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Shake Charmers Dance Company

About The Shake Charmers

Mysterious, sensual, witty and playful, the Shake Charmers Dance Company shakes up conventional concepts of Middle Eastern dance with an innovative mixture of ancient and modern movement and music. Formed in 2001, the Shake Charmers Dance Company brings a modern sensibility to an ancient dance form, drawing influences from jazz and modern dance styles as well as classic ethnic dances from Egypt, Turkey, Lebanon, and Morocco. The visual and aural stylings of the choreography, designed by dancer and troupe founder Valerie Rushmere, create moods ranging from mysterious to energetic to earthy to playful to joyous.

Scroll down or click here to view the troupe's photos and bios.

Photo Galleries:

Belly Dance Journeys at the Free Library of Philadelphia (March 20, 2005)

Journeys Ancient & Modern (2002)

The Shake Charmers Dance Company Photos and Bios

(Click on name or scroll down to see photo/bio)

Valerie * Adalia * Bassmah * Jeannine * Jo Anne * Khuzama * Rena * Zahira * Susan


(Photo: (L-R) Jeannine, Valerie, Heidi, Jo Anne, and Adalia in their Pop Raqs performance in April 2006)

Valarina.comValerie Rushmere has been a dancer for more than 20 years. She has performed both traditional and interpretive Middle Eastern Dance around the U.S. and the world. She began studying the dance with Bona Khalil of Egypt while she pursued her Anthropology degree at the University of Delaware. She later studied with master teacher and choreographer Ibrahim Farrah. She has also studied with a variety of teachers including Dr. Mo Geddawi of Germany, Sahra Saeeda of California, Elena Lentini of New York, and others. For eight years, Valerie was a member, teacher and choreographer with the jazz dance company Waves and performed with the troupe throughout the U.S. and England.

Valerie has devoted her career to learning and teaching dance, yoga, fitness and other disciplines that produce a healthier body and happier mind. In 1997, she began her own fitness and dance studio called Studio 1831, located in the Art Museum area of Philadelphia. (See the Class Schedule page for more details.)

She has appeared numerous times as a featured solo dancer. Last year she appeared in the Rakassah Festival East showcase in Somerset, NJ, in October 2001. She also danced in a Philadelphia Opera Company production of Mozart's Abduction from the Seraglio. Her cinematic credits include portraying an Arabian Nights Dancer in the 1998 film Beloved, starring Oprah Winfrey. She recently displayed her modern dance abilities in a new video produced by nationally known fitness expert Karen Andes.

Valerie has performed Middle Eastern Dance in Egypt, New York, and Atlantic City, as well as in many local venues. She has taught yoga and dance in numerous health facilities and accredited institutions throughout the Philadelphia area, including the University of the Arts and Temple University. Additionally, Valerie is an accomplished singer and performer, appearing numerous times during her career at area theaters and dinner theaters.


Adalia has performed with the Shake Charmers since the 2004 and has appeared at the Rakkasah Festival in East Somerset, N.J., the Philadelphia Free Library, and the Community College of Philadelphia. She currently studies under the direction of Valerie Rushmere and also studies with Azhia. In 2005 she traveled to Egypt to attend the Ahlan Wa Sahlan Dance Festival in Cairo, where she studied with some of the most famous and well known Middle Eastern dancers in the world.



BassmahBassmah (AKA Fatima) has studied belly dance since 2001. She performs at local haflas and several Middle Eastern restaurants, and is a featured dancer at the Oasis Grill in Cherry Hill, N.J. In addition to being a ravishing librarian, Bassmah also runs Philly Raqs, the Philadelphia-area website for dance information.


Jeannine has studied under Val Rushmere since 2000 and has also studied with Nour, Artemis, Delilah, Fahtiem, Aziza, Morocco, Leila Haddad, and others. In 2004, she attended the famous weeklong Ahlan Wasahlan Dance Festival in Cairo, Egypt. Jeannine has performed at several nightclubs, theaters, and M.E. restaurants, as well as city festivals and parades. She teaches beginner belly dance classes at Studio 1831 and at Bally's Fitness. She is also a fire performer with Philadelphia Fire Arts.


Jo Anne has been studying Belly Dance with Valerie since 1999. She has also studied with Zahra Zuhair, Fatan Salama, Artemis, Ghazal Rohani, Nourhan Sharif and many others. Jo Anne has been dancing with the Shake Charmers since 2001.



Khuzama, who joined the Shake Charmers in 2006, has been studying and performing Middle Eastern Dance since 2004. She is a student of Valerie Rushmere and Habiba and has danced at several haflas around the area. Khuzama has also studied ballet and does Capoeira in her spare time.


Rena -- A natural-born Latin dancer, Rena has been studying and performing Middle Eastern Dance since 2002 and teaches Belly Dance II at Studio 1831. She performs regularly at Konak Turkish Restaurant with Roger Mgrdichian & Joe Tayoun and has appeared on Philly’s Action News, World Café Live, Caesar’s Atlantic City, Drexel University's Mandell Theater and Nacional Latin Night Club in Chicago. Rena also performs at haflas, special events and is a singer.


Zahira has studied and performed Middle Eastern Dance since 1997, after minor dabbling in ballet and modern dance. A longtime student of Valerie Rushmere, she also has studied with Ansuya, Dalia Carella, Sahra Saeeda, Afritah, Dr. Mo Geddawi, Denise Anan, Azhia, and others. She has performed both solo and group choreographies at various venues. She is a writer, editor, photographer, and graphic/web designer.


Susan, our decorator, costume procurer, stage manager, and all-around eBay expert, is a perpetual student who knows that you need a teacher and companions to pursue your interests. As a "late-onset" belly dancer, she's grateful to Valerie and her classmates for the chance to work on Middle Eastern dance. She is a graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and wrote a dissertation at Temple in New Testament. Belly dance is a very cool way to add a third input to the religious dialogue she finds so intriguing, besides it's being so much fun. She also loves Star Trek, costuming, and Belgian beer.

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Shake Charmers at the Belly Jam (Nov. 12, 2005)


(Back row, L-R) Jeannine, Valerie, and Adalia
(Front row, L-R) Jo Anne, Lirys, and Zahira

Valerie's Studio 1831 is located at 1831 Brandywine St.
(one block north of Spring Garden Street),
in the Art Museum area of Philadelphia, PA, 19130,
within 15 minutes walking distance of Center City.
Click here for directions.

Questions? Call the Studio at 215-665-1991.