Photo of Kaeshi
Photo of Kaeshi
Photo of Kaeshi
2009 Photographs by Ken Stein.
Hair and Makeup by Masae Satouchi.
Kaeshi

"When I first discovered bellydance, I wanted to climb to the top of the highest mountain and shout to the world how wonderful and transformative it is." - Kaeshi Chai

Kaeshi Chai was born in Brunei and brought up in New Zealand and Australia. In 1998, she co-founded Bellyqueen, a professional New York based world dance company, in 2004 PURE (Public Urban Ritual Experiment), an international community of dancers musicians dedicated to creating positive change, in 2010, the Rising Sirens (student troupe), and in 2011, the Flying Apsaras (temple Goddesses).

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Kaeshi has performed and taught all over the world including the US, Canada, Europe, Mexico, Carribean, Morocco, Bali, Australia, South America and throughout Asia. In 2002, she performed 5 shows a day to live Arabic music at Aladdin's Desert Passage in Las Vegas. In 2003-2004, she was part of the first professional touring bellydance company in the world, the Bellydance Superstars, and held the position of dance captain for the 2004 US & Canadian Spring Tour. She has performed with Natacha Atlas, at Central Park's Summerstage, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, BAM, Folie's Begère in Paris, Bloomsbury Theater in London, Teatro Smeraldo in Milan and has made television appearances on Conan O'Brien as well as BBC's Blue Peter. In 2006, she made history as the first US-based dancer to teach a workshop in mainland China. From 2007-2009, she toured with 6-13 dancers as Bellyqueen Dance Theater, traversing the United States 3 times, Canada 3 times, Western and Eastern Europe and Japan. In 2009 and 2010, she was honored to be the featured soloist in Turkish dancer Ahmet Luleci's Collage Dance Ensemble Psiphas / Rituals shows. She was also invited by the amazing Jillina to perform as Pandora for her Bellydance Revolution project.

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In between her extensive travels, Kaeshi co-hosts a weekly Wednesday night event in New York's East Village called "Djam Under JeBon", showcasing international and local talent, with live band Djinn. She can be seen in the following DVDs: "Bellydance NYC: The Ultimate Fusion Experience", "Bellyqueen: The Bellydance Experience", "American Bellydancer"; "Bellydance Jam" by Bellyqueen; "Live in Paris at the Folies Begère"; and "Crazed: The Bellydance". In her spare time, Kaeshi studies Mandarin through ChinesePod, enjoys foot massages and exploring the world.

Although becoming a professional bellydancer seems like an unlikely path for someone who was very shy as a child, Kaeshi has found it has given her tremendous strength by facing and overcoming fears of performing, and learning to accept herself for who she is.

In early 1996, she started her bellydance training under the guidance of Jeannie Kasis and Terezka Drnzik from Sydney, Australia. She continued on in the US, Egypt and Turkey studying with many top dancers specializing in the following styles (see below.) Her three main mentors that continually inspire her in vision include Jillina, Tamalyn Dallal and Dalia Carella.

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Bellydance Styles Kaeshi has Trained With
Egyptian: Yousry Sharif, Jillina, Azza Amon, Raqia Hassan, Zahra Zuhair, Ibrahim Akef, Dr. Mogedowi, Lucy, Dina, Lulu Sabongi, Sahra Saeeda, Mahmoud Reda, Aida Nour, Mohamed Shahin, Gamila El Masri, Outi, Jim Boz, Amir Thaleb, Virginia, Samara
Turkish: Sabuha, Ahmet Luleci, Eva Cernik, Artemis Mourat, Sema Yildiz
Gypsy: Dalia Carella (Dunyavi, El Mundo), Puella Lunaris (Zambra Mora), Khariya Maazin (Ghawazee), Paola Blanton (Macedonian), Nursel Mojca (Balkan Cocek)
ATS: Kajira Djoumahna, Paulette Rees, Susan Frankovich, Carolena Nerricio & Megha
Tribal Fusion: Rachel Brice, Unmata, Zoe Jakes, Ariellah, Heather Stants, Asharah, Sharon Kihara, Jill Parker, Heidi of Domba, Naimah, Geneva Bybee, Elizabeth Strong
Fusion: Elena Lentini (Spanish-Arabic), Jehan Kamal (Goddess), Dalia Carella
Middle and Near East Folkloric: Kay Hardy Cambell (Saudi Khaleegy), Karim Nagi (Lebanese Debke), Amel Tafsout (Algerian), Leila Haddard (Tunisian), Nada Khodlova & Laura Shannon (Sacred Circle Dances), Israeli Folk dance, Louchia (Persian), Jajouka (Guedra)
Teaching: Tamalyn Dallal, Nigma
Musicality: Hossam Ramzy, Bozenka, Keti Sharif
Isolations & Layering: Katarina Burda, Suhaila Salimpour, Ava Fleming
Candelabra: Nadia Hamdi

