MEDANZ is fully volunteer run.  The day to day running of the Association is managed by a committee of members and their details are listed below.  Other members also regularly contribute to the organisation via submissions to Newsletters, the website or on sub-committee (e.g. for organising Festival).

A new committee is elected annually in April at the MEDANZ Annual General Meeting (AGM).

MEDANZ Committee 2018-2019


Brigid Kelly

Vice President

Agate Ponder-Sutton


Raffaella Cruickshank


Jan Grant


Jan Grant, Raffaella Cruickshank

General Members

Aida Oryantal

Jane Steane

Gillian Green

Sharon Gaynor

Newsletter Editor

Deputy Editor

Brigid Kelly

Sharon Gaynor


Previous Year's committee members can be found here.

President - Brigid Kelly



I'm Brigid Kelly, aka Zumarrad, your president.

I started studying bellydance in Christchurch in 1998 and joined MEDANZ in 2000 - since then I've been the president (now twice!), a general committee member, and mostly an average everyday member just like the rest of you. I taught at the School of Contemporary Belly Dance for about seven years, and towards the end of that time, I quit my day job as a reporter to write my MA thesis on New Zealand belly dance. This led to some international travel and publications! I love to analyse the ways that dance communities have developed, shifted and changed as this beautiful and complex Middle Eastern cultural expression has spread outside its countries of origin. I'm passionate about continuing to learn what I already think I know - going deeper into the songs and traditions that underpin oriental dance. I now work as a technical writer, helping produce a management manual that centres patients and makes doctors' lives easier all over New Zealand, Australia and now the UK. Today I'm still in Christchurch, still teaching a weekly drop-in class for anyone who wants a taste of Middle Eastern dance, and still so moved by the music and the movements that got me so enthralled 20 years ago.

Vice-President - Agate ponder-Sutton


I found Middle Eastern dance through history and music. I do historical research mostly involving dance and sword techniques. I've been told my dance style is golden era, but in practice, I tend to be improv and folkloric with departures into electronic music. I tend toward a martial presentation of swords as a dance prop.
I've taken classes with Karim Nagi, Joana of Cairo, Paivi Mielikainen, Zumarad, Saqra, Davi, Alice Knox, Dorian, Tamara, Margaret Galal, Mirian Caberlon Chamberlain, Virginia Keft, Kami Liddle,Zaghareet Daniela, Bilge Özgün, Amaya, Dahlia, Dr Manouchehr Mostagh Khorasani, Dr Guy Winsor, other wonderful people in the sword, dance and music communities.  



Secretary - Raffaella Cruickshank



My name is Raffaella , dance name Nelum.

I have been involved with Belly Dancing since 2003. I am Italian but I lived in few different countries, like Sri Lanka, Scotland and Cyprus; it was in Cyprus I watched a belly dancer, in a restaurant, for the first time and I was mesmerised.It wasn’t until I came to live in New Zealand that I saw belly dance classes advertised. That was 15 years ago; once I started my first class, I never consciously stop. I did my first 5 years with “Art of Movement” of Tanya Banford-King. I then joined “Arabian Spice Group” with Linley Duncan as teacher. Since she left the group 5 years ago, I got more involved and started teaching beginners, organise our performances and gigs and creating and maintaining our Face book page and website. I dance mainly Egyptian Raqs Sharqi (and the folkloric part which goes with it), American Cabaret, Oryantal and a bit of fusion.

I have been a member of MEDANZ for the past 5 years and attended 3 Medanz Festivals. Throughout Medanz and fellow dancers I had the opportunity to meet and study with some of my belly dance Icons and I value the power of networking and sharing our passion for this Dance. I believe I have a few skills and time to dedicate to the association and hopefully all together this year, the new Committee will make a good job of steering Medanz on a road of recovery, gaining new members, keeping old ones, creating dance opportunity for all MEDANZ community. 

