Meet the Gypsy Caravan Dancers, International
Sherry Coffey…intoxicated with the dance
There’s something intoxicating about dance, feeling the music and letting it come out in expressive movement. The whole organism is involved; the ears to listen, the brain to process, the body from toes to fingertips to engage. And yet when the flow happens, we think of none of these things, being in the moment but yet transcending time.
Currently residing in Fort Myers, a small city in SW Florida (USA), you will find me most days of the week dancing. In addition to Gypsy Caravan Tribal Bellydance®, I am also known for raks sharki and Polynesian dance. Although I love to perform and worked as a professional bellydancer for 15 years, my main calling these days is as a teacher, troupe director and event promoter.
Not long after I started teaching (20-plus years ago!) I decided to expand my horizons and began the study of Tribal Bellydance via DVD, as that was the only method available to me at the time. Eagerly learning to dance for the first time many years ago at the University of Washington in Seattle, I was very tuned into the US West Coast style of dance and Paulette’s format appealed to me. Several years later I was fortunate to attend my first in-person workshop with Paulette in Florida and was astounded that I could truly do this dance. This revelation led to many trips to Oregon to study directly with Paulette, and in 2009 I became one of the earliest certified GCTB teachers outside of Portland. In my journeys, I met amazing people and could not help but be impressed by the devotion of dancers from all over the world.
Now after much more study, certifications and hard work, I am so happy to be able to share this fabulous dance with incredible women through multiple levels of weekly classes as well as through workshops that connect even more dancers in my role as Director of Caravan Project Florida. I have been blessed to contribute to our community in many capacities including instructor at Tribal festivals, and having previously sponsored many events myself, I was extremely honored to be asked to host the 2017 GCTB Tribal Quest Summit. What an amazing experience, getting to re-connect with many dancers from around the globe and meeting new ones, all with the goal of dancing together!
It is certainly a thrill to now be a member of the famous GypsyCaravan Dance Company, with the passion and dedication brought by these wonderous women, past and present, to our dance. I thank Paulette from the bottom of my heart for creating this dance that we love, her vision for sharing it and for allowing me to be a part of it
Allie Joseph…building commmunity
I always loved dancing as far as I can remember. I dreamed of being a ballerina and wanted to take ballet. I ended up being in gymnastics, but my heart was not in it. Dance is where my heart was! I entertained myself dancing in my room to any music that would come on the radio. I did not get into dance until later in life. I took my first tap dancing lessons when I was 19 and fell in love and did that for a few years. Many years after that I stepped into my first belly dance class in 2000 and found my desire and fire! I studied Cabaret Style and danced that for many years. It was in 2010, I met Paulette Rees-Denis and that is where my GC path began! I fell in love with the dance all over again! I absolutely love Gypsy Caravan Tribal Belly Dance. The movement feels so good on my body and feels so natural. I love the connection within my body, mind and the connection with my dance sisters. Gypsy Caravan is not just about the dance but, a lifestyle! It has helped change so many components of my life and my outlook and I am so very blessed to be a part of this huge community and tribe. I am beyond excited!
Currently, I live in Chillicothe, Ohio where I teach Gypsy Caravan Tribal Belly Dance and Tribal Grooves. I love that I am able to share my love for the dance and spread and build my own little community of sisterhood and dance. It is a totally amazing experience and I could not imagine doing anything different in my life. This dance has just truly blessed me and I am so thankful for the opportunity and the experience this dance has given me and all the amazing Gypsy sisters I have met. I am so honored to be a part of such amazing women!
Misha Cain Nell…it all comes back to tribal
In the end, it all came back to tribal…finally! My own dance journey has been a circle, looping back to tribal. This was the bellydance style I first saw so many years ago that enticed me, charming and luring me into learning to sway and shimmy. What power, energy, and communication between the women I saw dance! This style also is led by the first instructor who left a mark on my heart; after hungrily taking so many workshops as a baby dancer it was Paulette’s dazzling smile, enormously giving spirit, and marriage of technique and musicality that I remembered with love and yearning. Tribal is the beginning and the focal point of my dancer’s heart; I feel that in joining Gypsy I’ve come full circle and blossomed into a transformed dancer.
