​​​​​Anyanka  started taking bellydance back in the early 90’s after seeing it performed at one of the first Arizona Renaissance Festivals.  After a very long break she returned to classes in 2005, along with her 8 year old daughter, Emishka.  And, after a few sessions of classes, they both joined the Dancers of DeNile bellydance troupe in April 2006.  Anyanka took over the reigns as instructor & Director of Dancers of DeNile in October 2010.  Throughout the years, Anyanka has taken classes from local instructors such as Mahin Sciacca, Anaya Tribal, K-Lee (of Natium World Dance) & Divine Chaos.  And workshops from many local instructors such as Yasmina Parker, Amanda Rose, Makara Peterson, Jenna Swanson, and international instructors such as Rachel Brice, Sharon Kihara, Suhaila Salimpour, Tito Seif, Dahlena & Sadie Marquardt.  Anyanka loves bellydance because it is a great reprieve from her 40 hour a week day-job, and she has tons of fun teaching bellydance to her students.  Her most recent adventure was starting a Bellydance for Kids class in early 2015.  Her choreographies are inspired by listening to a lot of bellydance music.  When not bellydancing, she can usually be found at the Arizona Coyotes games with her daughter. 

And yes… she IS the crazy cat lady!

Amal  began bellydancing in 2013. She started dancing due to her health as she suffered from serious spinal stenosis and OA in her hips, spine and neck, and she was looking to build a stronger body, with a strong, stable yet flexible core, neck and hips.  Looking to bellydance, she signed up for Anyanka’s Beginner Bellydance class hoping it would help her with more movement and less pain.  Amal has this to say about bellydance, “It's an amazing fun and healing experience.  Bellydancing has provided me with a strong body, a sharper mind, improved self esteem and body-confidence.  It's a gift to myself that keeps on giving.” Aside from Anyanka, Amal has taken a class from Jasmine, and workshops from Yasmina Parker & Divine Chaos. Amal states, “My favorite thing about bellydancing is that it pushes me out of my shell, forces me to be brave and confidant.  I'm a teacher and I love to learn.”  She says she loves Tribal style bellydance because of the big, beautiful skirts that spin so wonderfully when danced in.  In addition to her love of bellydance, Amal’s interests include Bikram hot yoga, Latin dance lessons with her husband, making costumes, and being a volunteer for Unity Church.  Amal spent 2 years in the beginner level troupe, Jewels of DeNile, and was promoted to the Dancers of DeNile troupe in January 2017.

Honorary Dancers of DeNile Troupe Members

Emishka  started her dance journey in 1999 at the very young age of 3 and has taken & performed tap, ballet, jazz, hip hop and gymnastics, and spent 8 years performing and competing in pom and cheer locally and nationally.  She started bellydancing in 2005 at the age of 8 years old. In April 2006, she along with her Mom, Anyanka, joined the Dancers of DeNile bellydance troupe.  Emishka has taken classes from local instructors such as Mahin Sciacca, Anaya Tribal, K-Lee (of Natium World Dance) & Divine Chaos.  And workshops from many local instructors such as Yasmina, Amanda Rose, Makara Peterson, Jenna Swanson, and international instructors such as Rachel Brice, Sharon Kihara, Suhaila Salimpour , Tito Seif, Dahlena & Sadie Marquardt.  Her favorite styles of bellydance are Fusion & Pop ‘n Lock.  Emishka started student-teaching Anyanka’s Bellydance Basic Moves class in early 2015, and assists with both the Bellydance for Kids & Beginner Bellydance classes.  In 2016, she started a new adventure by learning the art of dancing with fire fans as well as eating fire.  She is an aspiring model,  loves hanging out with friends & is an avid Arizona Coyotes fan.  In January of 2018, she will realize her dream of becoming a licensed massage therapist.  

Her favorite thing... STRIPES!