Photo credit: Nina Gastreich Photography




Treasurer - Jan Farida Grant




General Committee member - Aida Oryantal




I'm Aida, director of Auckland Belly Dance. This is my first time serving on the committee. I'm a second generation belly dancer. My first exposure to belly dance was as a social dance, performed by women, for women in Iran.

When we immigrated here in 2000, my mum started teaching classes out of the living room to friends and family before we had even purchased any furniture...(priorities!.) As soon as I had the opportunity to travel I began attending events overseas to learn from my biggest inspirations, the highlight of which was in May of this year, taking workshops from the Turkish legend Didem Kinali.

What I envision for MEDANZ going forward is a stronger sense of community, more opportunities to dance, share knowledge and collaborate. I look forward to meeting you all in upcoming MEDANZ events. 

General Committee member - Gillian Green


This year is my first for MEDANZ as a general committee member, after being a MEDANZ member on and off since 2004.  I am really passionate about helping MEDANZ move forward into the future, and to helping the more quiet voices in bellydance have their views represented to the committee.  I’m also hoping that I can bring my skills from my past skills in banking and finance to help the committee.  My real hope for MEDANZ is that we become the vibrant and inclusive sisterhood that I think we all hope it can be. I am from Auckland, where I started first started belly dancing with Monique Feron aka the Queen of the Nile, and her Elektra Dancers back in 2002.  I was quickly seduced by the costumes and had my first public performance in 2004.  I am now dancing and occasionally teaching with Tais Derbasova’s Arabaellas School of Bellydance, and have been dancing with her troupe since 2012.  This has given me some amazing opportunities not only in performance, but to learn with some high quality teachers both here and overseas.  While my experience in Auckland has been mainly Oriental with a bit of Spanish and Jazz fusion, it was at the MEDANZ festival in 2009 where I was first exposed to Tribal Fusion with the international keynote that year, Lily Tsai.  I am currently dancing my way through Rachel Brice’s 8 Elements program, having completed Phase 2 in April this year.  I am very lucky to have a network of dance sisters all over the world!When I am not dancing, I am studying towards my Masters in Visual Art at AUT, with my area of interest being photography and moving image.  Everywhere I go, you’re bound to find me carrying a stupid number of cameras around! I have also been practising yoga for longer than I’ve been bellydancing, and I even played in a grunge band back in the early 90s.  Music and movement must be in the blood.I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible – and I also welcome private messages from anyone who wants to share anything with the committee, but wants to stay anonymous.  Happy dancing!

photo credit: Nina Gastreich Photography 

General Committee member - Jane Steane


A yogi for 20+ years, and a dancer for 8, I started teaching Bellydance 7 years ago when my first teacher left for Australia leaving a keen group of Belly dance orphans.    My yoga studio in Whakatane then doubled as a dance studio and a space for me and my troupe, Devabelly.   I also love working with my friend, mentor and teacher, Tanya Bamford King.  I have been a Medanz member most of my 8 years of dancing.
  Over the years I have trained and danced with some wonderful teachers and I continue to be a student of Belly dance, more than a teacher.  Although I am greatly influenced by the Egyptian style, I love to explore all styles of Belly dance.  I am also a trained professional school teacher and live on a lifestyle block with my husband, kids of 12 and 14 and a menagerie of animals.

General Committee member Sharon Gaynor



I’m relatively new to belly dancing having started in 2016 after my daughter Jamie took me to a “Mother & Daughter” belly dance class on Mother’s Day. While I hugely admire the beautiful oriental dancers, I would never have the courage (or the fitness!) to dance oriental style – but then I was introduced to Tribal style, and love how it is easy to learn with cues for each step, you dance in a group, it is gentle on my old unfit body, I love the costuming, hair gardens & makeup, and I get to dance with an amazing group of people!

I am a student of the Tribal Diva Belly Dance School in Christchurch, taking 5 classes a week (Tribal and Fusion), have attended the MEDANZ Festival in Christchurch & Napier, and this year even went along to an ATS sister school in Munich, and took part in workshops by international tutors! I joined the committee because I believe that having a National Association is a great thing for fostering the community spirit that is a huge part of belly dance in NZ.