How wonderful it was to stumble upon a Facebook post about new online certifications! After over 13 years of teaching and performing Turkish and Egyptian style, I was overjoyed to find an opportunity to study with one of the greats. It felt like suddenly my dreams of dancing tribal regularly, with knowledge and support from the wider community, were within reach and, well, they certainly were! I jumped in with both of my dancing feet, unsure of where this new path would take me, and am so grateful that I did! I haven’t stopped yet and am proud to have completed all six Collective Souls, all offered Teacher Trainings, my level 1 Master Teacher in GC, Tribal Grooves Master Teacher, and the new Principal Teacher. I am astounded, humbled, and delighted to now be part of Gypsy Caravan International. My heart is full and I am surrounded by beautiful women who share the love of this dance, our joy rippling out to create one global tribe with many smaller tribes echoing within.
And when I say a transformed I mean so much more than dance. Moving through the trainings and working with the other women in the tribe has honed my soul and heart, opening me up for such growth. Sometimes it is raw and emotional and I find myself testing limits and pushing hard. Sometimes it is easy and blissful and I float along on love. From each lesson I take much more than a movement or a technical cue; I learn to dance not just in a room or on a stage, but through life itself. I have learned how to take better care of myself, how to love myself and better love others, and to more fully step into the amazing abilities and roles that I carry in life: dancer, troupe leader, elemental enchantress, wife, and really whatever comes along the line. Dancing tribal has taught me to think on my feet and adapt, and I can’t wait to see what comes next in this beautiful journey!
Angie Neylan Wimmer…energy, beauty, and empowerment
Jamie Sprague…bringing me back to myself
I’ve been dancing in some fashion most of my life: boogying in the living room, at middle-school socials, doing tap and jazz in theater in high school, flirting with tango and salsa, African and Lindy Hop. My first taste of Tribal style bellydance came while attending a performance (one of Paulette’s shows) that a friend was doing voice-over narration for and I was drawn to the costumes – color! pattern! layers! bangles and jewels! – but stayed for the moves, the community, and how my body feels dancing this art form. My dance grounds me when I’m off course, and it brings me back to myself and this body that I love in a way nothing else can. Bellydance makes me feel uplifted, body and soul, full of energy and life, grace and beauty.
Paulette’s Gypsy Caravan Tribal Bellydance® style has been in my life for more than 15 years, off and on around other commitments and schedules. Two years ago I stumbled on Tribal Grooves™ and fell in love all over again, which lead me back to Gypsy Caravan and Paulette, and now I’m a proud member of the Gypsy Caravan Dancers, International. Someday I’ll become a certified teacher of this art form I love but for now I’m blessed to be part of this wonderful group of women, dancers and artists.
When I was a little girl, and I could be an ornery one, my mom would say, “I’m going to trade you to the Gypsies for a can of coffee!” I thought that was the best idea ever.
Now I AM a Gypsy and it really is the best thing ever.
Hi, I am Richelle Spencer from Fremantle Western Australia. I started dancing at the tender age of 3, but it wasn’t until my late 30’s that I discovered bellydance!
My dance passion is Tribal Bellydance. It defines my lifestyle and is what gets me out of bed everyday with a spring in my step and a smile on my face.
The attraction to Gypsy Caravan Tribal Bellydance® for me, is the feeling of connection with each and every dancer in our dance circle, dancing together improvisationally using a vocabulary of signature movements that feel so beautiful on your body, creating magic and allowing you “to be in the moment”. There is that wonderful sense of community it evokes, the divine feminine connection and the glorious costuming and musical choices we get to dance to.
I regularly perform with my dance troupe, The Free Spirit Gypsies. all over WA. I teach many different classes regularly from the Free Spirit Dance community, and have just started Dance Sanctuary: monthly workshops for women, focusing on dance as Ritual, to allow women to step into their power and walk or dance the earth like the goddess they are.
