Shajara is a Chicago‐based fusion bellydancer who blends influences from Middle Eastern, Spanish, tribal, and modern dance, among other styles. In her youth, Shajara studied theater, jazz dance and martial arts, in addition to the musical pursuits of guitar and harpsichord. In 2000, she walked into her first bellydance workshop, taught by the tribal group Read My Hips. Shajara later obtained a BA in English and Anthropology, the latter discipline which allowed her the opportunity to spend nine months studying and working in Morocco. It was in this culturally‐rich country that she was exposed to both traditional Berber dance and Oriental cabaret. Shajara devoted extensive academic study to North Africa and Algerian Rai music, and years later was able to perform her first drum solo alongside the British‐Algerian Rai singer Abdelkader Saadoun.
Shajara's love of travel and curiosity of foreign countries has led her to explore such places as Spain, Egypt, Greece, Lebanon, Turkey, Hungary, and France. After some years of wanderlust, she resolved to continue her studies, and obtained an MA in Middle Eastern/North African Studies. Although school and travel had long hindered her ability to study dance on regular basis, in 2009, Shajara moved to Chicago in order to pursue dance on a more serious level, where she has taken classes and workshops with both local and international dancers including Jolie Roberson (tribal fusion), Mae Phillips (gothic fusion), AsaliNaimah (oriental), Mahira (oriental), and Zoe Jakes (tribal fusion). She also explores other dance forms which she frequently incorporates into her dance style, including tango, flamenco, and burlesque. In 2010, Shajara joined the Girlie-Q variety show ensemble, which inspired her to develop theatrical, character-based choreographies and to incorporate non-traditional concepts into bellydance. Currently an independent performer, she has since danced in a variety of capacities and venues.
Shajara presently resides in Madrid, Spain, where she has taken classes and workshops with international dancers including Morgana (tribal fusion/funky), Elisheva (tribal fusion/modern), Monica Sade (world fusion), Kati "La Zingara" (flamenco-oriental), and Victor Bravo (flamenco), among others. Currently, she primarily studies with Lady Vamp (tribal fusion/burlesque), Crystal Silmi (urban fusion), and Chandra (gothic fusion).
Shajara is one of the founders of Vaulted Chamber Productions, as the former organizer of BellyRock (heavy metal meets bellydance), and current producer of Cabaret Noir (dark cabaret and vaudeville).
In September 2017, Shajara was thrilled to be a part of the dance ensemble under the direction of choreographer Zarina Danza, in the reunion concert of the legendary Spanish symphonic metal band Stravaganzza.
Find out more about Shajara in this interview, courtesy of Rock Metal Dance.
"Dance, when you're broken open. Dance, if you've torn the bandage off. Dance, in the middle of the fighting. Dance, in your blood. Dance, when you're perfectly free."