Apsara is a student-level performing bellydance troupe under the creative direction of Kaitlyn. They study various styles of bellydance and perform at local and regional events through North Carolina and beyond. Each member of Apsara brings her own unique energy, dance experience and talent to the troupe which adds a dynamic flavor to their performances. In addition to studying and performing with Kaitlyn, members regularly attend workshops, participate in bellydance related events and co-host the annual "Down East Bellydance & Drum Fest", an event committed to promoting to art of bellydance in eastern North Carolina.
Meet the Ladies of Apsara
Cher Burke (Assistant Director of Apsara)
Cher has been studying with Kaitlyn since her first class in Sept 2007. She is also an original member of Kaitlyn’s student troupe, the Apsara Dancers and acts as the Assistant Director. Cher found out about Kaitlyn from a news article in the Max Magazine portion of the Daily News. She had been looking for something to do in the evenings while her husband was working and was captivated by the photo of Kaitlyn on the cover. She read the article and put it aside but found herself reading it again later that evening. When she picked it up again in the morning, she figured some one was telling her something so she wrote down the phone number and contacted Kaitlyn that same day – the rest is history! Cher has taken workshops from Gina of Atlanta, Fahtiem, Blue Moon Dance Co., Mara of Cary, The Indigo, Hannan Sultan, Nahla Hamad of Greenville, Khalida Mahira, Bozenka, Myra Krien, Zafira Dance Co., Donna Mejia, John Compton, Zoe Jakes, Jill Parker, Ahava, Amani Jabril and of course, Kaitlyn. She continues to attend workshops with the enthusiastic support of Kaitlyn, as well as taking private lessons from Kaitlyn in Kaitlyn’s other passion, Indian dance.
With no previous dance experience at all, Cher had to force herself to attend that first class but has found great support, enormous love and valued friendships from her dance sisters and hopes she is dancing twenty years from now!
Andi has never had any formal dance training. She first discovered Middle Eastern dance at a young age with the S.C.A. in Germany. It wasn’t until May 2001, while living in the Greenville, NC, that her passion for the dance inspired her to take classes with Donna Whitley. There she met and befriended her fellow class mates, with whom she became a member of the troupe “Mirage” and later a co-founder of the troupe "NAJ". For 9 years, she studied exclusively with Donna, all the while taking workshops with a variety of instructors and attending local and regional dance events. It was in 2009 that she met Kaitlyn and began taking classes with her in October of that same year. Andi says, “After all these years of being involved in this art, I am still amazed everyday about the beauty of Middle Eastern Dance.”
A native of Jacksonville, NC, Kim first expressed interest in the art of bellydance in late 2003. However, with the lack of a local instructor, she studied tapes in her spare time. In 2007, while running a random Google search, Kim discovered that an introductory class to bellydance was being offered locally, by professional bellydancer Kaitlyn Lewis. Kim then took her first class, meeting others with the same interests. The following year, she joined Kaitlyn's student troupe, the Apsara Dancers. Since then, she has had a blast performing, and hopes to expand her knowledge of the art.
Elizabeth Hansen has studied classical Vaganova style ballet since childhood. She auditioned and was accepted into the American Ballet Theatre, under the artistic direction of Mikhail Baryshnikov, but unfortunately was not able to fulfill her dance dreams due to unfortunate events at that time. She started taking belly dance classes with a friend in 2008 who insisted that trying something new would be good for a change. After her first class, she was captivated by the graceful movements and energetic expression of the dance. She has studied Middle Eastern Dance ever since, with renown Belly Dance extraordinaire/artist Kaitlyn Lewis. Elizabeth has joined and is a member of Apsara student dance troupe in 2011 and has taken advantage of the many performing opportunities in the Down East Area.
Laura has been dancing on and off since she was a small child. Over her life she has studied Ballet, jazz, modern, ballroom, hip hop and of coure belly dance! She first started belly dancing when she was 16 at her local community center, and continued classes on and off until she found Kaitlyn in 2009 with whom she has continues classes with ever since. In addition to dancing, laura also designs belly dance costumes to sell on etsy, rides horses and teaches yoga. Laura is a certified Kunga Yoga teacher. She Began practicing in 2007 and registered with the yoga alliance in 2013 after completing her 200 hour training at the Wilmington Yoga Center. Laura epically loves sharing and teaching yoga with people who think they are not strong enough to do it! She believes that yoga has something to offer to everyone and is a great way to heal and grow.
From a small rural town in Pennsylvania, Ciji would have never dreamed to be a part of a dance as culturally and aesthetically rich as bellydancing. In 2011 her first encounter with belly dance was at a local Mediterranean restaurant where Kaitlyn was performing. She was mesmerized and knew she just had to investigate this realm of wonder further! Looking for a creative outlet that would promote personal growth, she was compelled to attend a beginner’s bellydance class taught by Kaitlyn. Bellydancing nurtures not only her creative spirit, but her feminine spirit as well. Bellydancing is "soul food". Ciji is appreciative that bellydance found her, and is grateful to Kaitlyn for providing and cultivating the opportunities for others to be part of this wonderful dance community. She would also like to give a shout out to her fabulous husband and four children for their love and support in bellydance and in life!.
Melissa was in Kaitlyn’s inaugural Jacksonville, N.C., class in 2007 and was an original member of Kaitlyn’s student troupe, the Apsara Dancers.
Melissa studied several dance styles under Kaitlyn including Egyptian and American Cabaret belly dance, American Tribal Style, Tribal Fusion and World Fusion belly dance. Through Kaitlyn’s teachings, Melissa was able to introduce a variety of props such as zills, veils and swords to her dance.
In 2010, Melissa moved to Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., where she continued studying the art of belly dance with instructor, Patricia Guffey Matos.
In 2015, Melissa moved to Iwakuni, Japan. Sadly, there are no local belly dance groups there. To fill the void, Melissa starting studying the ancient art of Hula under kumu in training, "Alaka'i", aka Jess Crowther.
Annie Lamb is known as the Mother of Frenchies, lives in Eastern North Carolina with her enchanting husband. As a modern Renaissance woman, she dabbles in the ways of the wordsmith, tripping the (stage) lights fantastic, and weaving the web of the universe. She runs on black coffee and dark chocolate. Her love of dancing began in 1977 at the age of 5, training in various disciplines including ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, clogging and modern. She has also taught ballet, tap and theater from 1994 to 1999. During that time, she directed the Nutcracker as well as choreographed many dance routines for local community musical theater. She has rekindled her love of dance, after a hiatus to raise a family, with encouragement from Kaitlyn Lewis to join her Intro to Belly dance class in 2012. Since then, she has taken belly dance and ballroom dance workshops, attended belly dance, ballet and tap classes and has returned to performing.
Jen Avila, AKA, Juni Nix is active duty and while on deployment in 2008, she saw an Egyptian belly dancer in Bahrain. This is when she instantly fell in love with Belly dancing. When she returned home, she found Kaitlyn Lewis and this is where her story begins. Kaitlyn helped Jen tap into her inner self and find what she was missing. Jen studied and soaked up all that she could and found her niche with Tribal sword. And that was when Juni Nix was born.
Juni Nix had performed in various venues with Kaitlyn, but unfortunately, due to operational commitments, she has put dancing on hold. She is currently stationed on the USS Abraham Lincoln, gearing up for a world deployment. But never fear, she will be back and doing what she loves.
April 21st - Jacksonville, NC
"Relay for Life"
June 23rd - Winston-Salem, NC (website)
"Shimmy for the Shelter"
June 30th - New Bern, NC