Bios - Shimmy Soul Fire & Belly Dance, Chicago, IL

Xerus

 


Chicago fire dancer Xerus was first introduced to "Poi", a New Zealand based art form,  in 2003 at the Burning Man festival in Black Rock City Nevada.

There he met a wonderfully spirited group from Chicago some of whom had been performing for many years. First learning Poi in 2003, Xerus has been practicing this art form on and off since that time.

His style in executing Poi comes from his previous history of studying martial arts under Chicago based Kyoshi John Venson (8th degree black belt).

Xerus performs regularly in Chicago fire dance activities including the Chicago Fire Tribe sponsored "Full Moon Jams", "Give Peace a Dance" (a monthly event held in Chicago) private parties, family reunions, baby showers, nightclubs and fashion shows.

Xerus's inspirations include:

Banyan, Christopher Fawcett, Liz Campanella, and the guy who first taught Xerus how to spin fire, Louiz Bragamanti. 

An artist at heart yet architect by education, he holds his Bachelors from University of Illinois in Chicago (UIC). Hardworking and innovative, he practiced real estate development 12 years then moved to Amsterdam to pursue an independent practice of designing and manufacturing custom furniture and lighting. www.bkedesigns.com 


Today, Xerus performs Poi spinning as a form of entertainment and meditation as he duets with his wife and business partner AsaliNaimah.

To book Xerus, email us at info@shimmysoul.com.


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AsaliNaimah


Pittsburgh native and Chicago belly dancer Asali Naimah is a performance artist and instructor who performs throughout the U.S. and has appeared in shows both in Turkey and Egypt.

AsaliNaimah performs with Scott Wilson and his band Effendi in New York!

She began her earliest training and inspiration in "belly dance" (also referred to as Raks Sharki, Oriental, Egyptian or Middle Eastern dance) with its legends and stars including: Schadia of Atlanta, the late Serena Wilson & staff, Yousry Sharif, Anahid Sophian, and Eva Cernik and continues to study currently with Jasmin Jahal where she recently received her Level I Teaching Certification and other U.S. and International instructors via workshops and private lessons.

While mostly exposed to Turkish, Egyptian and AmAsaliNaimah visits the Sphinx - Cairo, Egypterican cabaret styles of  belly dance, her unique style is often described as “organic” and “innately feminine” by her clients and peers.

In her teens, AsaliNaimah attended performing arts schools part-time to study ballet, jazz, tap, modern dance, theater and voice. In college, she co-captained the illustrious "Ebony Fire" dance troupe and co-founded "Majestic" basketball dance troupes (both known for fusing jazz, hip hop and modern dance) at the prestigious Hampton University.

Today AsaliNaimah jokes that her best training came from her family. "I grew up in a very warm and creative household. As a child my dad loved to entertain us. He'd play drums, sing, and dance around the house with my mom. We'd even have impromptu ‘family jam sessions’ and were known to inspire neighbors and their children to grab anything musical to join the fun!" It’s no surprise that AsaliNaimah fell in love with belly dance after her first class in 1996. "To me expressing rhythms through dance and playing finger cymbals (aka zills or zagat) just felt natural." 

A petite yet powerful performer, AsaliNaimah has appeared in upscale venues, stage shows, weddings, restaurants and special events. Her energy, stylized cymbals, elegance and well-honed audience skills make her a highly sought after dancer. A natural born entertainer, AsaliNaimah admits she sometimes AsaliNaimah performs for 50th Birthday Party in New York.can't resist using “vocal percussion” during shows to warm-up unsuspecting audiences. "It's a blast to watch folks scan the room for an instrument or drummer when they first hear the sound... Everyone gets a laugh after they realize it’s just me… literally dancing to a beat of my own!" Not just one to solo, AsaliNaimah also performs as a duet with her husband Xerus (aka BK), a multi-talented fire dancer / poi spinner.

When she's not performing or teaching belly dance classes in Chicago, AsaliNaimah taps into other endeavors she feels complete her. "It surprises some to learn I've worked in corporate America for many years. Back when I worked as a research analyst, a manager once told me how impressed she was that someone so creative could also possess such an analytical mind!"

A long time youth mentor, AsaliNaimah delivers cardio dance fitness, life skills and career prep workshops to teens in Chicago when she can. She believes that working at her art and giving back are equally important. "Since my family has always loved the arts and since this dance is an art form, I get to use both the gifts that bring me joy as well as the ones that add value to society. I think this approach strikes the balance needed to be sane, healthy and truly happy." With her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Hampton University, AsaliNaimah proves that brains, beauty, talent and compassion can be a full package deal. To book AsaliNaimah or learn about her group and private belly dance lessons, contact us at info@shimmysoul.com.

Want to see Asali Naimah or Xerus Perform? Click Here!