Nomad Dancers is a collective inspired by traditions of India, Persia, Central Asia, Middle East, and Turkey, traveling across borders and bridging cultures in search of the ultimate dance experience. The Nomad Dancers proudly present Persian, Afghan, Tajik, Azeri, Uzbek, Uighur, and Ottoman Turkish traditional folkloric dances, as well as Bollywood and Fusion choreographies, at cultural events, celebrations and festivals in the Washington DC metropolitan area and beyond. The individual Nomad Dancers' fascination and interests in the graceful, playful, colorful, and rich dance traditions from across this vast region, coupled with the dancers' myriad experiences and talents, have inspired a varied repertoire of dances and glorious costumes prepared by the Nomad Dancers themselves.
While the Nomad collective itself is a relatively new phenomenon, created in December 2008, each of the individual dancers brings years of professional experience in various dance styles to the group, and have performed in venues ranging from universities and embassies to Washington DC's Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, to the majestic Registan Square in Samarkand, Uzbekistan; from across the United States to Italy, Greece, Cyprus, India and Afghanistan. The Nomad collective is dedicated to bringing master teachers from around the world to help us refine our skills and craft our choreographies, better enabling us to bring diverse audiences together, and to spread cultural awareness of the region.
Nomad Dancers is a proud Arts Partner of Joy of Motion Dance Center.
Contact us for concerts and cultural events:
Annetta has spent years abroad, but it was not until she returned to Washington, D.C. in 1998 that she had the opportunity to explore the world of dance. After three years of training in Raqs Sharqi, she joined the Silk Road Dance Company (SRDC) and began performing dances from India, Central Asia, the Caucusus, the Middle East and North Africa, studying extensively with People's Artist of Uzbekistan, Qizlarhon Dustmuhamedova, and other guest instructors. She traveled and performed with the ensemble at the 2006 Sharq Taronalari, Central Asian Music Festival, in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, and for 1.5 years she served as Assistant Director of SRDC. Annetta was a founding member of Nomad Dancers in 2009 and continues to study and perform dances from around the world. She has performed at such venues as the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage, the Uzbek Embassy, the Philadelphia Art Museum, National Geographic, and the Smithsonian Institution.
Elena Faye has been studying various folk dance traditions from a young age. Though she began with Irish Step dance as a young child, at age 14 her interest shifted to Middle Eastern dance, which she studied intensively with DC-based dancer Najwah (Karen McLane). During her undergraduate studies at Columbia University's Barnard College, Elena spent three years as the President of the Columbia University Bellydance Troupe and had the opportunity to study and collaborate with such respected belly dance artists as Ranya Renee, Luna of Cairo, Kaeshi Chai, Nourhan Sharif, and Jillina. After graduating in May of 2012 with a degree in Middle Eastern Language & Culture and a minor in Dance, she returned to her home state of Maryland and currently performs at Arabic venues throughout the DC metro area. Aside from the Nomads, Elena also dances in the Ancient Rhythms Dance Company and the Maqsoum Troupe at Saffron Dance studio (VA), where she is a faculty member.
Keely grew up in Missoula, Montana and started dancing at the age of three. She studied tap and ballet until the age of 12. She went on to dance and perform with her high school varsity cheerleading squad and began studying Egyptian Oriental dance as a compliment to her graduate studies in Middle East politics, history and Arabic language. Keely loves the Middle East and finds that dance is a wonderful way to enrich one’s knowledge of any culture. Since 2008, she has performed in four different companies at Saffron Dance in Arlington, VA: two Classical Egyptian Companies, Beledi and Ayoub and Egyptian Folklore in Saidi Company and Faten Salama’s Fellahi Company. In 2010, she received the Aaliyah Quinn Middle East Dance Scholarship from the Tiraz Dance Network. Keely was thrilled and honored to join the Nomad Dancers in 2011 and loves learning Persian, Afghan and all Central Asian styles of Dance.
As a child growing up in her native land of Iran, Parastoo enjoyed imitating Persian, Arabic and Indian dance videos. While in college, she enrolled in ballroom and international dance classes. Later, she joined the Penn State International Dance Ensemble under the direction of professor Elizabeth Hanley, studying and performing a variety of international dance styles including Eastern European, Greek, Spanish, Tahitian, Egyptian, Chinese, and Indian. After graduating from Penn Statue University with a degree in computer science and math, she moved to Washington DC area. Aside from working as a software engineer, she continued following her passion of dance by performing with Silk Road Dance Company as a principal dancer for several years where she had the opportunity to learn from leading Central Asian dance artists including People's Artist of Uzbekistan Qizlarhon Dustmuhamedova. In 2009, Parastoo joined Nomad Dancers and continues to perform beautiful dances of her motherland and neighboring regions.
