Serpentina began in 2005 with as a tribal duet in New York City with partners Joanne and Orkideh. When Orkideh emigrated to Canada in 2007, they parted ways amicably and she planned to create a tribal troupe in Toronto.
The Serpentina North Ensemble is a tribal fusion troupe. They have a foundation in Fat Chance style ATS, but also incorporate ITS from Gypsy Caravan, kathak stylings, classical Persian, cabaret, and other dance forms that inspire them.
They frequently perform in Kensington Market during Pedestrian Sunday, but have also been a part of TedX at YorkU, the International Stage at the CNE, Funkasia at Pride, The Serpentss Muse at Cues & Tattoos, and several editions of Mirage and Inversion.
The current members of the Serpentina North Ensemble are dancers Elana, Sandy, Kelly and Wilma; they are accompanied by electro-fusion musician, Jim Boz (JMBZ).
Orkideh is the director of the Serpentina North Ensemble. Bellydance has proven to be an integral part of her life and she continues to train every day. She began studying American Cabaret bellydance in 2000 with Safiya in New York City. Several years into her training, she discovered tribal style and was instantly smitten. While living in New York, she also studied regularly with Anahid Sofian, Sarah Locke and Susan Frankovich, as well as kathak with Najma Ayshah.
She is inspired by integrating other dance styles (particularly classical Indian) and seeks to continue growing as a performer, teacher, and choreographer. Orkideh continues her kathak studies in Toronto with Joanna De Souza, and takes workshops or private lessons when she can, particularly with Rachel Brice, Zoe Jakes, Ariellah Aflalo, Paulette Rees-Denis and Dalia Carella. Orkideh also augments her dance with yoga, pilates, and weight lifting, a discipline she has grown to love.
Bellydance gave her a positive body image and confidence in expressing herself; tribal style gave her community and camaraderie. She is inspired and excited by the community in Toronto and wants to share her enthusiasm for the art form. Orkideh became a certified ATS® teacher by Carolena Nericcio of Fat Chance Bellydance in October 2009. She is also Stott Pilates trained and is pursuing her certification.
She also makes jewellery and hand silkscreens Serpentina merch, available at Etsy
Elana experienced her first bellydance class at a fitness centre and immediately fell in love with the art form. She started training in traditional bellydance with Roula Said and performed with the Om Laila student troupe before joining Serpentina North Ensemble. She enjoys exploring various styles of bellydance, and finds that each teacher provides a new perspective and fresh inspiration. It was through Hadia’s Instructor Training course that Elana discovered her love of anatomy and was inspired to study the art and science of human movement and rehabilitation.
Elana is drawn to the powerful group dynamic of tribal improv and the creative expression of tribal fusion. She seeks to continually evolve as a dancer and performer, and is honoured to share the stage with the members of Serpentina North Ensemble.
Sandy first found bellydance as a teen and years later upon discovering Roula Said of Om Laila, began dancing in a more focused and devoted way. It was with the Om Laila Troupe, under the direction of Megan Shields, Sandy began her adventures in performance. And there was no going back...
Sandy loves learning tradition and aims for focused and respectful practice of middle eastern dance -- as well as finding ways to intertwine that with her own artistic and spiritual exploration. Sandy has traveled to San Francisco for an authentic taste of tribal fusion -- a path that led inevitably to an interest in ATS®, and joining Serpentina North Ensemble. A lover of vintage dance, Sandy is a long standing dancer with the 1920's flapper troupe, the Sugar Shakers.
As co-creator and dancer with House of Shimmy, Sandy enjoys a mash up of dance styles into this theatrical go-go style bellydance project. As a soloist, Sandy's choreography is infused with a vintage flare, and inspired by collaborations with other art forms/mediums. Sandy also has a longstanding yoga practice with an interest in body based healing modalities.
