance and costuming, and has received the highest arts award from the SCA.

Hijara (Tony Leshinskie) PDF Print E-mail

HijaraFor over 18 years, Hijara has been instrumental in introducing New England audiences to the masculine side of the art of Middle Eastern dance.

As part of Desert Moon Dancers since its start, he specializes in the tahtib (traditional Egyptian stick dancing). He also teaches beginner ME dance classes at Manchester (CT) Community College.

Rayya (Melanie L. Estes) PDF Print E-mail

RayyaRayya began studying Middle Eastern dance in 1990 and is one of the original members of Desert Moon Dancers. After a break to pursue ballroom dance, she rejoined the troupe in 1998 with renewed zeal. Along with being one of the senior dancers in the troupe, she is also active in theatre. She has performed in "Nunsensations!" with the Laurel Tree Players in New Bedford, MA, as "Sister Mary Leo," the dancing nun, and as "Dora" in "Night Must Fall" with The Players of Providence, RI.

With her ballroom experience, Rayya brings a refinement and joy to the dance. She has a wonderful sense of theatre and expression, and sometimes the music just seems to flow right through her, drawing the audience into the dance.  She also loves trying to sculpt her talents into new forms and is currently experimenting with pop-lock fusion.  Her humorous choreography of "Seaside Rendezvous" is beautiful, funny, and definitely a performance to remember!

Astrea (Kirsten Rourke) PDF Print E-mail

Astrea with VeilAstrea has been involved in Middle Eastern dance since she began with the troupe in 1991. Her dance specialties include working with veil and teaching veil technique. Her background includes theatrical presentation and art. She has begun branching into choreography and will be performing an original choreography with the troupe at the Amaya seminar.

She has designed costumes for Su'ad and other troupe members. She has also done research into Near and Middle Eastern art, including calligraphy and illumination. In the SCA she has taught movement classes and basic painting (Introduction to Illuminated Manuscripts), and has begun teaching 15th Century panel painting and introduction to egg tempera.

Elena (Helen Rose) PDF Print E-mail

ElenaElena has been with DMD since 2000. Her talents with yoga help with the challenging moves that Su'ad can create. She loves performing and wearing evening gowns and putting on the glorious makeup.

She says she's still working on getting over her shyness, though you wouldn't know she needed to from seeing her on stage!

Aziza (Erica Westwood) PDF Print E-mail


Aziza comes to us with a background in ballroom dance, and she is taking to Middle Eastern dance like she was born to it!  Her performance of "I Put a Spell on You" is truly spellbinding.

Khalisa (Stacy Vanderveer) PDF Print E-mail

KhalisaKhalisa has been with DMD since 2000. She is a beautiful and talented dancer, who is a total babe! She is very skilled with the veil and mastering new choreography.

Noor (Lynn Roth) PDF Print E-mail

NoorNoor has been a member of DMD since 2000. She has been instrumental in getting costumes together and helping Su'ad and Astrea on the road.

She loves the dance for how it makes her feel and feels most at home when listening to beladi.

Nadia (Nedra Dunton) PDF Print E-mail

Our one "adjunct member," Nadia has been with DMD since 1997.Nadia in New London 2010 Having moved to Vermont, it's difficult for her to rehearse with us, but she joins us for workshops as often as she can, and she performs solo numbers in our shows.

At our New London show especially, Nadia can usually be found playing stage manager and keeping the backstage chaos as organized as any human could make it.  Dance-wise, Nadia loves the unexpected; you just never know what she'll be performing to next - perhaps it will be "Flash Dance" tonight!

Troupe History PDF Print E-mail

The Desert Moon Dancers troupe was founded in 1991 by Artistic Director Nancy L. Barrett (dance name Su'ad). Based in the Hartford, Connecticut area, the troupe specializes in Near and Middle Eastern dance (also known as "belly dance").

Near and Middle Eastern dance has a long history, dating from at least ancient Greece. This dance is based on flowing combinations of movement layered over the hip articulations that are particular to this dance form. Audiences in the United States have been fascinated by this dance since it was first introduced at the Chicago World Exhibition in 1883.

The Desert Moon Dancers blend modern and folkloric styling into dances that entertain and delight, as well as showing the range of expression that make this dance unique. Troupe members are continuously perfecting dance technique and perform and teach at many venues throughout the year.

Persian Fantasy

DMD Ethnic with Canes
DMD Performs Ask Hijara and Astrea Duet Suad and Rayya Balancing Canes

DMD in Philly