Hasna  began dancing approximately in January 2009.  She was introduced to bellydance in Iowa when she attended her first class with her younger sister.  She says, "It was love at first dance."  Most of Hasna's bellydance training has been with Anyanka, although she has also taken classes with Mahin Sciacca.  She has been a member of Dancers of DeNile since 2011.  Her favorite thing about bellydance is that it is great exercise, it builds self-confidence, and you gain great comradery with fellow dancers as well as the drummers of the bellydance community. She loves all styles of bellydance because there is so much beauty in each style.  In her spare time you can find Hasna hosting our monthly halfa, Daddy O's Desert Caravan Bellydance & Drum Circle, as well as sewing and spending time with her husband.  They enjoy riding his motorcycle together.  She is the joker of the troupe.  She came to class one night wearing a velociraptor mask and arms just to make everyone laugh - which it DID!

Jamillah  hales from Portland, Oregon and has been bellydancing on & off for since 2003.  Looking for an artistic outlet she turned to bellydance after turning 50 when her youngest child left home.  She had seen a bellydance festival in Utah years before and was impressed with how the women expressed themselves, showed so much joy and seemed so comfortable with their bodies. She vowed one day to learn how to bellydance.  In Portland, Jamillah studied with Christina, Weedad and Taheya, and has taken workshops at Saqra’s Showcase from a variety of teachers. The ones she remembers most are Shoshanna and Oberon.  She says of Weedad & Taheya, “Weedad taught me good basic skills & Taheya taught me to listen to music and troupe dynamic.”  After Jamillah moved to Phoenix with her husband, she started taking Anyanka’s bellydance classes in September 2014, and joined the Dancers of DeNile in her first big troupe performance with them in November 2015.  Jamillah is a former yoga instructor and enjoys traveling & going on cruises with her husband.  She is a member of both the Red Hat Society and the Black and Bling Society.

In March 2017, she competed in the Ms. Senior Arizona Pageant. She ,OF COURSE, did bellydancing as her talent!

Halima  started bellydancing in approximately 2009. She started bellydancing as a way to recover from a deep depression. Halima says, "I needed music back in my life and I wanted to be around a sisterhood. I'm so glad I joined!" Besides Anyanka, Halima has taken classes from Lori Hunt (former Director of Dancers of DeNile), and Farrell Carruth, as well as several workshops instructors from Plaza de Anaya in Tempe.  She says her favorite thing about bellydance is the fun she had with her new friends, the costumes, and being able to enjoying dancing and losing the fear of dancing in front of others.   She states, "It gave me so much confidence in myself and my abilities."  She gets most excited about bellydancing in large 25 yard skirts, and enjoys other props such as veil & sword. Her other hobbies include sewing & making costumes (bellydance, pirate, steampunk, whatever is needed), woodworking, painting, gardening and working with leather.  While not being able to dance for the last several years she still enjoys watching bellydance

videos on YouTube.

Dancers of DeNile Troupe Members

Zafirah  started bellydancing in January 2009.  She says, “Belly dancing was on my bucket list after receiving a kidney transplant.  I wasn’t sure I could do it, but slowly, surely, my body adapted and started moving in ways I had never imagined!”  Zafira’s other teachers include local instructors such as Samantha Karim, Mahin Sciacca, Anaya Tribal, Carrie Konya, Samia, & Helena Vlhahos.  There are two things she loves about bellydance:  1) It gives her a sense of beautiful feminine physical confidence, and 2) she loves the female camaraderie when dancing in groups. While currently not performing, Zafira is one of the hosts of the monthly Daddy-O's Desert Caravan Bellydance & Drum Circle.   She danced with Dancers of DeNile from 2011 into part of 2015.  Her other interests include costuming, art, interior design, travel, making fancy cocktails, and organizing everything!


Surayyah  started bellydancing in January 2013.  She signed up for Anyanka’s Beginner Bellydance class with her best friend and decided it was so much fun that she took a 2nd session just to see how different the music & choreography would be. From then on she was hooked! Surayyah joined Anyanka’s Beginner level troupe, Jewels of DeNile, in early 2013, and was promoted to the Intermediate troupe, Dancers of DeNile, in April of 2015.  She loves that she can go to class or practice after having a bad day at work and after just a few minutes of dancing, her bad mood has changed. Surayyah says, “My favorite thing about bellydancing is the lift in mood I get, increased confidence, and the physical & mental exercise.”   Other local instructors Surayyah has taken workshops from include Yasima Parker, Anaya Tribal, Epheli Raphae, Carrie Konyha, Jessica Walker and Rajani Doyle.  Aside from bellydancing, Surayyah enjoys spending time with her family, hiking, gardening, sewing, animal welfare and running her screen print business. In 2016, Surayyah decided to step away from the troupe to focus on other interests.

