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Our Instructors

Janelle Rodriguez

Janelle, our owner and founder, is a musical, captivating belly dancer who easily moves between styles inspired by Golden Era to modern Egyptian as well as Turkish and North African dances, all grounded in a deep respect for Middle Eastern culture, music, and dance. As a professional instructor and performer based in Santa Cruz, California, where she founded the Desert Dream Dance Company studio, Janelle is also one of the few dancers in the world to earn the highest levels of Salimpour format certifications. She trained extensively under both the late Jamila Salimpour and Suhaila Salimpour and achieved Level 5 certification in the Suhalia Salimpour format (Teaching 1). Janelle is also working on her Level 4 Jamila Salimpour certification (Performance 2), and is a Salimpour School instructor authorized to teach the Suhaila Salimpour Format internationally. 


In addition to performing with Bal Anat and leading the Santa Cruz Salimpour Collective, Janelle serves as artistic director/choreographer of Desert Dream Dance Company and directs the Desert Dream Music Ensemble. Janelle teaches belly dance technique, performance skills, and music at her studio where she also sponsors world-class dancers and musicians from across the globe.


Surreyya Hada

Director of the acclaimed Dangerous Beauties dance troupe and Co-director of Troupe Scimitar, Surreyya is a an award-winning, international performer and instructor. She sings in English and Turkish, and dances regularly solo as well as with several world fusion and rock bands. She has performed for the cast of Cirque du Soleil and is an annual entertainer for Apple, Sandisk and Yahoo corporations and other national and international festivals.  Surreyya is a LEAP program BA awardee via Saint Mary's College of Moraga, CA.  She received her Dance Major Degree at CCSF, is a certified Pilates, Barre and TRX Master Trainer and holds a Guinness Book World Record in Roller Skating.


Jill Baker

A bay area belly dancer who has been active in the community from San Francisco, CA to Madrid, Spain. Jill is a passionate dancer with a deep rooted love for the art, embracing multiple forms of the dance from traditional Egyptian and Cabaret to Fusion. She took her first class nearly 20 years ago and has been promoting belly dance since.​ Jill holds a degree in Respiratory Care and is a Certified Bombay Jam®, Pilates, and suspension training Instructor.  

Jill's student troupe, The Academy, can be seen performing at events in the Santa Cruz and San Jose Bay areas. 


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