Sarah Turner is one of the brightest stars of Australia's
younger generation of bellydancers. After spending most
of her life pursuing many forms of dance, she fell in love
with Middle Eastern dance for its grace of movement, evocative
music and compelling history. Sarah trained at Underbelly
Dance Studio in Melbourne and has travelled through Turkey
and Rajasthan researching local dance traditions. Sarah's
unique dance style is influenced by Turkish oriental and
folkloric dance, and Egyptian and American Tribal Style,
incorporating sword work for dramatic effect. Sarah is an
experienced dance teacher.
Oud, alto saxophone, piano accordion, vocals, 6-string
Mark Planigale is one of Australia's foremost musicians
of Croatian origin, a skilled composer and arranger of Eastern
European repertoire and an engaging live performer. Mark
has developed his trademark fiery accordion and vocal style
over the past ten years as a member of bands including Zarafa
and BabaGanoush. Mark has a deep knowledge of South Slavic
musical traditions; his playing shows strong Gypsy, Klezmer
and Balkans influences. Mark's oud style has a distinct
North African flavour, reflecting his long association with
Moroccan master musician Brahim Benhim.
Amela Ušanovic grew up in the heart of the Balkans, in
the Bosnian town of Goražde, and from an early age she showed
a gift for performance and an intense interest in the Slavic,
Romani and Muslim cultural traditions that surrounded her.
Since her arrival in Australia in the mid-90's, Amela has
inspired many with her passionate and inviting approach
to sharing the music and dance traditions of her native
region. Amela is a powerful and unaffected singer, blessed
with an outstanding voice and a rich repertoire. She also
has many years' experience as a teacher of Balkans circle
and line dances.
Pin Rada has 15 years' experience in composing and performing
improvisational instrumental music. Pin's proficiency on
a bewildering array of instruments reflects his passionate
love affair with the music of Turkey and the Middle East;
his haunting soloing reveals a deep spirituality underlying
his music. Pin's calibre as a musician has been recognised
by the award of several travelling grants, and he has studied
with master musicians in Turkey, Greece and India. Pin has
performed with many leading bands including Domingo, Camel
Magic and Brahim Benhim's La Kasbah Moroccan Ensemble.
Alistair Lord is well-known in Melbourne bellydance circles
as a powerful and grounded percussionist. His interest in
Middle Eastern music was nurtured when he lived for a year
in Dubai, absorbing local culture and being exposed to many
fine Arabic musicians. Alistair's percussion style is based
around Turkish finger-syle techniques on darabuka, bendir,
req and daf; he also incorporates African and Indian influences
in his playing. Alistair appears regularly with drum and
bellydance ensembles including WassaWumba, Za'atar, Persian
Pulse, and Raqs Gothique.
Ashley Jones is an accomplished violinist with a strong
technique and a flair for atmospheric, virtuosic solos that
are a highlight of Zarafa's act. Ashley's extensive classical
training culminated in study at the Hobart Conservatorium;
his many festival appearances with bands including Zarafa,
Sweet Painted Ladies and the Counterfeit Gypsies are a testament
to his versatility as a folk and world musician. Ashley
is in demand as a session musician and has a long string
of recordings to his credit.
Ben Last is one of Melbourne's best-known world music percussionists.
An inspirational and dynamic player, he is an innovator
in combining kit and hand drumming techniques to produce
an explosive live percussion sound. Ben has performed with
many top-knotch ensembles and is a member of leading percussion
trio Fingers of Fury. He performs regularly for Underbelly
Dance Studio productions. Ben is also an experienced electronic
music producer and provides the rhythmic drive for popular
psy-trance duo Mantrix.