Saturday & Sunday November 2nd & 3rd, 2019
Performance Saturday at 7 PM; Show Tickets $25  Buy Tickets Here!
Lebanon Elks “The Big Red Barn”
150 Heater Road, Lebanon, NH

Join us for our 10th annual festival! We’re having live music in every class to celebrate!


Cost: $300 for the entire weekend (including show ticket and daily lunch) Monthly payment plan of $30 per month is available by emailing when registration opens.  

Full Workshop Registration opens January 11th, 2018 at 7:15 P.M.

Single Class & One Day Workshop registrations open June 1st, 2019, space permitting

To register: Please visit or call (603) 304-8676

Shimmyathon opens Saturday and Sunday at 10:00 AM for registration, shopping, and stretching.


Saturday Band: Mitch Kalthounas, Mohammed Mejaour and Jamal Sinno


Mitchell Kaltsunas has been delighting Arabic music fans in the United States with his singing for over two decades. Kaltsunas, who comes from Greek, Egyptian, and Syrian heritage, started playing guitar at nine years old. Soon, however, the Western string instrument lost out to the Middle Eastern oud and derbakke (tablah) for the young musician's attention. Kaltsunas credits his Near Eastern roots for putting him close to Arabic music. FMI:

Mohammed Mejaour is a Moroccan born musician with an innate understanding of how to create music. As a child in elementary school, he taught himself harmonica, and performed Andalusian music for school events. Mohammed then taught himself drumming and joined the El Massiri Band at the House of Youth. Next, he taught himself to play the nay and began to play on stage with the Baddi Band and then the Layali Zaman Band. Mohammed performed for special occasions, in hotels and casinos, with both Jewish and Arabic/Berber bands, and also played base guitar for Rock & Roll. He moved to the USA in 1981 and began to perform with Mitchell Kaltsunas at the Sultan’s Tent. Mohammed branched out to perform at many clubs in Massachusetts, including The Averof, the El Morocco, the Casablanca, and The Middle East. He feels fortunate to have met and played with some of the best musicians across the USA and abroad, but holds a special place for New England, where he continues to play the nay, darbuka, riq, and all sorts of percussion instruments for your entertainment, one and all.

Lebanese-born Jamal Sinno studied qanun at the Lebanese National Conservatory under virtuoso Mohammad Sabsabi. Since moving to the U.S. in 1981, Jamal has performed with leading song stars of the Middle East including George Wassouf and Kazem Al-Sahar. He performs with Simon Shaheen’s Near Eastern Music Ensemble.








Dancing the Rhythm with Riena (MA)

Saturday 10:45 AM-12:00 PM

Do you ever watch dance clips with the sound off?  When the dancer embodies the music, it drives you continue to watch and turn it up! Mohammed and Reina combine their strengths and knowledge to create a workshop to enhance dancers unity with the music.  Rhythm is the scaffolding that supports the intricate beauty of Arabic music.  Mohammed will perform popular rhythms in Arabic Dance Art Form; Riena will teach hip movements, variations, and travel steps that illustrate these rhythms. Bring this wisdom into your dance to become one with the music.

BIO:  Second Generation dancer, Riena, began performing to live music at age 17 in restaurants, clubs, haflas, and weddings throughout New England. She worked with Mike and Buddy Sarkissian in New England and Las Vegas.  Riena performed at long lost clubs including The Averof, Bishops, and Destinations. Being the daughter of Azziza (Cissy DeSilva), Riena grew up with a variety of music from the Middle East, North Africa; and predominantly from Anatolia.  She learned to dance to this music through immersion.  Her organic response to the music is intuitively authentic.  Riena first performed with Mohammed Mejaour at The El Morocco, when she was 19 years old.

10 classic and folkloric and Arabic hip moves a dancer should have under your belt with Shadia (MA)

Saturday 12:15-1:30 PM

Shadia will share movements from the Golden Age of Raqs Sharqi from Egypt and Eastern Arabia. Roots technique will be included.

BIO:  Shadia has performed internationally with full show including  band, singer, folkdance, Sharqi soloist and monologist since 1975 with top artists from Egypt and Lebanon. In Lebanese and Egyptian  folk dance she was director of Mirza Dance Ensemble from 1985-2015 as well as member, choreographer and costumer of Boston based Baalbek Folklorique,  Artistic Dir. of Cedars of Lebanon Folkloric Troupe and World Lebanese Cultural Union Youth Debke Troupe. She has performed as Rakasa Sharbieh (Eastern Dance Soloist) since 1972 and still social dances, as she started, dancing socially in the Turkish and Lebanese Community since 1965!  She has been teaching since 1972 and many of her students are now successful dancers on local and international scene. In 2008 she created her roots of belly dance technique that is drawn from her years of classical and folkloric training and is in the process of creating a DVD. She plays sagat, riqq and tabla to every rhythm she has danced to and has been known to play her late husband's tabl beledi for special occasions. She is also a costumer for theatre/dancers of all kinds.

Golden Era Belly Dance with Amerein (MA)

Saturday 2:30-3:45 PM

Connect to the roots of raqs sharqi through the drama, romance and elegance of the 1920s - 40's  "Golden Era" of Egyptian dance! Amarein duet will present vintage combinations and signature moves of iconic dancers such as Samia Gamal, Tahiya Karioka and Naeema Akef.

BIO:  Yael Zohar-Gabay has been dancing since age 14. In addition to Egyptian Bellydance, she is trained in classical ballet and Flamenco and owns a Pilates Studio in Newton MA. Performances include Suzanne Dallal Center in Tel Aviv, Biblos restaurant in Jaffa and Layaleena in Cambridge.

