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Meet the Company

Josephine Wise


Josephine Wise is a choreographer, musician and songwriter, who specializes in middle eastern and fusion dance, and jazz music. Over the last forty years she has performed and choreographed dances blending a number of styles, including contemporary, jazz, middle eastern, latin, hip hop and more. Her original training in Contemporary Dance has informed her fusion work, and her subsequent training in other styles, particularly Egyptian and Flamenco, has enabled her to create a lavishly inventive strand of dance.

She is considered to be one of the world’s top exponents of Egyptian dance, and her style is known for its authenticity and deep expression. Josephine has danced and taught extensively throughout the UK, Europe, Egypt and the Middle East. She has toured the UK with her previous dance company, Masriat, and has choreographed works for the theatre and opera in England and France. As a teacher, Josephine is in huge demand for her high technical standards and knowledge of musical interpretation.

She formed JWAAD (Josephine Wise Academy of Arabic Dance) to run courses here and abroad, the JWAAD Teacher Training Diploma Course, the Fantasia Festival and the annual JWAAD Summer School.

Josephine is Artistic Director of Johara Dance Company.


Catherine Bartholomew

water-catherineCatherine has been studying Arabic dance for over 10 years and is a JWAAD qualified teacher based in Kent. Having always enjoyed the femininity of the dance, Catherine was thrilled to be able to dance throughout her pregnancy last year and even during the birth! Catherine teaches regular classes in Aylesford, Strood and Sittingbourne.

Gwen Booth

Gwen is known for her elegant and dramatic theatrical bellydance style, combining elements of Middle Eastern dance with influences from ballet and western theatrical dance forms. She also specializes in Egyptian bellydance and in the use of props including sword, stick, veils, fans and shamadan. Oxford-based Gwen teaches weekly classes with OMEDS and is a National Assesor and a Tutor on JWAAD Diploma courses. She has been performing and teaching bellydance in the UK and also in Europe for almost two decades, and has performed and taught at international events such as the International Bellydance Congress and Bellyfusions Festival Paris. Email:
Photo by Nancy Fleischhauer

Norvell Cenac

Music and dance has always been a strong influence on Norvell’s life. She began studying Ballet, Tap, Contemporary and Jazz at an early age. In 2006 Norvell was charmed by the world of bellydance; in particular its music and celebration of the female form of all shapes and sizes. She has a firm belief that to interpret music in dance, you must feel the music.

Nuxya Nereisidos

Inspired by ballet and English folk dances, Nereisidos first performed her own choreography at the age of six. Whilst drawing on her acting experience for solo pieces, Nereisidos also worked with an international Bollywood dance company. She continues to study the myriad forms of Bellydance, primarily Egyptian, Tribal Fusion and Gothic, as well as Flamenco Descalzos and Hawaiian dance.



Multi Award winner Mayel is a performer, choreographer and teacher based in London. She started her stage experience at the age of 4 in France in a musical for children. She did this for 10 years at the same time as training as a rythmic gymnast. She discovered Middle Eastern dance in 2006 in Arras with Aida – her first teacher. She immediately feel in love with this dance form. She moved to London in 2008, where she started to learn with Jo Wise. Since then, she has never looked back! She is a soloist in the well-known Johara Dance Company as well as being one of the core members of the prestigious Company of Dreams. She is also part of the award winning collaboration “Ahnemon” and is currently working with Ozgen, featuring as a soloist in his new internationally touring show: “Ask/Love”. Mayel is well-known for her unique style described as dynamically commanding, gracefully emotional and full of drama! Email:

Ishtar (Dorte Evelyn)

Ishtar (Dorte Evelyn) is an international dancer with more than 2 decades of professional performance experience. Her dance education includes Latin, Jazz, Street dance and Hip hop, and she was a Ballroom champion before discovering the world of Oriental Dance. In 2004 Ishtar relocated from her native Denmark to the UK, and is now based in Weybridge, Surrey, where she teaches regular classes and workshops.

She is the creative director of the dance group KariÅŸimi, and regularly teaches and performs throughout the South East, including at the JWAAD Summer School and Fantasia Festival, but is also available for workshops and talks nationwide. As a former actress and theatre choreographer, Ishtar is known for her elegant and mesmerising performances, and strong stage performance.

Louise Dobson

Louise has been studying Arabic dance for nearly 10 years and is in the final stages of her JWAAD (Josephine Wise Academy of Arabic Dance) teaching qualification. During trips to Cairo with ‘Farida adventures’ she has trained with some of the top teachers and performers in the dance.

