Zaltana Overview

Zaltana CTS Dance Performance Troupe

Photo Collage of the Zaltana CTS Dance Performance Troupe

RJ | Angela | Pam
Faux Assuit Costuming from MelodiaDesigns.com

About Zaltana

Zaltana is a troupe of CTS dancers who perform mostly in Southern California.

The most important aspect of the dance for us is having fun together.

That often shines through in our performances.

We are inspired by ethnic social dance traditions where everybody dances at a party. Yes, we have professional standards and do our best to dance well when we have stage performances. But in many cases, we use SGI – synchronized group improvisation – so every performance is unique. We cue to each other what movements we should do next, and we rotate leaders and followers throughout any given dance.

Our foundation is MEHNAT (Middle East, North African, Hellas and Turkish) dance because much of the CTS movement vocabulary was inspired by that – specifically the isolations of hips and chest, the undulations and shimmies. We play finger cymbals (zils) and dance with props (scimitars, canes, fans and veils). We move to a wide range of musical styles – from the MENAHT, Latin American, African, Indian, classical and modern playbooks.

All of the Zaltana members have been trained in Classical, Egyptian and Folkloric belly dance with Aziza Sa’id – in addition to their personal dance development with many other teachers.

Middle Eastern Circular Mandala Design | About Zaltana

We entertain in the Palm Springs area, and perform all over California (plus Las Vegas) at community events, fundraisers and festivals.

Sample Zaltana Performances

In the videos below you will see us in a few performances – one stage, one benefit and one themed hafla (party).

Dark Fire: Requiem: A Gathering of Souls

This event in April 2019 honored transitions, endings and passings in out dance community.

MUSIC: Dark Fire by Light Rain

DANCERS: RJ, Pam, Angela

Tribalicious: Blanket of Stars Benefit

RJ helped organize this event, raising money for medical care for people who are homeless in the Coachella Valley.

MUSIC: From Shawazaa by Solace

DANCERS: RJ, Pam, Angela

GDFR (zil composition): Haflaween 2017

This was an opportunity for us to play with our zils to an instrumental version of this song – and to play with each other.

MUSIC: Karaoke version of GDFR

DANCERS: RJ, Pam, Angela

Current Zaltana Members

Robin Johnson | CTS Instructor, Choreographer and Video Producer | Zaltana Member

RJ (Dr. Robin)

Director | Choreographer 

I love the energy and world music grooves that are expressed through fusion dance styling. I’ve been dancing socially all my life. I started dancing and performing Argentine Tango, Ballroom, Zumba, MENAHT-inspired dances in my 40s. With Zaltana and Troupe Mélangées, I have performed all over California and in Las Vegas at community events, fundraisers and renaissance festivals.

Pam Coleman | Zaltana Member

Pam Coleman

I’ve been dancing in the MEHNAT tradition since 2009, when my doctor suggested belly dance, yoga or Pilates as a form of recovery. I started with Aziza Sa’id and connected with Robin about 10 years ago.

I am a certified CTS teacher and teach the Cardio-Team-Style (CTS) Workout, CTS Core, and CTS Intense classes at Source Studio in Riverside, CA. In addition to being influenced by Robin’s style, my training also includes Phases I (Initiation) and II (Cultivation) of Rachel Brice’s Eight 8 Elements program. I also studied a more modern-fusion style of tribal belly dance with Meredith Marie of Circata, and Sashi of Ascend Tribal and am co-director of Belly Trance.

Angela Dudding | Zaltana Member

Angela Dudding

I joined Zaltana in 2016. I love the earthiness and soulful connection to the feminine I experiences with CTS belly dance. I appreciate the technical aspects that are not clinical. Dancing CTS with Zaltana allows me to be more personally expressive. I started belly dancing in 2013 with Etoile, also from the House of Sa’id (Aziza Sa’id’s belly dance family), and continued studying Cabaret and Folkloric belly dance with Seylena Troi. Prior to belly dance I did a little tap, ballet, and modern dance through college. I returned to dance later in life – and am glad I did.

Former … and still honorary … Zaltana Members

Tina Theophilos | Former Zaltana Member

Tina Theophilos

My love affair with dance started at the age of three when my mother enrolled me in ballet, tap and tumbling at the Betty May Dance Studio in San Francisco. Although my first love was ballet, being Greek, I journeyed into Greek folk dancing and then into belly dancing.

Always the “chubby one,” I soon learned that the size of one’s body had nothing to do with the ability to dance and had everything to do with the size of one’s heart. Dance is merely allowing our hearts to speak. I am honored to be a member of the Desert Belly Dance Collective – a group of remarkable women who share the vision of creating a space in which members are enabled to tap into their creativity. I am also thrilled to be a member of the Zaltana dance troupe. I welcome you to join me in this next step of my journey. Tina has moved to the Chicago area and dances out there now.

Moira Wilkie | Former Zaltana Member

Moira Wilkie

Moira, a self-defined ‘non dancer’ for years, started her dancing journey with an interest in learning more about her heritage and was quickly addicted, soon performing traditional Scottish highland dance at Renaissance fairs and special events. Later, when looking for a lower impact form of dance, she discovered belly dance and was hooked on that dance form for a decade. She danced with Zaltana for five years. Before that she was a member of Aziza Said’s Fringe Elements troupe.

“I vividly remember when highland dancing at faire and looking at the belly dancers with a sort of awe, thinking ‘I could never learn do that!’ But when an ankle injury grounded me, I decided why the heck not, and gave it a try. It took a while to loosen up years of ridgid training, but I had a blast from my very first class.”

Moira is a gifted online artist and technical director for the Coachella Valley Repertory theatre. These endeavors now claim her attention. She still helps us with the lighting and technical aspects of our videos.

Debra Savitt | Former Zaltana Member

(Rev. Dr.) Debra Savitt

Debra moved to the High Desert area in SoCal, dances solo and with friends, and teaches classes in her eclectic style.

Former Zaltna Members | Moira, RJ and Tina

Zaltana, v1.0 | Moira, RJ and Tina