About Us

Mission Statement

The Guild of Middle Eastern Dance is an organization of professional and avocational Middle Eastern dancers. It was established in 1981 to help promote Middle Eastern dance, provide dancers with performance opportunities, and promote camaraderie within the dance community.

2020-2021 Board Members


First chair: Renee Szudy

Renee started belly dancing in 1996 when she happened upon a class Cassandra was teaching at the U--she instantly fell in love with the music and movements!  She has been studying under Cassandra ever since and joined Jawaahir Dance Company in 2006. Renee regularly performs as a member of Jawaahir and as a soloist.  Her favorite way to share the art of Arab dance is through teaching and she holds weekly classes at the Cassandra School. Renee is very excited to have the opportunity to serve the local dance community as First Chair and to be working with a great group of Guild board members. When not dancing, Renee would usually rather be dancing. She also enjoys spending time with her husband and two sons, organic gardening, wild mushroom foraging, fixing up her duplex and working at her family-business, Eastern Shore Natural Health.


Secretary: Autumn Pennington

On a whim that was also a lifelong itch, Autumn started taking belly dance classes in 2008 through Bloomington-Richfield Community Education. By 2012, forever in pursuit of more dance experience and performance opportunity, a Guild membership, several years of workshops, and a variety of haflas and festivals followed. Autumn has been thrilled to venture into theatrical performances, beginning with a guest performance with Smiling Lune in 2015, and in 2016 joining both Al-Bahira Middle Eastern Dance Theater and the Blue Lotus Middle Eastern Dancers. Autumn also really enjoys teaching beginning belly dance students.


Treasurer:  Cath Petersen

Cath Petersen

Dancing is a lifelong interest and passion of mine. I was introduced to the fun of dance as a small girl. My father invited me to dance with him – he put my feet on top of his shoes and we “danced” together – likely we were at a wedding dance with a band playing polkas.

In my 20s, I moved to Minneapolis and I met someone who suggested we take ballet lessons together. In my 30s, I discovered contra and Cajun dance. In my 40s, I discovered swing dance. In my 50s, I discovered tango and belly dance. The tango and belly dance have been my favorite forms of dance since I turned 50.

I’m thrilled to be a member of Khazanah; a group of dancers over the age of 39 who learn and perform choreographies created by Cassandra.


Communications: Emalee Morem


Emalee has been belly dancing professionally since 2005 and teaching since 2008. She is the director of two Twin Cities dance companies: Bellydonna and the Blue Lotus Dancers. She is a featured dancer at the Mediterranean Cruise Cafe and Ansari’s Grill. Some of Emalee’s notable experiences in the belly dance world have been the filming of the belly dance performance DVD “Al Dunia” in Los Angeles in 2010, participating in Bellydance Evolution’s Alice in Wonderland performances on the East Coast in 2014, producing the theatrical belly dance show Beauties and Beasts in 2015, participating in Virgina’s theater show Reflections in Miami in 2016, and producing the Wizard of Oz Belly dance Show in 2018 and in 2019 as part of the MN Fringe Festival.  Emalee has taken a break from teaching public classes for the time being. When Emalee is not belly dancing, she enjoys playing with her two children, cooking, eating, horseback riding, and all things Harry Potter.


Social Media Officer:  LaDonna von Stoetzel

LaDonna 'Adara Din' von Stoetzel is a Minneapolis-based dancer; she is a certified teacher-trained FCBD® Sister Studio, and member of Al-Bahira Middle Eastern Dance Theater. She practices several genres of belly dance - Folkloric, Cabaret, Fusion, and FatChanceBellyDance® Style. LaDonna has a small herd of cats, spends too much time on the internet - updating the GoMED blog, Instagram, and Twitter - and loves flying her nerd flag whenever possible.


Website Officer:  Laura Imholte

I started belly dancing at the age of 42 after attending the Renaissance Festival.  Seeing the variety of age, shape, size or style of dancer along with all the sparkle and jingle - it just fit.  I have danced with several troupes of different styles from fusion, to Turkish to traditional Egyptian and have found myself with my own mixed-level troupe that dances to the call of the music (whatever it may be) and for the love of dance.  Having been a Guild member for years and finally having the time, I am excited to join the board for the first time.  I'm excited to work with this great team and can't wait to see what this year brings!

 

Festival/Hafla Coordinator: Bonnie Berquam

I love to share the total empowerment I feel when I dance. Through dance I express my joy of music. I connect with the Earth, with my body and with others. I've had the pleasure of performing many styles of belly dance over 20 years for various audiences. I love this playful, sparkly expression of music through movement. From cabaret to fusion to courageous clown, I seek to speak from the heart and satisfy my heart’s desire. I have volunteered on the Guild board for many years because I believe in the value of self-expression through dance. It serves the soul in so many ways. I am happy to help make that available to our community.


We are always looking for volunteers to help on committees and in many other capacities! To volunteer, please contact us.