The Gilded Serpent presents...


Shelley Muzzy

Yasmela-Shelley Muzzy, began dancing in 1972 as a student of Jamila Salimpour in San Francisco. After performing as a member of Nakish’s dance company, she left the Bay Area to live in Bellingham, Washington. 1n 1974 with fellow Jamila dancer Cecelia Comartin (Cassima) she founded the Bou-Saada Dance Troupe using Jamila’s Bal Anat as a model. Bou Saada, consisting of 5 dancers, 3 musicians, and a roadie, traveled the West Coast, Canada, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho in a tour bus with a sound system, stage set and professional lighting for 10 years. Concurrently, Yasmela continued her dance studies with Rhea, and Aisha Ali. She began an intensive study of the culture of the Middle East and North Africa at Western Washington University/Fairhaven College and earned her B.A. in History and Research with emphasis on the dance and music of these areas in 1981.

Contributor to the Belly Dance Reader Volumn 1

While in the Bou-Saada Dance Troupe, Yasmela developed her skills in teaching, choreography and instrumentation. As a collective effort, Bou-Saada members developed skills in all aspects of performing, including the technical skills needed to produce a professional stage show. With the expert instruction of teachers such as Aisha Ali, Mardi Rollow (AMAN Folk Ensemble), Nakish, Rhea and Jamila, Yasmela developed a unique style of dance with concentration on traditional ethnic dances of North Africa including Tunisia and Morocco, and Central Asian dance and music styles.

Yasmela was a staff writer for the original Habibi Magazine and a contributer to Arabesque Dance Magazine through the 1970’s and ‘80’s. She retired from performing in 1990 but continued to teach, finally retiring from regular teaching in 2010. Yasmela continues to write about dance and acts as a mentor and coach to active performers. From her studio in the Northwest, she designs jewelry from antique and ethnic components and creates Asian inspired clothing and costumes from her own patterns, following the precepts of the Slow Clothes Movement. She is working on a book about the Bou-Saada Dance Troupe, a novel about the Summer of Love, and regularly contributes pieces for small press publications.

Articles on Gilded Serpent by or about Yasmela

  • Hafla Schmafla, Buidling Communithy in Our Dance World.
    Per my understanding, a hafla, in its most basic sense, is a party. It can be a party centered around family events, a circumcision, birthday, engagement, promotion, whatever, and it is a term that comes from the Arabic speaking world.
  • Video sample of Nakish! on the Community Kaleidoscope,
    Don't miss this video! Nakish talks about joining Bal Anat and the race issues. This is a sample of the film that is being made by Black Dog Productions.
  • Drawing Together: Discussion, Discoveries, Diversity, IBCC 2012: International Bellydance Conference of Canada
    I made some unexpected discoveries about our dance and my place in it. I was aware of how far the dance has come since I started out in 1972, how much it has changed and how much it is changing still. I finally put the whole tribal/fusion dilemma into a place in which I feel comfortable. So much of what holds me back from accepting change is fear, fear that what I know will change and will no longer be acceptable.
  • The Mystery of Tulle bi Telli, Assuit Shawls, a Research Paper from 1979
    The romance that surrounds these shawls harkens back to a different era, when handicrafts were valued for their own sake, and intricate decoration of everyday objects was part of everyone’s life.
  • The Jamila Experience
    All of these feelings fled as soon as Jamila walked through the door. A big impressive woman clad entirely in black...
  • The Bou-Saada Bus
    Every single one of us could play an instrument, sing, dance, run a sound board, set a stage with backdrop, lights, monitors and microphones, plug them in, and put them away. We made our own costumes and our own drums and used duct tape in a thousand creative ways. While we never made a living from it, it was our way of life. Our experiences will bond us forever.
  • Romancing the Road (The Bousada Troupe Tours)
    We carved our own niche, created our own style, scandalized, delighted, educated and entertained everyone around us, including ourselves. We were “Bou-Saada”.
  • Dance Contests
    People being who they are, and dance and art and America being what they are, there will always be the competitive urge, the attitude that success is defined by the amount of your income, the number of your trophies.
  • The Middle Eastern Music and Dance Camp in Mendocino
    There is nothing like immersing yourself in study and in the strange and unique culture of the Middle Eastern music and dance “scene”.
  • Reconnecting with the Dance: a Performance Critique of Aziza
    There are several dancers on the scene that I admire and enjoy watching again and again, but I just saw one that made me stop in my tracks, sit right down on the floor, and pay attention.
  • The Emperor’s New Clothes
    Until we see ourselves in the context of a larger society, no one outside of our community will accord us the respect we desire.
  • Glass-Dancing Revisited
    Our response to the improvisational passages in Middle Eastern music illustrate the depth of our understanding of the rich texture and nuance of the culture
  • Music and Style
    ATS seems to be pushing Middle Eastern dance, at least in the U.S., back into that safe and sexless area, sans the real knowledge of true folk movement
  • Fire and Ice
    What makes some of our dance good, what makes some of it bad is puzzling to me...
  • Peter Fels, Master Cymbal Maker
    Peter made the most exquisite finger cymbals. Each one was a work of art.
  • The Persian Soul of the Music of Sima Bina
    So there she was, a beautiful Iranian woman with an all-woman band!
  • Joy of Teaching
    Dancers need to go beyond the "tricks of the trade" and connect with the audience, whether they are in a club, at a faire, in a concert, or with fellow dancers. I have learned the value of simplicity.
  • The New Bal Anat, A Personal View, June 30, 2001
    The premiere of the New Bal Anat reviewed by a former student of the old Bal Anat's originator.

Reviews of Products and Events

[editor note: new version save with correct file name of Yasmela uploaded 5-14-14. Convert all links when able. ]