Melissa Wanamaker

Photo credit Glenn Brogan,

The Gilded Serpent presents...

Melissa Wanamaker

Melissa Wanamaker is a barefoot world dance nut focusing on the movements and rhythms rooted in the Middle East and North Africa. A warm, versatile, generous and dynamic performer, researcher, choreographer, coach and instructor based in Anchorage Alaska, Melissa discovered American Belly Dance in the mid-1990's. Since that time she has invested her time, money, and energy researching and studying the roots and shoots of this art form with many of the finest Middle Eastern Dance master instructors of the United States and Egypt.

As a belly dance generalist, her efforts to integrate, understand and appreciate this organic and beautiful dance form in its many facets are ongoing. As an instructor, Melissa wants to create versatile, artistic, dignified and respectful dancers with excellent, broad-based foundations. As a choreographer and consumnate showman, Melissa says, "I am happiest dancing at the intersection where sacred meets sensual meets circus. I want to be an anthropologist and an artist... honoring the past and anticipating the future. I am interested in fusing various dance styles from throughout Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia, the Silk Road, the Romani (Gypsy) Trail and American Belly Dance and creating original, interesting, evocative modern choreographies and shows. My goal is to continue studying dance and music styles from various cultures, collaborate with excellent like-minded souls and, with respect and love, to share this ancient, artistic, athletic expression of a woman's power with students and audience members."

Melissa has performed as a solo dancer and troupe member in both amateur and professional settings including but not limited to the Anchorage Concert Association's Opening Night Gala for Cirque Dreams, UAA's Dance Together Alaska Festival, Anchorage Downtown Partnership's Saturday Concert and Cultural Performance Series, Anchorage Downtown Partnership's Fire and Ice Celebration, Alaska's 50th Anniversary Gala, Children's Dance Theatre's Nutcracker Sweets, The American Red Cross Mardi Gras Celebration 2009, ConocoPhillips Family Picnic, Anchorage Opera Opening Night Gala for Italian Girl from Algiers, The Alaska Support Industry Alliance's "Meet Alaska" Conference, Alaska Design Forum and the International Gallery for Contemporary Art AND the Anchorage Museum's "Changing North" FREEZE Project artist, UAA TFYP's production of "Ashlad and the Good Helpers", The Sustainable Living Festival, Sheila Wyne's Annual Spenard Arts Fundraiser, Aksana Danilava's "Earthquakes and Hips Shakes" show, Danielle Lawler's "Carpe Nocturne" show, Carrie Moore's "Secret's of the Oasis" show, the Seward Arts and Music Festival, First Friday performances at the Indigo, Ship Creek Center, Woolies and Laughing Lotus Yoga Studio, the Solace International fundraiser (to help build schools for girls in Afghanistan), the Anchorage Folk Festival, VivaVoom Burlesque shows, The Municipality of Anchorage's Haunted Trail and Vernal Eternal, the Queen of Raks Sharqi competition in Dallas, the Three Barons Renaissance Faire, Alaska Meets the Nile, Where the Middle East meets the Frozen North, the Alaska State Fair, Summer Solstice Festival, the D Street Festival, Saturday Market and many others. She was a movement coach for the Anchorage Opera Ensemble's 2010 production of "Kismet", choreographer or co-choregrapher for Barefoot Muse, Nomadia, Wild Sweet Orange Dance Theatre, and Ciccia Bella, a guest choreographer for the 2006 West High Holiday Showcase and Mu'Azzazz and a featured dancer at Istanbul Café. Other restaurant work includes Aladdin's and Little Italy as a special guest performer. She has also appeared as a fortune teller and dancer in several Art Services North productions.

Melissa currently teaches 3 classes and 1 regular troupe rehearsal hour per week in Anchorage, Alaska.

Articles on Gilded Serpent by or about Melissa Wanamaker

  • "Where the Middle East Meets the Frozen North", Review of Eva Cernik's Performance on Friday, October 2, 2009
    On stage an ageless, timeless beauty, her 30 years as a professional dancer have given her poise, wisdom and a huge range of emotional expression. Her great expressive eyes dominate an elfin face that will pull you into her pain or disgust one moment and crack you up with a sparkle, head slide and lip shimmy the next, all washed down with a wink and natural smile that says not to take that too seriously either.