Original Cast 2013 Standing L-R: Morgan Fay, Makeda, Bobak Salehi, Mark Veherencamp, Doug Shafer, Tabra Bay & Janelle. Sitting L-R: Charles Pike, Brittany Stark, Danielle Elizabeth & Paul Evans

The formation of Baksana was instigated by a spirited conversation early summer 2013 Between Danielle and Sol Crawford (the then co-director of Studio Datura (PDX) and Datura Online (interwebs). Baksana was founded with the mission of bringing the party to the people. The goal was to make our performances exciting and accessible for all by highlighting the powerful link between live music and dance. We found endless inspiration for this in Arabic, Turkish and Balkan regions of the world, and have all studied music and dance from those genres for decades. We began busking on city blocks and at community fairs, as well as performing in fully produced stage shows in black box theaters. Regardless of where, audience interaction has always been a guiding principle.

Baksana dancers met while participating in Rachel Brice’s Datura Project and originally launched our first performances with Rachel’s Datura Style vocabulary which was founded on core concepts developed by Carolena Nericcio‘s FCBD® style.  These concepts center around a style of “lead and follow” dance, where one dancer leads by cuing a set of movements for the rest of the group to follow. The order of the combinations is improvised, thus creating fresh and exciting performances on the spot! We still dance within that system and employ some stylistic concepts from Rachel and Carolena (with deep gratitude and respect for all their work!!!).  However, Baksana’s vocabulary has grown into its own set of original cued combinations and full choreographies, often paired with dynamic finger cymbal compositions. Free improvisation is also a LARGE focus of Baksana, and thus our “style” and sets are constantly evolving with us.

Live Music was essential in Baksana’s vision and Paul Evans stepped up to the plate as Baksana’s Music Director. Paul is a professional musician and composer based in the Pacific North West. He collects some of the most versatile musicians to play in our ensemble. He is the composer/arranger of all our music, save for a few pieces by the dancers. Paul studied Jazz and Classical music at Cal State Long Beach and Arizona State University. It was while living in Arizona in the 90s that he was first introduced to Arabic music and dance at private Haflas (parties in the homes of Egyptian families) where he was encouraged to play along with the classics and learn the Arabic ways of improvisation. Paul has been playing music for over 40 years, performing professionally for 30, across nearly all genres from Classical to Funk, Balkan, Americana, Persian, you name it… but his heart beats in Jazz and Improvisation, which has been a huge influence in Baksana’s style. Learn more about Paul here:

Learn more about Baksana’s Dance and Founding Director, Danielle Elizabeth’s personal journey in creating Baksana Ensemble. Danielle has a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts, and has been studying dance since age 7:

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