She enjoys the femininity of the dance and the camaraderie of dancing in a dance company. She was previously a member of Badra dance company and has performed at a variety of events such as ‘Jewel of the Nile’, ‘The Fantasia’ and various haflas and performance platforms in London and the South East.

Bethan Moore

Bethan went to her first belly dance class on a whim, fell in love with a baladi beat and was utterly hooked. Not long after, she moved to New Zealand and started dancing with a local group, Leila and the Bellycats, where her confidence as a performer really grew and her understanding of the dance deepened. This development continued on her return to London when she started studying with Jo Wise. She takes inspiration from dancers who not only have great technique, but make an emotional connection with their audience, but her biggest influences are her fellow Johara members.

Jemma Molloy

Jemma has been dancing since she was just 3 years old and having gone through most styles of dance over the years from ballet, to tap, to Latin American ballroom, she finally found a dance she could really get her teeth into when she discovered belly dance whilst at university.

Jemma has been dancing with Jo Wise since 2006 and is a proud member of her prestigious Johara Dance, currently working towards a brand new show (watch this space!). As a founding member of Ahnémon, Jemma combines her bubbling creativity and very graceful style in her dance, and adds a little glint of cheekiness too!

Jemma has performed at many haflas and shows as part of Ahnémon and as a soloist too. Her performances include Charlotte Desorgher’s Dreams of the Orient show, Madame JoJo’s, Fantasia, Arabesque Nights, Brixton Hafla, Hafla on the Hill, Saqhara Nights – the list goes on!

Itsumi Suganuma

Itsumi fell in love with Belly Dance the moment she started practicing this gorgeous art. She is a former figure skater, who as a teenager used to compete in a number of regional and national youth tournaments in Japan. She had a rich career in show business as an actress and pop singer. Itsumi studied classical ballet and jazz dance from an early age, as well as samba. She is a resident dancer of monthly Hafla “Arabesque Nights” and a member of “Company of Dreams”. She regularly appears on the theatrical stage in major productions directed by internationally renowned dancers and directors.

Agnieszka Jabłońska

With music running in her family, Agnieszka grew up backstage at the opera, spellbound by the ballerinas. But as a little girl she always dreamt of dancing around a fire in a sweeping gypsy skirt and knew there was more to dance than tutus and rond de jambe. After experimenting with Folk, Contemporary and Jazz dance, she found her holy grail in 1997, the day she stepped into Jo Wise’s class. This newfound passion lead her from the vibrant London bellydance scene, through JWAAD Teacher Training, all the way to Cairo, where she studied with superstars such as Dina, Randa Kamel, Lucy, Yasmina of Cairo, Aida Nour and Mahmood Reda. She’s a performer and teacher known for her dynamic and elegant style, who has danced at Fantasia, Sahara Nights, Brighton Orient, Bellydance Extravaganza, Planet Egypt, Sevenveils and Arabesque Nights. A former member of Jo Wise’s Masriat Dance Company, Agnieszka is thrilled to be back in the fold to perform The Mirror with Johara Dance.

Kate (Hongyi Jiang)


With a huge passion for music and dance, Kate (Hongyi Jiang) started Opera singing training when she was 12 years old in China, Beijing.

While studying at university in the UK, Kate wanted to communicate more with local dancers, and she did. She performed solos at Farida Dance Hafla, London Fantasia and Summer showcase with “Just Because” Christy. Kate is also a resident dancer at Talat Salamat in London, O Bar and Kamer Turkish Restaurant in Kent.

Kate’s favourite style is Egyptian. Currently she is taking the JWAAD Teacher training programme and planning to research more about Middle-Eastern dance, music and culture.

Julia Birchall

Julia stumbled upon belly dancing whilst at university. She quickly fell in love with the dance and within the year was on the committee for the Durham University Belly Dance Society. Whilst in the North-East she trained with both Milly Sanderson and Kay Taylor. After university Julia spent a year in Leicester learning and performing with the Chaines dance company before moving to London in 2012 when she began studying with Jo Wise.

As well as attending regular classes, workshops, and developing her performance skills, Julia spent a couple of years on the National Arabic Dance Association (NADA) committee as the editor of their thrice yearly magazine. Through this Julia interviewed and corresponded with a number of inspirational dancers both in the UK and abroad. Working with NADA was a great opportunity to immerse herself in the belly dance community and get involved with events such as Jewel of Yorkshire and the Fantasia Festival.

In 2015 Julia undertook a short term residency with the London based event Arabesque nights; a challenge but also great fun! She has since joined Johara dance and looks forward to the opportunities this will bring.