Hanan debuted in Boston's Arabic dance stages in 2000 and continues to perform regularly in the Boston area's Arabic venues. Since 2007, Hanan has been a featured performer at Byblos Restaurant in Norwood. Recent performances include the Helping Hips Charity Gala (2008, 2009 and 2010,) MassRaqs 2010, and as a guest artist in the BellyBeat “Reflections” show in 2012.

Since 2015, Hanan and Yael have performed as the duet "Amarein," featuring classic raqs sharqi as well as Egyptian folk and shaabi dances. Performances include the "FIVE" show in 2017, Middle Eastern Mosaic in 2017, and Vintage Oriental in 2018. Amarein translates from Arabic language as "two moons."

Meet the Band: Mitch Kalthounas, Mohammed Mejaour, and Jamal Sinno

Saturday 4:00-5:15 PM

Amity will lead a Q&A with 10 questions from dancers about working with a band, the band will share their history, favorite stories, and what things they feel important for dancers to know. Most importantly, there will be time for everyone to free dance to the band’s favorite songs.



Sunday Band: George and Nick Kokoras and Mike Gregian!

BIO: For over 30 years, The Kokoras Ensemble has delighted Greek audiences throughout New England and the rest of the country performing at special events. Their extensive repertoire of songs includes all of the traditional regional folk songs of Greece, as well as the most popular hits from Greek nightclubs. The Kokoras Ensemble prides itself on using only the latest, state-of-the-art technology to enhance their finely-honed musical talents. George and Nick Kokoras are brothers with impressive musical backgrounds, both graduates of the Gavianni School of Music. The brothers played with The Athenians for several years, and by 1965, they began appearing together in nightclubs and at functions throughout the United States.

Mike Gregiani s a dancer’s drummer, clarinet player, singer, and musician of many talents. Mike has been performing up and down the East Coast for Decades, including the Fred Elias Ensemble and the Mosaic Ensemble.

Etiquette for Performing with Live Band with Tava (CT)

Sunday 10:45 AM-12:00 PM

Learn the nuances of how to properly dance *with* musicians including spatial considerations, how (and when) to play finger cymbals, allowing space for spontaneity and how to be on the same page for spontaneity and how to be on the same page for song endings.

BIO: Tava is a lifelong dancer and student who stumbled into her first belly dance class nearly 20 years ago. Her style is Vintage Oriental with Turkish flair. She maintains a busy performance schedule in New York City and the tri-state area, performing at restaurants, nightclubs, theaters and cultural events on a regular basis. Tava has also taught weekly Middle Eastern dance classes since 2004 with strong emphasis on her 3 C's: culture, context and community. She has performed with Elena Lentini’s Caravanserai Dance Theater, Andrea Beeman's "Sparks in the Dark" and Dalia Carella Dance Collective. A trained counselor and former LMT, Tava seeks to offer classes that improve body image and confidence as well as anatomical training and strategies for injury prevention.

For more information visit


The Gooey Chifti with Zobeida (NY)

Sunday 12:15-1:30 PM

In this workshop, we will be using elements of modern dance to expand how sensually and fluidly we move to a basic chiftitelli rhythm. We will learn to connect to the instruments and how to maximize our movements to match the notes of the music. And lastly, we will be pulling dramatic elements from working with live music like the beautiful dancers did in the heyday of American cabaret.

BIO:  Zobeida Ghattas is a New York city-based belly dancer of Russian and Arabic origins. After studying with legendary teachers Anahid Sofian and Morocco from the age of seven, she started working as a professional belly dancer at the age of 15 in clubs, restaurants and special event venues. Since then, Zobeida has worked with many talented NYC artists, musicians and dancers. Currently, besides gigging she runs weekly classes, teaches workshops at festivals and belly dance events and owns the costume jewelry boutique, Esme's Closet.



Entering and Exiting to live music with Amity Alize (NH)

Sunday 2:30-3:45 PM

Practicing entering and exiting the stage is super important for dancers as it sets the tone and leaves the final impression with the audience. We’ll work on tried and true techniques as well as practice with the band so you can hear the cues in the music for when to enter or exit the stage!

BIO: Amity Alize has studied Middle Eastern and Oriental Dances since 2001. Focusing on tying the folkloric and modern styles together through her own research, she travels internationally studying dance on an ongoing basis. Her mission is to empower others through performances, workshops, and classes to step out of their boxes, increase their self-esteem and positive self-image, live through the music, and most of all, just have fun and be authentically themselves.

As the founder and director of Raq-On Dance, Amity has taught over a thousand people to learn Belly Dance. In 2015 she was invited to teach and perform in Cairo, Egypt, as part of the Camp Negum Dance Festival. She is the Director of the annual Shimmyathon Dance Festival and has hosted over fifty events including national and international dancers. She has written three ebooks on the business, teaching, and event management side of performing arts for dancers. Amity Alize performs at weddings, celebrations, theatre shows, fundraisers, and venues with Middle Eastern Bands. Her style can be best described as Classical Golden Era Egyptian fused with Vintage American Oriental. She manages Raq-On Dance’s student Troupe, the Raq-ettes, which perform folkloric and modern Middle Eastern Dance styles throughout the Northeast.


Meet the Band: George Kokoras, Nick Kokoras and Mike Gregian!

Saturday 4:00-5:15 PM

Amity will lead a Q&A with 10 questions from dancers about working with a band, the band will share their history, favorite stories, and what things they feel important for dancers to know. Most importantly, there will be time for everyone to free dance to the band’s favorite songs.

Would you like to teacher at Shimmyathon 2020? We're accepting instructor applications August 1st-September 1st, 2019 (not earlier, not later!): Click here