Lumani Dance Theatre

Our Dancers

director - Lisa Wylie

Lisa Wylie - Troupe Director

Dance should be fun, stress-reducing, challenging, and as pain free as possible. Dance exercises your mind as well as your body. My goal is to share the joy I receive from expressing myself through music. Belly dance is a dance form for all, from classic folk dance beginnings to tribal fusion styles.

My classical ballet background directs me to respect the origins and history of the dance style. My experience with UCSC Theater Arts/Dance Emphasis inspires me to explore and entertain through dance, but above all, it should be fun.

Inspired by my younger friends at Pennsic and Renaissance Faires, I returned to dancing, at the ripe age of 45. Ugh! What was I thinking? I found belly dancing to be fun, challenging, and community driven. When I was left with a belly dance studio with no teachers - a result of sudden transfer of my friends, teachers, and troupe mates - I began to share my own knowledge of this dance. I found I had a lot to learn, and I still do. Teaching has been challenging and one of the most rewarding journeys of my life. I truly enjoy it.

I focus on the basics and the foundations for good belly dance technique from the inside out. I find it far more important to learn where the movement originates from in the body rather than just making pretty pictures. I hope my students leave class feeling good about themselves and their accomplishments.

This California beach-loving free spirit and my retired military native Alabamian husband, Ed, retired to the south in 1990. I also practice my skills as a wire jeweler and sell on-line or at renaissance faires. Our home is way out in the country and we love it. Ed keeps very busy with his famous dried apple chips and curry dill pickles. His church work and yard work also keeps him out of my hair. Ed has 2 grown daughters who live in California and Virginia. His 2 grandchildren also live in California. Ed is very supportive of my unique endeavors, and if you do meet the elusive Ed at an event or pool party, then you are truly one of the lucky ones.

 

Kelley Blevins

Kelley Blevins

My first exposure to bellydance was ironically the lovely ladies of Lumani hosting a benefit for the Huntsville Humane Society, in late summer of 2008. The featured performer was Jim Boz who was also teaching a workshop that weekend. After thoroughly enjoying the show, I attended the workshop the next day. I was hooked... I started classes with Shahala Liz who in turn brought me to Lisa at Nomadic Tapestry where I have been ever since. I have always had a deep connection to music, and eagerly delved into this new world of exotic rhythms and melodies. Luckily being here, I have had the opportunity to take workshops with some of the best dancers around including Artemis Mourat, Aziza Nawal, Amel Tafsout, Petite Jamilla, and the most influential to me, the amazing Mira Betz. I was a member of the Lunatic Fringe since its inception and moved on to Lumani in late 2010. 

 

Amber

Amber Ponder Skantz

Amber's background includes competitive and studio ballet, lyrical, jazz and hip-hop, modern, liturgical dance, musical theater, yoga, and tap. She began studio dance at age 5 and hasn’t stopped dancing since! Amber has experience teaching all ages, from toddler to adults.

She took her first class with Shahala at Dublin Park in Madison in 2007, and performed with Nalah Caravanserai, an Egyptian troupe under the direction of Safiye before joining Lumani in 2009.

Amber holds a Master of Arts from the University of Louisiana Monroe and currently works in a university library. Belly dance marries Amber’s lifelong loves of history and dance in a wholly new way. She feels blessed to be able give back to the dance community through teaching, and pass on what has been given to her by teaching classes that incorporate and fuse elements of studio dance into belly dance.  

Carol Labriola

Carol Labriola

Carol fell in love with dancing in 2005 when she saw her neighbor fire dancing. She took her first class at Nomadic Tapestry in 2009 with Amber Skantz (a former troupe member) then worked her way into the student troupe and in 2014 was invited to dance with the lovely and talented ladies of Lumani.

One of her favorite aspects of dancing is the community that people share when they dance together. Performing belly dance has also helped her become more in tune with her own body's movement in a way that expanded and improved her career as a massage therapist. And because she is silly, she practiced her dance movements while giving massages!

She has taken workshops with Teejei Brigham, Aziza Nawal, Amel Tafsout, Atremis Mourat, Zoe Jakes, and Moria Chappell. Her recent workshop with Moria awakened her interest in ritualistic dancing. She continues to look for ways to expand her skills, knowledge, and experience in dancing (ritualistic dance in particular) and hopes to one day develop and teach her own style of ritual dance that is meaningful and unique.

Outside of dance, she loves playing with her doggie pibble and catcats, spending time outside in the woods, cooking and chopping vegetables, singing, and generally arting.

 

Lea Nichols

Lea Nichols

Lea discovered bellydance through the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) in 2002. Her boyfriend at the time (now her husband) started taking drum classes, she started dancing, and the rest is history!

Her dance journey has taken her to workshops and shows around the Southeast and beyond. She has studied a variety of dance styles over the years, from Classical Egyptian to American Tribal, and has taken classes with amazing teachers from all over the country and around the world.

For Lea, performing with Lumani is a privilege and a joy. She finds it inspiring to work with such a creative and supportive group of dancers.

 

teachers - Jennifer Sheely

Jennifer Sheely

Jennifer became involved with the studio in January of 2009. She was drawn in by an open house event and quickly fell in love with both the dance form and the environment. She immersed herself in classes and workshops. She became a part of the student troupe after six months, and joined the performance group a couple of years later. She began teaching beginner classes at the studio in 2012 and went on to teach an ongoing strength and flexibility class for belly dancers. In June of 2015 she was certified in Myra Krien's SEEDs (Self-esteem, Empowerment and Education through Dance) program.

Jennifer hopes to share the joy and beauty of this wonderful art form in a safe and supportive environment and loves teaching students of all ages.

 

Melanie Guerrero

Melanie Valle Valentin

Melanie Valentin began bellydancing in 2010 after agreeing with a friend that they would take classes together. This friend never followed through, but Melanie dared to try and very soon she had a new love. It wasn’t long until she proved her skills and talent, and made her way into the student troupe, Nomadic Fringe. After performing with the student troupe for several years she was eventually welcomed to the main troupe, Lumani.

Melanie loves performing with swords, improving her technical skills, fusing other dance styles with belly dance and more recently she’s challenged her creativity by choreographing her own dances.

In 2018 she was invited to become an instructor, but she still looks forward to honing her bellydance prowess even more.

Website by Shanna Bocchino