I was completely honored and delighted, thrilled in fact! for the invitation to become a member of GCDC. I feel like a conduit to many women, speaking their language and assisting them to find themselves and the sacred feminine, creating a sisterhood built on love and trust.
Dance makes me happy, fills my heart with joy and love, grounds me and connects me to other beautiful like-minded spirits.
Thank you Paulette from all of my heart xx
Nina Martinez–Goddess Central!
Nina Martinez is a Master Teacher in the Gypsy Caravan Tribal Bellydance® format. She has been studying with international dance teacher and founder of GCTB® Paulette Rees Denis since 2006. Nina started her teacher Training in Melbourne with Paulette in 2006 and has now attained her certification to instruct teachers-Master Leader and Teacher and now instructs and certifies GC trained teachers! She has also reached her accreditation to teach students to Collective Soul 4-Master Teacher Level 4.
As a master teacher and performer this dance style has taken her around Australia and also internationally to, NZ, Japan, USA and Mexico. Most recently she has been honoured to teach workshops and dance at WAMED, Fremantle; this will be her fourth year at this fabulous festival.
Through her workshops and Collective Soul instruction Nina has gained the reputation as a generous, patient teacher with a commitment in creating community and sisterhood. As a performer she is known for her elegant style and goddess presence.
Although Nina’s main dance passion has been GCTB, she has studied and been influenced by many amazing teachers, including, Terezka, Rachel Brice, Amel Tafsout, Carolena Nericcio, Kajira, Colleena and Devi Mamuk. Nina is inspired by the passion of Flamenco, the grace of Indian classical dance, folkloric circles and pagan rituals. She has also been studying drumming for more than 10 years.
At home at her rainforest studio, the Temple, near Innisfail, she is the Director of her troupe Gypsyrain and teaches 3 weekly classes. Every month at the Temple there is a delightful Sunday workshop, a gathering of the tribes, with GC sisters coming from around the surrounding areas.
As part of bringing the tribes together Nina has created a yearly GCTB festival in Cairns, Tribal in the Tropics. This is a wonderful celebration of dance, women and ritual. Bringing together the format, she also invites women who have other skills to share in the circle. Tribal in the Tropics attracts dancers from around Australia and NZ for the workshops and fabulous GCTB performances!
Nina has her own costume label and online shop, Gypsyrain Bazaar, where she designs and makes Tribal belts and bras, imports gorgeous tribal goods and creates her own jewellery, these she sells on her website, ETSY and FB.
At home she loves being surrounded by beauty and nature, living a simple life, cooking slow food and loving life!
Deirdre MacDonald — grounding and challenging
My Gypsy Caravan journey started in 1999 (having danced Egyptian style for 10 years) and whilst I was living in Portland Oregon in the USA (from the UK), and I’ve been hooked since! I am loving being a student, part of this global sisterhood, member of GCDC,Int, a GC Certified Master Teacher Level Two, and Director of Caravan Project UK! It keeps me fit, connected, grounded and challenged all at the same time.
The unique tribal spirit of Gypsy Caravan Tribal Bellydance® goes way beyond technique and shapes me as a person, a teacher, a student, a wife, friend, mother…this style nurtures support and gives clarity and emphasis on the integrity in working with myself and others. I am constantly energized by this wonderful dance that opens up the best spirit and energy of collaboration, fun, and color in my students. I am honored to be here and to continue dancing and studying on my Gypsy Caravan journey with such fabulous women.
Cinzia DiCioccio…philosophy of life
I am Tribal Bellydance Artist and Yoga Teacher.
I joined Gypsy Caravan Dance Company in 2011 after a long preparation with my teacher and friend Paulette Rees-Denis.
Since when I met Paulette in 2005, I was fascinated by her vision of Gypsy Caravan Tribal Bellydance®. I loved the idea of being together, sharing the dance with other women, being part of “something” all together.
