Instructor and Performer, specializing in American Tribal Style
This bio was updated in January, 2009.
Kajira has devoted her career to the proliferation of American Tribal Style (ATS) BellyDance (BD). Though skilled in many other traditional dance forms, this specialty chose her due to its “no borders” sense of creativity, its modern approach to ancient ways, its inherent ability for developing one’s sense of community, the fact that this form builds self esteem not through competition, but through cooperation; and its capacity to bring dancers together nearly psychically through the use of structured group improvisational dancing.
Most of all, Kajira is the original Creator and “Chief Imagineer” of the KD/BSBD Format for ATS BD and the Founder and Teacher of BSBD and its earlier incarnations, as well as hundreds of other individuals and troupes around the world. Kajira and BlackSheep BD feel technique is necessary only to facilitate the experience of the loftier goal of complete and total JOY while in the moment with others! They feel this format and the way it is taught is a vehicle for healing on so many levels. It is much more than a series of steps...
Kajira has taught workshops, master classes, teacher certifications and several-days-long study programs in Germany, England, Austria, Taiwan, Canada and throughout the US so far. Other teaching highlights include teaching and performing onboard a cruise ship for 4 years and as a teacher, performer and judge at the Belly Dancer of the Universe Competition (BDUC) on 3 separate occasions, with a standing offer to return anytime. She holds an honorary award for “Lifetime Achievement in Middle Eastern Dance and the Arts” from the same.
She is author and purveyor of the famous Tribal Bible (currently sold out of its 3rd printing, more coming in 2009), which has become known as “a rich and incredibly well-researched and documented resource for dancers of all styles”. It never goes out of date due its chapters and interviews with the people who were there from inception, and features more than 300 photos to document this dance form’s history, textiles and jewelry ATS dancers love to incorporate into their costumes (where they’re from, how they’re traditionally worn and how we adapt them) as well as chapters on music, movements and Dance As Ritual and its inherent spirituality.
She is the featured Tribal-and-Alternative Q-n-A columnist for Zaghareet! Magazine for at more than 3 years and has numerous articles and interviews with your favorite dancers on her web site for all to read after publication.
Kajira has 2 DVDs produced by the International Academy of Middle Eastern Dance / IAMED) (Vol. 1 having been honored as one of the “Top 25 DVDs for Belly Dancers” by Shira of shira.net and the *only Tribal one* to make the cut!), and recently filmed and self-produced 3 more in Dec. 2008, to be released no later than Tribal Fest, Number 9, Number 9 (3x3) in May, 2009.
Kajira is a performer and teacher of *many* dance styles (just ask!) and co-produces along with her husband, Chuck, the world’s first and still the largest 5-day event, Tribal Fest (a 4-time winner in Zaghareet! Magazine’s annual popular-vote Golden Belly Awards for Favorite Event). In 2008 we had attendees from more than 16 countries, and are grateful to the global dance community who help make it “the place to go” for anyone into Tribal, Fusion, Gothic and Alternative BellyDance styles as well as being “a last bastion” of traditional ethnic styles that inform ATS she makes sure to include. It is important to Kajira that dancers have a chance to “think outside their boxes” and learn the roots as well as the many possible future forms of this explosive style at her event.
Other awards for Kajira include the Instructor of the Year award from IAMED, and Favorite Instructor in Zag! Mag’s Golden Belly Awards!
Kajira’s most influential teachers in her dance life include Carolena Nericcio of FCBD, with whom she spent 8 years as a student and as a member of her various performance troupes, Elizabeth Artemis Mourat, Delilah, Suhaila & Jamila Salimpour, TerriAnne, Deanne Adams, Tempest, Rachel Brice, Laurel Victoria Gray, Morocco and Sarala Dandekar.
Kajira gained invaluable insights through fellow dancer and musician Staff for a decade at the prestigious Mendocino Middle Eastern Music and Dance Camp in CA, on staff again in 2008, as well as from fellow Staff for 3 years at Folk Tours Camp in MD.
She’s pursued further training with many teachers in many styles of Middle Eastern, Rromany and Folkloric Dance, with current cross-training under master teacher Sarala Dandekar in Odissi, a devotional Classical Dance from the temples of East India.
She offers Teacher Training Courses in her specific format (The KD/BSBD Format for ATS BD) while encouraging her students to pursue even more training in any field, just like she does. Kajira feels that the measure of a great instructor is the students she leaves to continue their living legacy, and Kajira is grateful to have accomplished this. (She even has “grandchildren” now, around the world!) She has a new offering as well in her Teacher Training Courses: “Equivalency Certificates”. See her site for info. There is talk of upcoming “Satellite Schools” as well, so ask her or check back to her site frequently.
Because of her Teacher Training courses, Kajira was able to update the members of her troupe, BlackSheep BellyDance, at the end of 2008. The 3 DVDs made in Dec. 2008 include certified teachers and alumni from all over the U.S., and another BSBD member, Betty Lee of Taiwan's Shimmy Tribe, is the first Satellite School Instructor in Kajira's format for ATS.
Kajira is constantly grateful to have a full schedule year-round traveling to share her art with others, whenever possible accompanied by members of her troupe. The majority of Kajira’s workshops in 2009 are out of the country (Mexico, Austria, Germany, The UK, Taiwan and China). Book with me early (two years is not too soon) to get me exactly when you’d like!
For more information, please join our Tribe: http://bsbd.tribe.net or call 24/7: 808.891.8891.
Praise for Kajira:
Djoumahna is a true gem. Her seemingly unlimited skills are matched by
her passion in the field of oriental dance as a performer, instructor,
author, troupe director and event producer. A fountain of knowledge, her
well-researched and often witty writing is as agile as her hips. In ancient
times, she'd have been called a Wise Woman. Today, we can still refer
to her that way, but in keeping with our modern times, let's add that
she's totally awesome!" ~ Princess Farhana, performer/instructor,
Tribal Fest 5, photo by Brad of TabooMedia.com
(Top photo, Tribal Fest 6, photographer unknown)
More about: BlackSheep BellyDance Troupe | The