Annie is interested in many forms of dance -- ballet, salsa, Middle Eastern, and Central Asian, among others. She started figure skating at age 6 after seeing her sister dressed up in her ice show costume. Annie took ballet classes as part of her training program and she has loved dancing ever since. She graduated from Boston University in 2008 and moved to the DC area to start a job as an Aerospace Engineer. While looking for dance classes in the area she found Saffron Dance, where she studied bellydancing and was instantly hooked. While a student at Saffron, she became aware of other Middle Eastern and Central Asian dance styles she enjoyed, and eventually joined Nomad Dancers as an apprentice.
Sema is a Turkish-American, who was born and raised in Fairfax, VA. Growing up listening to Jackson 5 and watching Soul Train, she showed interest in music and dance from an early age. One summer, while visiting Hemsin, her parents' birthplace in the Black Sea region of Turkey, she was introduced to a traditional folk dance called Horon. Since then, she became intrigued with folkloric dances from all regions of Turkey. In 1999 she joined the Washington DC Turkish Folk Dance Group, which at the time was known as ATSA-DC Dance Group. In 2004, Sema co-founded Kardelen Turkish Dance Ensemble. By joining Silk Road Dance Company in 2004, she learned various dance styles from the Near East, Middle East, and Central Asia. In 2010, Sema joined Nomad Dancers to continue to learn and perform beautiful dances of this region. Sema is currently a Data Analyst for Indus Corp and a board member for American Turkish Association of Washington, DC.
Dance has been a huge part of Mindy's life since she was a young girl. She started ballet and tap lessons at the wee age of 3 and has been dancing ever since. She continued taking tap lessons but it wasn't until during her graduate studies in education that she discovered the allure of Middle Eastern dance. There was an instant connection and it led her to try other dance forms such as Persian, Indian, and Flamenco, all of which she loved. But Eastern dance forms felt most natural to her and she quickly found her way to the Silk Road Dance Company and then to the Nomad Dancers. In her spare time, she is a mom to three wonderful children and she loves to share her enthusiasm for dance with them on a daily basis.
As a small child, Saghi exhibited an interest in all forms of dance. When she was just 5 years old, her family moved to the United States from her homeland of Iran. To pursue her interest in dance, she took ballet, tap and jazz classes. While acquiring her college degree in Business, she continued studying these dance styles and kept her interest alive. In 2010 after seeing a performance of Persian dance by Nomad Dancers, Saghi was inspired by memories of her homeland and the style of dance she had seen while growing up. Since joining the Nomads, Saghi has learned many varieties of traditional dances of Central Asia and the Middle East.
Kimia was born in Tehran, Iran and lived there until the age of 22. After moving to the United States to attend graduate school, Kimia felt nostalgia for her country's culture and traditional dances. Kimia joined her university's Persian dance group to perform at a Nowruz event, and began her dance journey. After graduation, she moved to Washington DC area to work as a software engineer. Upon seeing Nomad Dancers perform at the Kennedy Center in 2015, she was determined to rekindle her old passion. Since joining Nomad Dancers, Kimia has been excited to learn and perform a variety of traditional dances.
Born and raised in a family of Balkan music and folk dance enthusiasts, Jenna began her formal dance training at age three. She studied ballet and Russian character dance extensively under Eugene Petrov and the late Irine Fokine. Jenna went on to earn her Bachelor of Arts as a double major in Dance and Asian & Middle Eastern Cultures at Barnard College. Since graduating, Jenna has worked with prestigious groups, such as Bellydance Evolution, Wild Saffron, BellyTrance, and the Nomad Dancers. She has also taught and performed at numerous national events, including 3rd Coast Tribal Festival, Jewels of the Orient, Waking Persephone, and Art of the Belly. In 2014, she joined the faculty at Saffron Dance becoming their first ever Tribal Fusion style bellydance instructor.
