DEVYANI is Birmingham, Alabama’s only American Tribal Style® bellydance troupe. American Tribal Style® bellydancing is a modern style developed in San Francisco, California in the 1970s and is based on traditional dances from India, the Middle East, Spain, Turkey and Morocco. The traditional steps have been modified and put into an improvisational group context to create a unique style with both a traditional and modern flavor.
Megha, Devyani’s founder and director, enjoys the only official partnership with San Francisco’s Carolena Nericcio and FatChanceBellyDance®, the innovators of and world leaders in American Tribal Style®. This partnership, called “Tribal:Pura”, as explained by Ms. Nericcio, is the alchemy of art and science in exploration of traditional tribal style bellydance. It uses the guidelines of classical art and the science of anatomy. Carolena Nericcio and Megha travel the country and internationally giving sold out workshops and performances in this absolute, original tribal style.
Devyani Dance Company is well known for their stance on the acceptance of a woman’s body. The studio classes are tailored to provide a warm, loving atmosphere where women can feel included and safe. Classes are also filled with like-minded women who come to share a great sense of camaraderie. Many women find solace from the world and its weighty demands by participating in American Tribal Style® belly dance. This form provides an outlet for movement and creativity, and, additionally, offers many social, spiritual, and mental benefits.
Meet the Troupe
"Megha" - Meg Gavin, Director Megha began performing very early in life. She took her first dance classes at about the age of 4 and has been creating and performing ever since. Theatre soon caught her attention and that was her passion throughout her schooling years. It was in 1996 that she discovered American Tribal Style® Bellydance and immediately shifted her focus to this art form. In San Francisco, Megha studied ATS® with the originator of the style from 1996 - 1998. Upon returning to the Southeast, she began teaching ATS® classes in order to create a community of people to dance with. She was the first to offer these classes in this region and has continued teaching pure ATS for the last 10 years. She continues to teach and perform at sold out workshops across the country and around the world both individually and on the Tribal Pura tour with her teacher/partner, Carolena Nericcio. In 2003 Megha completed teacher certification with Carolena Nericcio (creator of ATS® and founder of FatChance BellyDance®) and entered into an exclusive partnership with her. They now take their love and appreciation of this elegant dance style in its original form on the road to co-teach the technique and artistic vision created by Carolena over the last 20 years. Megha directs the Birmingham, AL based Devyani Dance Company. Under her direction, Devyani has performed at countless festivals, weddings, corporate events and private parties over the last 12 years and has been nominated for multiple cultural and artistic awards. For more information on Megha's background and experiences or to schedule an interview or workshop please call Devyani Dance Center at (205) 956-3384.
Liz Malcom - Assistant Director and PR/Designer FCBD® Teacher Certification, April 2007 Liz was motivated to dance at the early age of five years old. Ballet, a few parade appearances, sporting an embarrassing bunny costume and dangerously twirling a baton was the extent of it all then. Her inspiration was sparked again when, in 1995, Liz attended some bellydance classes with a friend and within six months she was performing traditional Egyptian Cabaret style with a focus in veil work. In 1997, Liz began training with Aiesha Banu who was new to Birmingham and specialized in shimmies, zils and balancing props, with a focus in Folkloric Style, specifically Saidi. Liz was one of the three founding members of Zivah Saphirah Middle Eastern Dance Troupe which quickly grew to eleven members, including an all female band. Zivah Saphirah concepted many spectacular shows and fundraisers and hosted numerous workshops bringing renowned dance instructors and performers to Birmingham. Liz continued to direct, perform and teach with Zivah Saphirah until March of 2004. In 1998 Liz saw FatChanceBellyDance® and was struck speechless with it's beauty and strength. Soon she pursued training in American Tribal Style® bellydance and joined a second Birmingham troupe named Dancing Bellies. She visited San Francisco three times to study with Carolena Nericcio of FatChanceBellyDance® and she studied with members of FatChanceBellyDance® at Rakasah in San Francisco, California and at the first Spirit of the Tribes in Hollywood, Florida. Upon Megha's return to Birmingham in 2003, Liz began training again in American Tribal Style® bellydance and was invited to join Devyani Dance Company early in 2004. Because of her background in troupe management and instructing, she was offered the honor of being Devyani's Co-Director. Liz was thrilled to of received her FatChanceBellyDance® Teacher Training with Carolena in April 2007 and is currently teaching at Devyani Dance Center.
DeAnna Freeman - Assistant Director FCBD® Teacher Certification, April 2007 For as long as she can remember, DeAnna has felt an enormous passion for the arts. At eight years old, she attended a performing arts school, Perrine Elementary, where she studied ballet and the dramatic arts. Her enthusiasm for dance, drama and music continued to blossom throughout high school and college, a time when she could be found making melodious music in the school band with her saxophone, flute or tuba, rooting the home team to victory with her cheerleading squad or stealing the show as the lead in a school play. In 2003, DeAnna discovered the remarkable world of belly dance. She studied cabaret style belly dance under the instruction of Penny Thomas, of Zivah Saphirah, and later became a student of Petite Jamilla, who now tours with the Bellydance Superstars. DeAnna performed with Petite Jamilla’s troupe for almost a year. In the Spring of 2004, while attending belly dance and doumbek workshops in Ft.Walton Beach, Florida, she met Megha. DeAnna fell head-over-heels in love with American Tribal Style® belly dance. The very next week she enrolled in classes with Devyani. DeAnna was honored and thrilled to be invited into Devyani Dance Company’s professional troupe in fall 2004 and since then has had the pleasure of performing in numerous shows around the United States. A few of these performances include Spirit of the Tribes (Ft.Lauderdale), TribalCon (Atlanta), TribalQuest NW (Portland) and a three city tour with Raquy and the Cavemen. She was also honored to appear in FatChanceBellyDance® and Devyani’s Tribal Basics Volume 7 – Creative Steps and Combinations In spring 2007, she received her General Skills and Teacher Certification from Carolena Nerriccio, ATS® creator and founder of FatChanceBellyDance® in San Francisco, CA. DeAnna is currently an instructor of American Tribal Style® belly dance and an assistant director of Devyani Dance Company.
Wendi O'Kelley FCBD® Teacher Certification, April 2007 Wendi began studying American Tribal Style® bellydance "unofficially" in 2000 by studying the FatChanceBellydance® tapes and attending Megha's classes during frequent visits to New Orleans. She began her "official" training in the Fall of 2003, when Megha moved back to Birmingham. She has been a member of Devyani since the spring of 2004. She is also a proud mother of two boys, and a high school teacher.
Morgan Walston - Morgan’s love for dance began with a background of jazz, tap, and musical theatre. After she was accepted into the Alabama School of Fine Arts as a theatre major, Morgan decided to concentrate on straight theatre. She discovered bellydance the summer of her sophomore year through Zivah Saphirah and later went on to dance with Aziza of Birmingham. After a workshop with Rachel Brice, Morgan decided to focus on tribal style bellydance and she began taking classes with Devyani in the Fall of 2011. Morgan’s first big event with Devyani and FatChance BellyDance was dancing in “Devotion-The Family Tree” in San Francisco, summer 2013.