Owner - Lead Instructor - Professional Dancer
Our roots begin around 1949 with the great Jamila Salimpour (CA) who to this day works alongside daughter Suhaila Salimpour. Jamila shared her love for the dance with then student now amazing Cassandra Shore (MN) in 1975, who worked alonside Zarifa (NC). Zarifa taught the Egyptian Cabaret style belly dance to Yasmine (NC).
Iona wanted to take belly dance classes to surprise her husband in 2002 when she stumbled into Yasmine’s class. He insisted that she continue to dance, and she happily agreed. The dance had become a part of her life, and before she knew it she'd was asked to join the Magic-Hips Dancers, a professional troupe based in Charlotte. She was an member of Magic-Hips until 2007.
She is currently one of the founding members of Spirit of the Lotus Dance Company, is the Lead Instructor for Lotus Bellydance, directs Amani Lotus Student Troupe and has taught various bellydance workshops and group lessons. Through the years she's participated in various workshops to help strengthen her dance, and finds her inspiration in dancers such as Bozenka, Donna Mejia and teacher Rachel Brice. While her primary style of dance learned was Egyptian Cabaret, she has a big love for fusion belly dance. She is a graduate of the Rachel's first class of 8 Elements of Bellydance Approach Phase 4: Transmission, and is a certified 8 Elements Datura Style Instructor. Iona's warm smile and energy on the stage captivates her audience instantly! Because percussion instruments were a major part in her life growing up, she naturally gravitated to zills and various hand drums, and finds major inspiration in Issam Houshan and Karim Nagi (Turbo Tabla).
I started belly dancing as a mother/daughter team in 2005 here in Charlotte. I have a background in ballet, tap and jazz so I was thrilled at the chance to start dancing again. I have studied with many different teachers in the area and I have enjoyed the workshops that come to Charlotte to further my dance education. Some of the great benefits I discovered was it improved my confidence, it raised my self esteem and I further developed my inner goddess. I’m so excited to be able to meet and dance with many different and beautiful women. I look forward to the journey of teaching and sharing this amazing dance form with others.
Assistant Instructor - Professional Dancer
Lotus Belly Dance
Where the Spirit of Dance Blooms!
Copyright 2007 Lotus Dance Studio. All rights reserved. All photography by JA Wiley Photography unless otherwise noted.