Melinda began her dance career as a member of Baba Karim, a renowned Seattle dance troupe inspired by the teachings of legendary dance pioneer Jamila Salimpour, and led by artistic director Mish Mish of Seattle. Melinda joined Shahrazad Dance Ensemble in the 1980s. Her performance career also included solo nightclub appearances at Seattle’s premier Arab and Persian nightclubs, including George’s Bar & Grill, India Palace, Meenar in Lake City, and Tula’s in Belltown.
Teachers who have instructed and inspired her include Shiraz (her first teacher, who shared her name), Mish Mish, Ibrahim Farrah, Aisha Ali, Nadia Hamdi, Horacio Cifuentes, Suhaila Salimpour, Hadia of Calgary, Robyn Friend, Leila Haddad, Aleili, Amel Tafsout, and many others.
Melinda enjoys the challenge of performing dances that feature balancing, including the North African-inspired basket dance “Jabiliyeh,” the sword dance which calls for a sword to be balanced across the head without any aids or padding, and balancing a pot on her head in Tunisian dances.
With expertise in communications, Melinda does most of the Ensemble’s public relations, writes the troupe’s flyers and show scripts, and manages the website. During the pandemic, she learned multi-track video editing and has been creating dance videos for the troupe, filmed individually with social distancing, then integrated into a single video performance. She is currently assembling 10-minute videos of excerpts from performances over the past 30 years for which the troupe has video, for the troupe’s History Project.