Patricia grew up in Potosi, Bolivia where she showed a passion for different kinds of dance from an early age. She took ballet and Spanish dance classes during childhood. As a teenager, Patricia improved her dance skills by practicing merengue, cumbia and salsa. After obtaining her medical degree in 1997, she moved to Mexico to obtain a master’s degree in Epidemiology. While living in Mexico, she was a member of the Bolivian dance company “Ïnti Raymi” for 6 years, promoting the beauty of the Bolivian rhythms and culture. She began her belly dance journey in Mexico, while taking a basic course for 3 months. She discovered a new and mesmerizing world of dance. In 2010, she began a new adventure by moving to Washington D.C. to work at the Pan American Health Organization as a Specialist of Health Statistics. In 2012 she started studying belly dance once again and since then, she has been performing with two student companies at Saffron Dance: Chiftitelli and Beledi. After seeing a performance of Central Asian Dance by Nomad Dancers in 2013, she was hooked. In April 2014, she joined Nomad Dancers and she currently enjoys learning, dancing and expanding her knowledge and skills performing different traditional rhythms and styles of the Middle East and Central Asia.
Christel Stevens, Co-Director of Nomad Dancers, is a scholar, performer, and teacher of dances from India. She holds a Master's Degree in Dance from the American University in Washington, D.C., specializing in Bharata Natyam and Manipuri classical dances of India. Christel has traveled the world, researching and performing dances of India, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, Greece and Uzbekistan from "native speakers" of these dance traditions. She has taught classical Indian dance for several years at the India International School of Northern Virginia, where she established an adult performance company, Megha Shakti Dancers, that performed in venues in the DC metro area including the National Cherry Blossom Festival, Dance Festival of India, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, and Indian Independence Day celebrations. Christel has also choreographed for the theater, including Open Theater/DC and La Mama E.T.C. of New York City, and works on the costume crew at Synetic Theater. She has served on awards jury panels for both the Helen Hayes Awards and Metro DC Dance Awards. She is also a founding board member of Indian Dance Educators Association of DC, Maryland and Virginia.
Growing up in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Nigina, like any Soviet child took gymnastics, singing, piano lessons and classical Uzbek dance lessons. Nigina loved dancing traditional Uzbek dances at weddings, birthday parties, and at home. After coming to Washington, DC area in the early 1990s, Nigina missed Uzbek dancing as the Uzbek community at the time was just growing. Nigina continued dancing, including taking dance classes as electives at George Mason University where she received her BA and M.S degrees. Nigina started focusing on tango, but meeting Nomad Dancers enabled Nigina to reconnect with her culture on a dance level. Nigina also continues to enjoy tango at milongas with her husband.
Adriane Whalen, Co-Director of Nomad Dancers, teaches ballet, tap, jazz and belly dance to adults and children at Joy of Motion Dance Center and Skyline Sport and Health. She is the Director of Raqs Jameel, Joy of Motion's Youth Belly Dance Company. Adriane has performed with the Berkeley Conservatory Ballet Company in Berkeley California. Recently, she has been performing Middle Eastern and Central Asian dance, appearing at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theatre, Philadelphia Museum of Art, North Carolina Museum of Art, and the Embassies of Egypt and Uzbekistan, Shakespeare Theatre, Dance Place, and Atlas Theatre in Washington, DC.
The Nomad Dancers will be happy to present a selection of authentic traditional dances from Iran, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Turkey, India, Azerbaijan, and the Middle East, to enhance your reception, Nowruz celebration, wedding ceremony, educational presentation, national day observance, children’s program, or cultural festival.
Classical Persian dance was developed in the court of the Shahs of Iran during the Qajar dynasty, which lasted from the 18th to the early 20th century. Artistic dances were performed in the royal court for entertainment at coronations, marriage celebrations, and Nowruz (Persian New Year) celebrations. There is a distinctive style to Persian dance, including lovely expressive hands, eyes and face.
Shabe Eshgh “Night of Love”– a romantic celebration, performed to legendary Iranian vocalist Haydeh’s song, very popular and appropriate for wedding entertainments
Persian Suite “The Jewels and the Rose” – richly costumed ballet depicts a Rose princess in a Persian garden, with handmaidens clad in red lace. The Jewels appear, representing Lapis Lazuli, Turquoise, Pearl, Topaz, Ruby, and Jade, the precious gems of the East.