Soon I decided that Gypsy Caravan Tribal Bellydance® was my destiny. I stated to study seriously trough Paulette’s certification program. Especially during CS 3 and CS4, dancing with dancers that I have never met before, I understood the power of Gypsy Caravan Tribal Bellydance®, it’s subtle body language, the secret deep connection we were able to build. It was a revelation to me.
After many years of practice and after two years in Gypsy Caravan Dance Company I still feel the same happiness each time I dance with my Sisters. Sometimes we meet all together after a long time but one dance is enough to re-create the magic.
Gypsy Caravan Tribal Bellydance® is more than a dance, it becomes a philosophy of life. Through my personal experience I can say that this dance offers a broader vision of life to live peacefully and responsibly in everyday relationships.
When we dance everyone always has a dual role: leader and follower. Being a leader means taking responsibility, leading the group in respect of the elements who compose it, trying to create unity, synchronicity, and well-being among each other. Being a follower means having confidence in the leader, not to challenge their decisions, to let go of ego, and follow with commitment and serenity. When I dance with my Sisters I forget who I am, I am entranced; my being is in full, cheerful, and complete harmony with those whom I am dancing with, in that time and space.
Gypsy Caravan Tribal Bellydance® to me is very similar to the Yoga philosophy of life: being part of a Whole where each particle and each living creature has its own importance because it contributes to the harmony of the Whole.
Besides being a dancer I am also a dance and yoga instructor; my mission is to teach people to feel good, physically, mentally and spiritually. I think it is very important to offer tools like nutrition advices, breathing and relaxation techniques, exercise routines, affirmations and positive thinking to keep the whole human being with a good vital energy.
Working with Paulette gave me the opportunity to grow as a person and as a teacher and I feel grateful to be part of this project and contribute to it.
Amanda Richardson — pure amazingness
I have been bellydancing since 2002 and with Paulette since 2003. A native of Wisconsin I recently moved to Portland, Oregon, leaving my troupes Rakhshanda and Stellamani behind to dance full time in Gypsy Caravan.
I am a Level 2 Master Teacher in Gypsy Caravan Tribal Bellydance® Format, competed all 6 Collective Souls, and I am a Master Tribal Grooves Instructor. I’ve also extensively studied Kathak (ISTD certified), Barathnatyam, Bhangrah and German Folk Dances.
What do I love about GC? The women who are drawn to this dance are pure amazingness. Their hearts, souls, energy are blissful to be around. Dancing with them is like filling my body and soul with water when it is thirsty beyond draught. When I dance all other things leave my mind and I am in the present moment only, with these lovely creatures, sending light, love and support to the universe. The movements seem to remove negativity and stress my body holds within it. Sometimes I get to be in control of the dance and lead others in this release and sometimes I am free to let go and be lead without care. It’s support we as women need so desperately. Support in leading without fear and freedom in following knowing others will follow. So many societies ask us to conform. Here we are conforming with freedom, artistic with tools and skill. Yet it is still free to allow you to be unique and different with a million (well maybe not that many) moves, formations, styles no two troupes look alike. That’s why it speaks to so many.
This format of dance is pure magic. Dancing in a circle with other women creates this uplifting, supportive energy and gives it’s dancers a sense of connection. Something we all need. Even if it’s just one hour a week it’s something we can do to take care of ourselves, the other women in our circle and our community. In times of uncertainty creating a positive energy and giving that to the world is a great gift.
As a mother of 2 very small children with a full time job I know how difficult it can be to make time for yourself. I promise that taking just a few minutes or an hour every week to be with us online or in a studio with the many lovely GCDC certified teachers can make an amazing impact on your life mentally and physically. Taking care of ourselves first makes us better mothers, wives, workers, contributors, athletes, yogi, friends, partners. If you feel you can’t find the time for yourselves, find the time to be better for the ones you love.