Sandy has completed the Om Laila Bellydance Fundamentals Teacher Training and Basic Black Certification at the Darkside Studio. She continues to learn from local dancers, especially Roula Said, Audra Simmons and Orkideh. Sandy also continues to attend workshops with international dancers such as Rachel Brice, Mira Betz, Amy Sigil and Donna Mejia.
Dedicated to pushing her own creative boundaries, Sandy is honoured to have the pleasure and pain of dance in her life.
She also makes cowls and Serpentina bags, available at Etsy
Kelly began performing in local musical theatre productions at the age of eight, but only began intensive dance training as an adult. Always active in choirs and theatre, Kelly was accepted to study at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City. Well versed in jazz/contemporary, tap, ballet and ballroom styles, along with singing, acting and stagecraft, Kelly travelled to California and Montreal to work on multiple projects before returning to Toronto.
Since discovering belly dance in 2010, Kelly has been training Egyptian Cabaret and Fusion style with various studios in the GTA. Always looking for new opportunities, her interest in ATS® was piqued by the strong physical form and improvisational aspect within the tribal group structure. Kelly is excited to work and perform with Serpentina North.
Wilma Van Den Boomen has been a passionate dancer all her life, with her original dance studies being in the areas of Modern and Jazz dance which occurred during her time studying music and piano at the University of Western Ontario where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music. A further Diploma in Nursing and registration as a RN, a marriage and 3 children, saw her dance studies temporarily put on hold, however an interest in bellydance after the birth of her last child led her to want to seek out and explore a new genre.
Wilma studied Egyptian-style bellydance from 2010-12 in Thunder Bay, Ontario as well as a year of basic ATS® study during that time with Satusirkku Minor, Director of Academy Afrah in Thunder Bay. However, upon arrival in Toronto she decided she wished to focus her dance mainly on ATS®/ITS studies with the goal to joining a troupe. After moving back to Toronto from Northern Ontario, Wilma Van Den Boomen began studying weekly with Orkideh. She was asked to join the troupe in June 2014, and has been practicing and performing with them since. Dancing with the Serpentina North Ensemble is truly a dream come true for her.
In the summer of 2014 she took the Dark Side Studio Basic Black Training Intensive with Audra Simmons, and was certified and is currently working on her Lavender Certification.
Wilma hopes to continue to study with both Orkideh and Audra through weekly and intensive workshops. Wilma is grateful for the opportunity to dance and perform and finds the collegial nature and the sisterhood inherent in the ATS/ITS format an extremely enjoyable and fulfilling experience. She is thankful every day for the many gifts of dance in her life.
Jim has fronted several bands through the 80s and 90s as a guitarist, vocalist, and keyboard player. In the late 1990s, Jim Boz gained a small worldwide following as a solo gothic/industrial artist under the stage name of Fell.Head and as a member of the experimental music duet Tension Factor. He has run his own digital recording studio "Alchemy", engineering and producing recordings for his and other musical projects.
In 1994, on a dare, Jim began taking classes in 'belly dance', more specifically American Tribal Style belly dance. A short time later after taking up to 6 classes a week from 3 different instructors, Jim began performing Middle Eastern and related dance styles in the Pacific NorthWest solo and with his troupes Lost Ghawazee and Sons of the Padisha. In 1999 he began travelling to teach and share a love of Middle Eastern dance and music. In a little under 15 years, Jim travelled over a million miles, visiting 5 continents teaching, studying, and performing Middle Eastern dance. Jim has been invited to teach and/or perform at some of the world's largest International Middle Eastern dance events.
In 2010, Jim Boz revisited his roots in electronic music by combining them with Middle Eastern rhythms and melodies, creating a signature blend of organic textures and electronic beats across 5 CD's of original "Electronic World Fusion" music, plus two additional CD's of audio tools for dancers & instructors. His music is distributed internationally on iTunes, CDBaby, Amazon, Spotify, and other electronic services, along with his Belly Dance and World Fusion internet radio station Radio Shimmy. Jim's twenty year celebration tour for 2014 includes musical performances in North America and Europe under the name JMBZ.