Bandari – In Farsi, “bandar” means harbor. This spirited Iranian folk dance from the Persian Gulf region reflects not only close ties with the neighboring peoples of the Arabian Peninsula, but also tribal African traditions of trance dance, brought to Persia by the slave trade.
Qashqai Wedding Dance - The Qashqa’is, a semi-nomadic people in southwestern Iran (Fars Province), form the second largest Turkic group in the country, after the Azerbaijanis. At Qashqai wedding celebrations, women in elaborate dresses dance in long lines around an open field, tossing colorful scarves over their shoulders, to the tune of a reed pipe and a large drum that can be heard for miles.
Raghse Daf/Gavallah Raks - The hand drum, which is part of a typical folk music ensemble, is displayed by the dancers, who sometimes hide their faces and peek out coyly from behind the drum. The brisk, energetic jumps, quick spins, back-bends, and kicks are all typical of the exciting Azeri style. This dance and the music (performed by Bijan Mortazavi) is a modern fusion of Persian and Azeri styles.
Shaliteh Dance – Naser al-Din Shah Qajar ruled Iran from 1848 to 1896. After a trip to Paris, where he went to the ballet, the king invented a new dress for his country's women so that they would look more modern; a short, loose skirt, called a shaliteh, over baggy, colorful pants, and a vest. The dancer wears this charming and flirtatious costume to express the light-hearted spirit of a song by Bijan Mortazavi.
Nelbeki - A dance traditionally performed at weddings in Azerbaijan. The dancers tap out rhythms on tea saucers using silver thimbles, while dancing gracefully in celebration of the occasion. Music: “Tahir” by The Land of Fire, Artist of Azerbaijan
Gavallah Raks/Raghse Daf - The hand drum, which is part of a typical folk music ensemble, is displayed by the dancers, who sometimes hide their faces and peek out coyly from behind the drum. The brisk, energetic jumps, quick spins, back-bends, and kicks are all typical of the exciting Azeri style. This dance and the music (performed by Bijan Mortazavi) is a modern fusion of Persian and Azeri styles.
Uzum Reqsi - In depicting the joys of the grape harvest, the dancers’ movements in this graceful Azeri dance symbolize the fragrance of the freshly-picked grapes and the lovely aspect of the vineyards in the autumn sunshine.
Duniya Gozaran “The World Passes” - The people of Afghanistan have lived through many difficult times during their long history, and dance is almost a forgotten tradition there. The song Duniya Gozaran, performed by Farhad Darya, reminds us that each moment of joy should be treasured, because time passes quickly and youth flies away.
Zim Zim Zim - “Your eyebrows are like bows, your glance is like a lightning bolt, Oh Kajaki, alas, you belong to another.” Music: “Zim Zim” by The Afghan Ensemble
Lalu Labatro, “Ruby Lips” – Pamiri, from the remote Pamir Mountains, the roof of the world, which separate Tajikistan from Afghanistan.
Gulim Mayde, “Little Flower” – a light-hearted, scintillating Tajiki dance, to music of Zokir Rashidi.
Farghana Tanovari – A classical item of Ferghana Valley style. The song is about alienation, separation and unrequited love. The dancers reach out with palms uplifted when they think they see the loved one in the distance, then turn their hands and faces away when he does not appear. Putting one hand behind the ear, then sweeping the hand under the earlobe, means, “Listen for the tinkling sound of my earrings, I will wait for you.”
Dil Yajrasin, “The Happy Heart” - a dance of joy, inviting everyone to celebrate the beauty of life. This dance comes from Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, and blends traditional dance styles from various regions of the country in recognition of the many ethnic groups that are joined together in modern Uzbekistan.
Majnuntol, “Willow Tree” – A dance celebrating the beginning of Spring, the Norouz Festival, when the willow trees put on fresh green foliage. The Uzbek maidens gather on the banks of the Syr Darya and adorn their freshly-braided hair with willow garlands to welcome Spring.
Hayrona (Uighur) – Uighur people are a Turkic ethnic group powerful in Mongolia and eastern Turkestan between the 8th and 12th centuries. Today, they live primarily in western China and Central Asian countries. Uighur dance is famous for its spinning.
Tillo Uzuk “Golden Ring” – a scintillating solo dance in a fusion of Khorezm and Ferghana styles, performed to music of Sherzod Bek. “Your golden ring is sparkling, I give you a flower and your hand is trembling, your ears melt at the sound of my words, your eyes like pearls are gleaming.”
