Our Teachers

Margaret Cunningham

Margaret Cunningham

Bach 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.

*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 Farrugia

Emily Farrugia

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  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.

To find out more about Emily or to book her at your next event, head over to her website or Facebook page to contact her directly.


Elena Stekiewicz

Elena Stekiewicz

Principal

Elena started her dance journey at the tender age of 5 learning ballet and jazz. At the age of 16 she achieved professional level in Jazz before leaving the style to experience some of the many other styles of dance the world has to offer.

Over the years she dabbled in various styles including hip hop, contemporary, latin and salsa before discovering bellydance.

In 2014 she attended her first lesson at Soul Dance with Margaret and instantly felt at home. She has been an active member of Shuvani since 2014, has performed with the Bohemienne Dreams Troupe, and is a current member of both the Arabesque performance troupe and Mozaik performance troupe.

Elena started teaching with Soul Dance in 2016 where she taught the kids classes for just over 5 years before moving to teaching adult classes in both the bellydance and Mozaik styles. In 2022, Elena became the new principal of Soul Dance and is enjoying her new role under the mentorship of Margaret and Emily.

Elena loves to share her passion for dance and runs her classes as an all inclusive environment.


Tracy Obediente

Tracy Obediente

Tracy first found bellydance in her 20s after seeing a Soul Dance troupe perform in the community. Drawn to the alluring music and seeing their joy, she knew Soul Dance was where she belonged and she hasn’t looked back!

Tracy’s love of this art form took her to Egypt on one of Margaret’s renowned tours, where she had the chance to learn from Egypt’s acclaimed dancers such as Doaa Sallam, Khairiyya Maazin, Nagwa Sultan and Dina. She is part of the Arabesque performance troupe and has completed teacher training through Keti Sharif. Tracy is also a registered Occupational Therapist.


Molly Coleman

Molly Coleman

Molly was first inspired to take up bellydance after seeing the Shuvani perform at the Abbey Medieval Festival. Since then she has gained 9 years of experience learning and performing with Soul Dance, starting her journey in 2013 learning under Margaret Cunningham.

A year later, she fell in love with the Fat Chance Belly Dance™ and began learning with Rita Markwell, later joining Rita's professional group, Silk Road Rebellion. This gave her the opportunity to perform at the Woodford Folk Festival in 2015, and the Tribal and Trance Festival in 2016.

Molly has been an active member of Shuvani since 2013 and is a current member of Bohemienne Dreams Troupe. Now a keen student of Emily Farrugia, Molly is excited to share her love of dance with new and experienced students alike.


Cassie Keong

Cassie Keong

Bachelor Education (Early Childhood), Gradate Certificate Education (General studies)

Cassie is Soul Dance’s kids dance teacher. She discovered Soul Dance in 2016 after participating in a circle dance workshop at a Shuvani event. Since then, she has fallen completely in love with Middle Eastern dancing and discovered how dance can make people’s confidence blossom. She has been a member of the Shuvani since 2018, and joined Bohemienne Dreams Troupe in 2019.

Cassie is registered as a teacher with the QLD College of Teachers. She has 10 years’ experience as a teacher across various settings, including: Kindergarten, childcare, primary schools and at an English school in Japan. Currently she is a primary school teacher, as well as teaching our kids dance classes.