Ariyana  is our part-time AZ resident dance sister who has been dancing on and off since about 2002.  She started bellydancing as a form of exercise because she really hates to exercise!  She has taken classes from many Arizona instructors such as Anyanka, Melissa Billings, Diosa Vance, Mahin Sciacca & Helena Vlahos.  And from Michigan instructors Tina Jablonski, Sedena of Navel Belly Dance, Aida al Adawi, Jeannie Cammarate, Roxanne Scotilla & Garnett Kepler.  Ariyana has also taken workshops from Jim Boz, Carrie Konya & Sharon Kihara.  Her favorite things about bellydance are the costumes & socializing with other dancers.  Ariyana says, "Cabaret is the style that influences me. However, I also like Tribal style, but I don't care for some of the music."  She stays very busy whether here in Arizona or her other part time resident state of Michigan by performing in plays and other dance shows (she performs Jazz & other styles of dance also).  Her favorite past times are reading & playing golf.  And Ariyana LOVES to travel.   

Becca  came to bellydance in the Summer of 2012.  She is a Mom to 4 kids and started taking Anyanka’s Beginner Bellydance classes as something to do for herself. Plus, she has always loved to dance.  While primarily taking classes only from Anyanka, Becca has taken some workshops with local instructors such as Yasmina Parker and Rukshana. Becca joined the Dancers of DeNile bellydance troupe in January 2013. Her favorite things about bellydance are the friends she made & the costumes!  She says, "I love that the local bellydance community is so body-positive.”  She enjoys Fusion bellydance because she likes to mix bellydance styles, and is inspired by any dancer that is confident and shows it in her dance. Becca’s other interests include sewing, cooking for friends & family, & going out to lunch.  Becca & her family relocated to Utah in August 2015 when vacationing with extended family.  She is hoping to continue her bellydance journey there.

Aurora  has been bellydancing since around 2006.  She discovered bellydancing when her Aunt took her to a local SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) event.  She decided if she was going to continue to go to those types of events, she wanted to take some classes to learn how to bellydance. Then, she got addicted!  Aurora started taking classes with locally renowned instructor, Morgiana.  Then, with Rebecca Hastings after Morgiana retired from teaching.  She performed with Rebecca’s troupe, Children of Isis.  Aurora started classes with Anyanka in September 2011 and became a Dancers of DeNiletroupe member in November 2012.  Aurora enjoys choreographies which involve props (sword, veil, baskets & canes).  She says of bellydance, “I love my sisters in dance and how accepting the community is in general with all ages, shapes, and derivatives of the dance. I also love wearing pretty costumes that glitter and move. They make me feel sexy and alive!”  Aurora also enjoys reading, is a blossoming seamstress, spends time with her family and is involved in Girl Scouts with her daughter.  She LOVES unicorns!

Kai  discovered bellydance in 2011 when a friend of hers talked her into signing up for Anyanka's class. Sadly, her friend did not continue classes, but Kai is still shimmying and has been with Dancers of DeNile since 2012.  Kai has taken a few workshops from local instructors such as Yasmina Parker & Diosa Vance & tries to fit in other workshops as her schedule allows.  She says her favorite thing about bellydance is the sense of community, “You meet all of these great people who instantly accept you into their bubble because you’re all dancers. In a world where women can be very cliquish, that kind of support and camaraderie is nice to find.”  Kai really digs Zoe Jakes as Tribal Fusion is her favorite bellydance style.  Kai says, “I really love the concept of incorporating different styles and textures in dance. I’m also inspired by my fellow Dancers of DeNile ladies! We’re all so different it makes collaborations a lot of fun.” She also recently started learning to dance with fire fans, and in Spring of 2017 she started to learn fire staff.  Kai loves going to concerts & is a huge Phoenix Suns fan.  She also enjoys karaoke, cake decorating and yoga.  She goes all fan-girl over Nick Carter from the Backstreet Boys.