Margaret CunninghamBach Ed, PGrad Arts (Leadership) – Founder
Margaret has been a student and teacher of Middle Eastern Dance since 1998; a researcher and world traveller seeking every opportunity to study with master teachers from around the world and immerse herself in the source cultures of the dance genres she loves.
Her passion finds an outlet in the dance school she founded in 2002,
'Soul Dance School of Romany and Middle Eastern Dance', through which
she has instilled a love and respect for Middle Eastern (particularly
Egyptian) and Romany dance to countless students.
A further outlet for sharing her love, knowledge and respect for source cultures is in leading grass roots tours for dancers and their families to Egypt (and Turkey upon request) which she has done since 2007 and continues to do annually with husband, Mohamed Galal.
In 2013 Margaret pioneered the "Turkish Roman Project", 2 short intensives resulting in an unprecedented performance feature at the Istanbul Fire Concert with Ozgen of the UK. It remains a highlight for many of Brisbane's most passionate dancers across multiple schools. In 2019 she is launching a similar project celebrating the Golden Era of Egyptian Dance.
Although Margaret cites Egyptian style as her first love, she is best known nationally for her work in world Romany studies and is a Master Teacher of the Turkish Roman (Romany) dance style. She has directed three popular dedicated Romany dance troupes, Gypsy* Soul, The ROMantics, and Shuvani. She continues as the resident Turkish Roman specialist at Australia's “Bahar Bayram Middle Eastern Music & Dance Camp” of which she is a founding organiser. She is honored to be able to continue her support for this transformative event founded and directed by iconic dancer and musician, Tamara Taylor.
The holder of a Bachelor of Teaching and Post Graduate Diploma in Leadership & Community, Margaret has built a reputation as a thorough, warm and insightful teacher and leader in the dance community and has developed her own curriculum for Middle Eastern Dance studies and successful format for learning the elusive Turkish Roman genre. She is the creator of the inclusive and expedient R.A.P.I.D teaching methodology that facilitates dance learning for students of all aptitudes not just those with a natural inclination for dance.
Margaret also runs a 2 year teaching training programme and has launched several talented and much loved teachers past and present, and is currently mentoring the phenomenal talent of Emily Esme Farrugia who assumed the role of Soul Dance Principal in 2020.
*Moving into the future, Soul Dance chooses to no longer use the term “Gypsy” in official troupe names due to large numbers of Romany people around the world finding the term offensive. Rom, Roma and Romany are terms accepted by all without offense.
Emily is of Maltese-Australian heritage, and is a rising star in not only the Australian bellydance community but also the international bellydance circuit.
By the age of 20, Emily's accomplishments in the art have been truly staggering, receiving not only national recognition for her dedication to ongoing learning, but also multiple international awards for her captivating performances. In fact, she is the first Australian to win first and second place in the Egyptian competition “Nile Group Festival” in 2018, putting Australia firmly back on the map!
Travelling annually to Egypt, Emily has already undertaken prolonged studies in Egypt with master teachers of modern classic oriental dance, Randa Kamel and Aziza, the current principal dancer of Egypt's Folklore Reda Troupe, Doaa Salaam, and the late Nagwa Sultan, of Egypt's beloved Goldern Era.
On Australian shores, Emily's professional career as a dancer has been underpinned by studies since the age of 12 with Soul Dance, where she has undergone intensive instructor training in Principal Margaret Cunningham's teaching methodology and curriculum.
In addition, Emily has completed her teacher-training certificate with Egyptian Master, Doctor Mo Geddawi and has achieved Levels 1 and 2 in the internationally acclaimed course “Journey Through Egypt” with Sahra Kent, solidifying cultural and ethnological foundations in Egyptian dance. Emily currently teaches ongoing beginner to advanced level classes.
Elena runs Soul Dance's kids classes. Elena started her dance journey at the tender age of 5 learning ballet and jazz. Over the years she has learnt many different styles including hip hop, contemporary, latin and salsa. In 2014 she discovered Soul Dance and fell in love with Middle Eastern dance.
Elena loves to share her passion for dance and runs her classes as an all inclusive environment.