Baksana Ensemble: May 2021

Baksana is a Dance & Live Music ensemble based in the U.S. Pacific North West. Baksana presents live music and dance from Egypt, Turkey & the Balkans, vibrantly infused with their personal energy and stylizations. Keep reading for more info…


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Baksana dance members include Danielle Elizabeth (director), Morgan Fay, Bevin Victoria, Makeda Gershenson and Carla Michelle! Baksana dancers each have decades of professional dance experience, within Baksana’s main stylistic influences as well as Ballet, Jazz and Contemporary dance genres. They share a deep love of musicality, improvisation, cultural appreciation, history, world-travel, hard work, & good humor. 

Our main styles of influence, performance, and continued study are: Egyptian Raqs Sharqi, Saidi, & Baladi; Turkish Oryental and Romani; and Balkan line dances. We are also inspired by iconic groups such as The Reda Troupe and Hahbi Ru. Baksana has 2 dance trajectories. One is creating choreographies within a theme of one particular style: Egyptian Saidi Assaya or Turkish Romani for example. The other is a format of group improvisation modeled after Carolena Nericcio’s FCBD, Amy Sigil’s ITS, and Rachel Brice‘s Datura formats… as well as certain styles of dance such as Cuban salsa Rueda, where there exists a vocabulary of combinations that is cued at random (in an improvised order) by a leader.

Playing Finger Cymbals, known as “Sagat” in Arabic and “Zils” in Turkish, is one of our specialties. Aside from choreographies, we are avid improvisers. It is here, where our more “American” stylizations will sometimes come out, as we are accessing our full selves to express uniquely in the moment.

Some of our teachers in the more classic Arabic styles of dance (and music) include Karim Nagi, Tito Sief, Reyhan Tuzsuz, Gigi Dilsah,
Our Fusion/American teachers include Rachel Brice, Suhalia Salimpour, and many more!


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Paul, our main composer, musical director, and multi-instrumentalist, has studied and played Arabic, Balkan and Persian music for many decades. Paul composes songs for Baksana inspired by the above “Middle Eastern” classics, while also being heavily influenced by improvisational elements of American Jazz – which has been his professional performance path for over 35 years.

Baksana music is dance music. Created to entertain and celebrate! We theme the songs based on the particular cultural dances we are choreographing to, for a specific time period – as in the context of performing at Renaissance Faires – and we also improvise… a lot! Occasionally these improvisations lead to more jazz/contemporary sounding songs.

Baksana’s musical members rotate and include : Mark Veherencamp (sousaphone), Kristnh Freestone (derbekki & riq), Evgeny Voevodin (derbekki), Kaya Hellman (derbekki & riq). Past members include Charles Pike, Leon Cotter, Jason Ramirez, Caroline Chapparo, Jonathan Roberts, and many many musical guests such as local PNW legends Eric Stern, Michael Beach, & Andrew Alikanov!


It is our core belief that presenting both dance and live music simultaneously bring a powerful energy. Our musicians have dance experience and a keen sense for interaction with dancers. Our dancers ARE musicians as well! We work together to create engaging performances for our communities. In general, we prefer to break down that “4th wall” (as it’s called in theater) and we invite audiences to interact and feel or sometimes *be* a part of the experience. In addition to stage shows, we also perform busking-style… playing music and dancing in the streets.

We are Americans, and as *guests* in these deeply rooted, Egyptian/Turkish/Balkan cultural arts styles we strive to  engage and “represent” with integrity. We aim to present the art we participate in and the “fusions” we curate with respect, transparency, and joy! If you are curious to know more, please reach out to us at anytime… and click the names of our teachers listed above to more authentically and directly dive into the styles for yourself!

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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