Cane: Yousry Sharif, Amar Gamal
Finger cymbals; Z-Helene, Souren Baronian, Karim Nagi, Jamilla Salimpour
Floorwork: Anahid Sofian
Veil: Anahid Sofian, Aszmara, Fahtiem, Petite Jamilla, Nadira, Tamalyn Dallal
Performance; Shoshana, Ranya, Serena Wilson (started Kaeshi's professional career in NYC)
History and Culture: Morocco, Tamalyn Dallal

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Other Movement Styles and Music Training
Hip-hop: Akim the Funk Buddha (Popping & fusion), Morganics (Popping), Hypno (Popping & Tutting), Tiny Love (Liquid, King Cobra), Aus Ninja (Voguing), Big Mike (Isolation), Future (Waving), Chio (Funk)
World: Jie Yang (Chinese), Elly Shu (Chinese), Victorio (Flamenco), Jose Molino (Flamenco), Julio Jean (Afro-Haitian), Djoniba (African), Queen Harish (Indian), Najma (Kathak), Sonali (Bharanatyam), Pasha (Xinjiang), Thai & Scottish dancing
Classical: Shoko (Ballet), Dawn Hillen & Robert Atwood (Ballet), Stephen Harding (Jazz), Grant Chang (Jazz), Cecilia Marta (World Jazz), Antolino Alvarez (Modern),
Random: Chuck Kelly (Acro Tumbling), Marlies Yearby (Physical Language Acting), Earl (Kungfu sword), Charity (Fire poi), Mariano Parra (Turns)
Dance Meditation: Adnan Sarhan (Sufi), Dunya (Spiritual bellydance), Jonathan Horan, Gabrielle Roth & Kierra, (5 Rhythms WAVE), Dances for Universal Peace (Jeannie), Banafsheh Sayyad
Yoga: David Life, Sharon Gannon (Jivamukti)
Dumbek: Raquy Danziger, Carmine, BradMack, Rami El Aasser

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Kaeshi considers herself an eternal student and regularly attends as many workshops and classes as she possibly can to ensure she is well-rooted in traditional bellydance as well as keeping abreast of the latest trends in this ever-evolving yet timeless art form. She is also trained in fitness to ensure that students thrive in a safe and supportive class environment.

Kaeshi is an AFAA (Aerobics and Fitness Association of America) certified instructor, and was also certified by ACHPER (Australian Council for Health, Physical Education and Recreation). She completed an anatomy and kinesiology intensive with Amy Matthews from LIMS (Laban/Bartenieff Institute for Movement Studies,) pelvis anatomy workshop with Sherri Winston, Strength Training certificate with Australian fitness expert Ashley Jones, has taken Tamalyn Dallal's Middle Eastern Teacher's Training 3 times, Suhaila Salimpour's Level 1 Certification, Laura Shannon's Sacred Circle Dance Teachers Training Intensive, Fat Chance Bellydance General Skills with Carolena Nerricio and Dancing Thru Pregnancy Certification.

One of her greatest joys in life is sharing her love for bellydance with others by teaching. Please check out the Bellyqueen class schedule to find out about her on-going dance classes in NYC.

Outside of Bellyqueen and PURE, dance companies in which Kaeshi had the pleasure of participating in include: Jillina's Bellydance Evolution (2009), Ahmet Luleci's Collage Dance Ensemble (2009), Elly Shu's Chinese Dance Company (2004), Bellydance Superstars (2003-2004), Dalia Carella Collective (2001-2002), Ranya Renee's Maqamikaze Dance Company (2000), Shoshana's Dance Company (1998-1999), Chinese Youth League (1988)

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Kaeshi practices Yoga and Qi-gong meditation on a regular basis and is inspired by buddhist and taoist philosophy. She also believes in supporting worthy causes, and has been the sponsor to a child living in the Dominican Republic since 2006 through Children International to help care for children in developing countries by making monthly donations to cover medical care, education and clothing.

Kaeshi graduated with honors from a 4 year degree in Visual Communication Design from the University of Technology, Sydney, Australia and is an award winning designer and illustrator.

Please read Kaeshi's favorite poem as well as another beautiful poem written by Lisa Sarasohn, "I call myself Belly Queen". You can e-mail her at kaeshi@bellyqueen.com.

Does "Kaeshi" Have a Specific Meaning?
The Chinese character "Kae" represents the strength and power of victory.
"Shi" means the softness and beauty of silk.
Together "Kaeshi" encompasses both Yin and Yang qualities, thus creating balance.

Natacha Atlas