Donna Carlton

Photo by Jamie Acres

The Gilded Serpent presents...

Donna Barbrick Carlton

Donna Barbrick Carlton teaches Middle Eastern dance and hatha yoga in Bloomington, Indiana, where she is adjunct faculty at Indiana University. Her book, Looking for Little Egypt, chronicles the history and perceptions of Middle Eastern dance in America since the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago. Since its publication she has been a guest lecturer at universities, bookstores, and dance workshops and retreats. She also sponsors workshops locally.

Donna originally got involved in Middle Eastern dance for its exercise value; after graduating from college, while working a "desk job," she decided she needed to be doing something more for her body. A friend recommended Middle Eastern dance, so she started taking classes. Although she had studied Irish step dancing and tap, Donna did not consider herself a performer at this time. While studying Middle Eastern dance, Donna was drawn to the music and liked the way dancing made her feel. She enjoyed the camaraderie of her dance classes but only after a teacher made her a costume and really pushed her did she begin performing. Today, Donna's primary vocation consists of teaching and performing Middle Eastern dance. She does it because of the sense of personal accomplishment she gets from performing, particularly from performing with her students, and considers herself primarily a teacher, saying that is what she most enjoys and works at. She gets a sense of pride watching her students blossom and enjoys seeing their minds open to something new. "Performing is where you put it all together," she says, and where you have a chance to share your technique and your joy with other people. She aspires to communicate her interpretation of the music to the audience through her dancing, as well as a feeling of sharing and happiness.

She says that usually her dance is about playing, having fun with the music, and hoping that enjoyment comes across to her audience. Rather than putting on a mask or playing a part, it is expressing a genuine feeling from inside, brought out by the music and its interpretation through movement.

-Biography courtesy of Melissa Rothouse

cover of little egyptLooking for Little Egypt by Donna Carlton
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