Baksana Ensemble is a Dance & Live Music group based out of Portland, Oregon USA. Baksana presents live music and dance from Egypt, Turkey & the Balkans, vibrantly infused with their personal energy and stylizations. Keep reading for more info…

Our mission: To connect audiences to a sense of celebration and excitement via the magical pairing of live music and dance. To tell stories and encourage people of all ages to journey through creativity. And to share our love of these particular dance and music styles.

Our “Why”: For most of the group, we are guests to these specific cultural art forms. We are often asked… Why do we find Raqs Sharqi, Turkish Oryental, and Balkan music and dance so special? Special enough to devote our creative lives to studying and performing it? One primary reason is that the relationship between dance and music is supremely expressive. The inherent energetic capacity is mesmerizing. The diversity of rhythms and flexibility of time reflect a fullness of experience. The incredible depth and expanse of Maquam and Tarab inspires infinite subtleties and indescribable sensations. Raqs Sharqi is quite romantic and poetic. The movements span a wide range of intricate nuance to bold athleticism. The dance is both very personal, and meant to be shared. Performance venues can be as small as the space between two tables, and as large as an opera house (theater). It can be casual or glamorous. It’s rich and long history has much to teach us and its modern evolutions bring “folkloric” to the future in truly vibrant ways. Balkan dance and music tell stories of community, employing multiple similar rhythmic and melodic qualities. It is very often by, with, and for the communities to celebrate themselves and each other – no performance needed, welcomed at nearly every and any occasion. Connecting hands to hands and hearts to hearts. 

“America” is colonized land. Baksana calls Chinook Nation lands home. Many people have mixed heritage, and as Americans we have an amazing opportunity to appreciate cultural diversity all around us. Creating and performing mindfully and respectfully is always a top priority for us. Baksana members have all been devoted to the study of these dance and musical art forms for multiple decades… and the learning never stops. Many of us have BFAs/MFAs in various creative and performing arts. We also feel blessed to have found outstanding teachers in the Arabic Arts, as well as Turkish and Balkan genres (both in the U.S. and internationally) to guide us along the way. We dedicate our work to them, and to the vibrancy of the regions that originated and host these styles.


Danielle Elizabeth: Director, Dance, Percussion, Vocals, Baglamas
Bevin Victoria: Dance, Percussion, Vocals
Carla Coelho: Dance, Percussion, Accordion, Vocals
Elise Morris: Dance, Percussion, Ocarina, Vocals
Evgeny Voevodin: Percussion, Whistle, Vocals
Kaya Hellman: Percussion, Accordion, Vocals
Makēda Gershenson: Dance, Percussion, Vocals
Morgan Fay: Dance, Percussion, Violin, Vocals
Paul Evans: Soprano Saxophone, Flutes, Melodica, Percussion
(Percussion – Sagat/Finger Cymbals, Derbekki/Darbuka, Davul, Riq, Frame Drum, and more!)

Adjunct and alumni members include Josh Mellinger, Charles Pike, Leon Cotter, Jason Ramirez, Caroline Chapparo, Jonathan Roberts and many many musical guests such as Eric Stern and Michael Beach


Some of our teachers in the Arabic and Turkish styles of dance (and music) include Karim Nagi, Tito Sief, Reyhan Tuzsuz, Gigi Dilsah, Faisal Zedan, Rumen Shopov, Hany Morgan, Amel Tafsout, Mr. Ozgen
Our Fusion/American teachers include Rachel Brice, Suhalia Salimpour

2 thoughts on “About

  1. Recent transplant to Oregon.
    I’m an old school dancer. Started in 1966 when live music was abundant.
    Delighted to find your group. Brings back my Glory Days memories.
    I look forward to attending your performances.
    Great job!

    1. Thank you for this delightful compliment. We would love to meet you at one of our performances (when life goes back to normal). Welcome to the PNW!

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