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: Ashley Alitz
In 2013 Ashley started taking classes at The Cassandra School in Minneapolis, MN. Learning to dance challenged her in unexpected ways related to self acceptance, confidence and the ability to "be seen." Generally, Ashley is a shy performer and has only performed in groups. Studying the history and context of an ancient (or modern) dance and practicing with other dancers are the simple joys she finds in this community. In 2019-2020, during her time living in the Bay Area, she danced with the Qabila Foundation-Bay Area Chapter, whose goal it is to preserve and share traditional Arab dance from all over the world.
She is currently serving the board as Treasurer but previously (and briefly) served the board as Vice President in 2018.
She enjoys playing outside, gardening, wellness, running her business: North Star Health Mentorship, naps with her savanna cats and spending time with loved ones.
Communications: Emalee Morem
Emalee has been bellydancing 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 bellydance world have been the filming of the bellydance 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 bellydance show Beauties and Beasts in 2015, participating in Virgina’s theater show Reflections in Miami in 2016, and producing the Wizard of Oz Bellydance 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 bellydancing, 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: Position Available
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.