Karen Hunt — constant companion
Where does one begin? I suppose the beginning might have never happened at all, except for one chilly winter night when a friend coaxed me to go see this amazing group perform at a local restaurant. I had never seen anything like Gypsy Caravan Dance Company and it’s still etched in my memory as if it were two days ago and not two decades later. It was if the women were communicating with the musicians and each other in a wordless rhythm of sway and song. It was simply mesmerizing and I never quite got it out of my system.
That is how this dance is for me. It never leaves. It’s a constant companion, a focal point for a creative spirit, and a mirror of my unplanned life…Improvisation.
Paulette is a gifted teacher and mentor who is often in deep thought, of how to structure a move or formation, what to do to make it really special and beautiful. I try to stay quiet and wait for direction. It’s hard but it’s worth it. I learn and drill moves and learn and drill moves until they are ingrained in me like a language, and only then does the language become fluent and beautiful when we as dancers share it. The work is joyful.
You know, I left the dance a few years ago and although the rest was welcome it really gave me some perspective on how much the dance and Gypsy Caravan means to me. It keeps my body and mind strong, friendships and community intact, and the joy of performing alive. The experience of Gypsy Caravan Tribal Bellydance™ is remarkable and being able to dance with others whom you’ve never even met is mind blowing.
The power of the dance and the web of community continue to surprise me. Although many of us are not in each others immediate lives, we are still bonded by what we do and what is important to us, which is evident in many ways.
My daily mantra…
Keep the body strong. Cross-train, do yoga, lift weights, body in motion. Our bodies are what give us the ability to do this and laugh in the face of age.
Love what we’re doing. It is the path to happiness and more importantly content.
Respect our Founders and Teachers, it is their living and passion. We want them to be healthy. They are not getting rich off of us.
Strive to let our young see our joy and not our frustrations. They are the carriers of the torch.
Christine Haviland — the Sisterhood
My Gypsy Caravan journey started in 2002 meeting and dancing with Paulette and her husband and musician, Jeff Rees, in Auckland, New Zealand. I already knew I loved the dance but the feeling of Dance connection was intriguing and I wanted to know what else it had to offer.
In 2009 I made the decision to go to Adelaide, Australia , I gained Gypsy Caravan’s Collective Soul Certification Level 1 AND Teacher Training Level 1.
Since then I have continued my role in this Sisterhood. I’ve explored my passion for our Dance which has also fueled my creativity enabling me to create my own range of Tribal Head pieces and accessories.
I am proud to say I am part of GCDC, Int, Director of Caravan Project Auckland and NZ, student at CS level 4 (for now), Certified teacher Tribal Grooves™ in Level 1, (first in NZ) and most recently GCTB Master Teacher Level 1. In this newest role I am excited to be able to take the Dance across NZ!
My life circle embraces Family, Friends, Dance, creativity, Health & Fitness, uniting life, work and dance balance which feeds my contentment. I enjoy the Self awareness and healthy mind set that evolves .
Being involved and sharing with others as they bloom as women and dancers is so rewarding and I feel honored to be part of that.
GC is so much more than just a Dance. There is
such an intense surge of energy created in the circle when we dance, that connection is palpable to both dancers and those watching, its raw and inviting, a special moment, recreated whenever we dance, however big or small the circle.
Its definitely a lifestyle choice which weaves its way insidiously through your life embracing and uniting in all areas. That shared experience growing together on so many levels; learning more about ourselves as the woman, the student, teacher, mentor and dancer within, its nurturing and grounding.
We refill, refuel and reconnect each time we gather.
We are forging Roots of the GC tree of Dance … sharing the knowledge and the connection, our growth, our individual journeys and the growth of this Sisterhood.The energy we share is powerful and woven across the Globe, this Dance unites us, I am fortunate to say I have a GC global family and have danced with women all over the world.
We also want to thank all of the past dancers who have graced the stages as well as the studio floor, on the homefront and around the globe, with me. They will be forever etched in my heart and are a big part of our Gypsy Caravan Tribal Bellydance® journey…