Meet the Jewels

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Director/Artistic Director

Talia began her studies in Middle Eastern dance at the age of 8. Through the years she has learned from some of the most stellar teachers, performers & musicians from around the world. In 2001, she attended The Cassandra School & Jawaahir Dance Company, as an apprentice, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Talia has become a multi-award – winning performer, taking home four “Best Oriental Dancer” awards from her peers at Oasis Dance Camp, as well as a “Spirit of Aphrodite” award. In 2006, Talia took the third runner-up award in the Egyptian category for Belly Dancer of the Universe competition.


Assistant Director

Monika began her studies in Middle-eastern dance with Sohaila in 2000, then with Talia in 2003. Monika is one of the founding members of the Oriental Jewels, and is one of its most technical & dedicated dancers. Her other dance studies included tap, jazz, ballet & disco. Some of Monika’s dance highlights include performing in many local restaurants & events, dancing with drummer Issam Houshan & at a Ehab Toufic concert. Monika was also featured in SAMEDA’s monthly Papyrus magazine in December 2006.




Tanisha is of Cuban descent, growing up she danced salsa and merengue. In 2005, she took her first dance class at Palomar College in San Marcos. It was an Afro-Cuban and Brazilian dance class under the instruction of Patriceann Mead and Silfred La O Vigo. She performed with the dance company, AGOGO on various occasions, including Palomar College’s Faculty Dance Show. Tanisha continues to study to Afro-Cuban dance today.  Tanisha’s  also dabbled in hip-hop, ball room and modern dance, but found her true love when she took  belly dance class in the Fall of 2009 with Sohaila Handlesman.   She now performs professionally at local events and venues, such as December Nights at Balboa Park, restaurants, hookah lounges and private parties.  She continues to grow as a belly dancer, and looks forward to the many things there is still to learn.  Tanisha now teaches level 1 classes in Oceanside!



Tania started belly dancing in 2014 with Sohaila.  Progressing quickly she began to perform in local restaurants and community events. Tania also has trained in ballet and jazz and was a member of her school’s dance team. She has been grateful for the opportunities that have arisen so far in her dance career and is excited to learn more!



Nikki began her studies in belly dance in 2002 studying with teachers Natasya Katsikaris, Paulina Bott and Alexandra King.  She quickly fell in love with the music and it’s complex drum rhythms.  Nikki soon began performing in Ventura, CA, she loved entertaining the crowds at local venues.  She studied many different styles of belly dance including Egyptian, American cabaret and tribal fusion.  Moving to San Diego in 2005, she studied with various instructors such as Jim Boz, Sahar Sami and Lucia.  Nikki now teaches her own classes in Escondido, CA in North County San Diego.  Becoming an apprentice under Talia in 2016, Nikki looks forward to taking her technique and performance skills to the next level!



Katherinne discovered belly dance in 2013.  She quickly became a dedicated student of all things related to belly dancing from the history to the different styles, to the music, costuming and props! Katherinne was a member of Sohaila’s Shinning Stars and a performance group in Poway, CA.  Along her path she has had some amazing and inspiring instructors and peers.  Katherinne would like to continue to learn every day about this beautiful and feminine art form and to become a better and more confident performer.



Kalila began dancing at the age of two, growing up in a dance studio which primarily focused on tap, ballet, and jazz dance.  She performed for many different venues over the years and had the opportunity to learn various international dance styles through which she developed an early love of Middle Eastern dance and culture.  While studying in college, she nurtured other creative endeavors and upon completion, she returned to the dance world under the tutelage of renowned Middle Eastern dancer, Morwenna Assaf.  Since then, Kalila has had the honor of participating in workshops with David of Scandinavia, Elena Lentini, Ahmed Hussein and Talia. She regularly continues her studies of Middle Eastern Dance with Lucia, David of Scandinavia and Talia. Kalila has performed at various cultural and entertainment events across San Diego.  Her lyrical style and ballet influence suit her passion for classical oriental dance but she loves to get funky with captivating folkloric beats. She looks forward to further nurturing her passion and skills in this beautiful dance style with the fabulous Oriental Jewels.



Thea began her dance studies at the Goddess Studio, training in the art of tribal belly dance.  Thea decided to up her learning and performing by becoming an apprentice with the Oriental Jewels in 2016 under the direction of Talia & Monika.  Currently, Thea also trains under the guidance of former Oriental Jewel, Bedora Noire. You can see Thea perform as a soloist and with the Oriental Jewels Dance Company at local restaurants and events throughout San Diego.

Become a Member!

The Oriental Jewels are always looking for new dedicated and talented members.  If you are interested please submit a photo, dance biography and a video (can be a link) to