Gozal Fargonalik “Ferghana Beauty” – an expressive trio dance, on a song by Sherzod Bek. “Being a stranger like Majnun, I lost my mind from the beauty of Fergana. Let's celebrate our wedding, my love, till the sun rises in Fergana.”
Koyingdamast “Burning for You” – a dynamic group dance on a Sherzod Bek song
Guloyim "Moonflower" – Oh my Duchess, you filled the road with flowers, the road where you were happy. Now our hearts are filled with the sad sounds of the nights when we cried together.
Khorezm Lyazgi – Khorezm province is the cradle of Zoroastrianism in Central Asia. In Lyazgi, a typical regional dance, the dancers mime holding a hot coal in the palm of the hand, while blowing on it to keep the sacred fire burning. Women of Khorezm are said to be fiery, wild, and flirtatious, as seen in their dance style.
Gaziantep – This colorful, fast-paced line dance comes from the city of Gaziantep in south central Turkey. The dancers wear elaborate headdresses with jingling silver jewelry and wave sparkling handkerchiefs.
Crimean Tatar Ciftitelli – In this intricate and charming dance, the dancers play tambourines, striking their hips, knees, and wrists in time with the music as they spin, sway, and bend.
Historically, in past centuries, Russians would bring in Romani dancers to perform in prominent restaurants. Eventually, Russians themselves began to remake these dances into their own tradition. Gradually, the Russians formed families of performers, living and performing together. Nomad Dancers offers Russian Gypsy dances in solo and group presentations.
Moroccan Veil Rhapsody - Airy silk veils in rainbow colors swirl and flutter as richly costumed dancers create graceful arabesque patterns across the dance floor.
Raqs al Assaya –The Egyptian women’s cane dance was developed as an imitation of tahtiyb, the men’s martial arts dance. Tahtiyb originated from Upper Egypt or the Sa’id, the south of Egypt.
Desi Girl – a super hit from the movie Dostana, this fast-paced dance shows off the sparkling eyes and typical language of the hands that make Indian dance fascinating and fun to watch.
Mayya Mayya – Kathak classical dance steps and sinuous Arabic styling highlight this fusion number, set to a song from the film Guru.
A: Nomad Dancers will be happy to add cultural value to your concert, festival, wedding, or international celebration. Please contact us by email at HYPERLINK "mailto:email@example.com" firstname.lastname@example.org, or telephone Adriane Whalen at (703) 799-0282, a minimum of 6 to 8 weeks before the date of the event.
A: Nomad Dancers can accept requests for dances in a number of different Central Asian and Middle Eastern styles, including Afghan, Arabic, Azeri, Indian, Persian, Tajik, Turkish, Uighur, Uzbek, and more. If you request dances representing a specific culture or group of cultures, we will select from our repertoire to fit the occasion.
A: Our costumes are carefully researched and collected from all over the world to give our dances the authentic flavor of each region.
A: The costumes worn for each dance are authentic examples of regional traditions. Nomad Dancers will perform in the costume that is most appropriate to each national dance.
A: Nomad Dancers is a diverse group of experienced dancers who represent many different ethnicities. The Artistic Directors will select the cast of performers for each presentation based on experience and availability of the dancers. Requests for appearance by specific artists cannot be honored.
A: When planning your event, please be aware that dancers need certain basic amenities in order to prepare for the performance. A clean, well-lit dressing area, with mirror and clothing rack, as near as possible to the stage or performance area must be provided. Hospitality in the form of water and refreshments is expected. If the performance time extends over several hours, kindly provide a meal to the dancers.
A: Please check the following schedule of fees for performances by Nomad Dancers. The fees are based on number of dance items to be presented, duration of event, and distance from the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Transportation cost or mileage fees and overnight accommodations will be added as required. The number of performers who participate does not affect the total cost of the presentation.
Basic wedding package (includes two dance items, plus escorting bridal couple into the reception hall or costumed greeting of guests, if requested): $750-$1000
Festival or educational presentation (includes 2 dances): $500-$1000 Adding additional dance items to the packages above will be charged at the rate of $250 per each individual item.
Full evening concert: $2000-$3000 Full day appearance including multiple dance performances, workshops, and/or strolling in costume: $2500-$3500