Our Instructors

Jen_Art-in-Motion_web_02Meet Jen, Art in Motion Pittsburgh Owner & Instructor:

JANIM, Jen Gallagher, (the Steel City Bellydancer) is a professional performer, instructor, and Director of the Pittsburgh Bellydance Academy.

Jen has dedicated herself to the study of Middle Eastern Dance, its traditions, nuances and deeper meaning and expression through performance, instruction, and continuing education. Her love of the dance can be seen in her dynamic performances and within her thoughtful instruction of her students in both workshops and classes where she presents the fundamentals of bellydance as well as the nuances of zilling and veil work. Join her to discover the love of the dance!

As an experienced, personable, and respected performer and instructor, “Jen infuses classical styles with individual grace and charm, expressing the essential feminine in dance,”- Angele Ellis, Pittsburgh PA. Her understanding of dance movement and technique and her training in Egyptian, Lebanese, and Turkish Oriental styles as well as American Cabaret lends spirit, spontaneity, and heart to her dancing, captivating audiences where ever she performs. To round out her dance education and to infuse a special twist, she currently studies ballet, hip hop, and samba.

Jen is the director and founder of Troupe Faraatha which can be found performing around the city! Jen also organizes events in town. When not performing, organizing, or instructing, Jen is a landscape architect and partner at Studio for Spatial Practice.

high_resMeet Cynthia Jackson

Cynthia Jackson is a second generation dancer and performer, growing up the daughter of Betty Love Gibbs. Dance was a natural part of life as her mother was a professional dancer. Cynthia started formal training with her mother at the YWCA Downtown when she created the dance department in 1971. Cynthia is trained in Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Pointe, Baton, International Latin Ballroom Dance and Brazilian Samba, but has a particular passion for Tap dance. Cynthia twirled baton for the Blue Flames Baton & Drum Corps of Monroeville and the Golden Triangle Baton & Drum Corps of Swissvale in the summers through high school. She also twirled baton for Gateway High School Marching Band and was a member of the University of Pittsburgh’s Golden Girls in the Varsity Marching Band.

Cynthia remained a student and teacher at the YWCA until 1985 when the family owned Love’s Academy of Dance opened. Love’s Academy of Dance trained dancers from the age of four and up in ballet, tap, jazz and pointe. Cynthia was the competition team director, winning many awards for dance and choreography.

Cynthia is one of the original members of WAMO’s Hot Tracks Dance Team and was a featured “jitterbugger” in the movie An American Dream: The Making of the Jackson 5.  Performing credits also include Xpressions Dance Company, Art & Style Dance Studio, Kuntu Repertory Theater (Sophisticated Ladies, Bubblin’ Brown Sugar and Jelly’s Last Jam), Greer Reed (Cotton Club), Joy School of Dance, and the Father Ryan Arts Center. Cynthia is currently a performing member of the Pittsburgh Samba Group under the direction of Luciana Brussi Constantino.

Meet Simon

Simon Phillips born and raised in Macon, Georgia, has always had a passion for the arts and sciences. He began formal dance training at age 10, studying tap and jazz. One year later, under his teacher’s guidance, he began training in ballet. Though Simon enjoyed this form of recreation, he was most fond of the West African training that became the bulk of his early dance study. Aside these styles, he also studied modern, lyrical, hip hop, and Latin dance throughout adolescence.

After finishing high school in 2012, Simon attended Kennesaw State University (Kennesaw, GA), where he double majored in psychology and dance. During this time, he grew tremendously in artistic experience. Simon was a member of the KSU Dance Company for all 5 years of undergraduate study. Along with this, he had the opportunity to work with several professional dance choreographers including Lauri Stallings (gloATL), George Staib (Staibdance, Atlanta), Augusto Soledad (Brazzdance, Miami), and Daniel Gwirtzman (Daniel Gwirtzman Dance Company, New York City). He also performed at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. before spending a summer in Durham, North Carolina to attend the American Dance Festival at Duke University. Simon’s devotion to training, academic research, and leadership awarded him the title of Who’s Who Among American Colleges & Universities in 2017.

After graduating in 2017, Simon worked as a freelance performer and dance studio instructor in Atlanta until transitioning to Pittsburgh later the same year. He moved to become a full-time company dancer and teaching artist with Attack Theatre, co-directed by Michele de la Reza Peter Kope. Over the past year, Simon has dived into the study of Tai chi, as well as debuted choreographic work, while continuing to perform and teach around the city.

Today, Simon is still driven by his passion in the arts and sciences. His teaching method focuses on development of character through the personal investigation of intent. Simon’s approach to dance encompasses the mind and body into a single expressive system, capable of embodying and communicating abstract ideas. His goal is to inspire people to explore individual thoughts and feelings, and to consider their relationship to the artistic human voice.

Meet EmilyJen_Art-in-Motion_web_09

Emily expresses her passion for dance by performing, teaching and continuing her dance education. She has studied intensively with Janim and has also had training from other instructors in the Pittsburgh area. She currently studies and performs Tahitian, American Cabaret belly dance, and other styles of Middle Eastern dance.

Emily is also a member of Troupe Faraatha, who perform classic cabaret belly dance at festivals, fundraisers, and various other events. In addition to these performances, Emily has also performed at restaurants, galas, and other private events. Whether she is learning, teaching, or performing, Emily loves being able to connect with the music and share dance with others.

Emily currently teaches Bellydance Brunch in Sundays and Bellydance Level 2 on Monday evenings.

Jen_Art-in-Motion_web_12Meet Tricia

Tricia Grace is a dance artist who specializes in performance and choreography. Tricia Grace earned a Bachelors of Fine Arts from her combined studies at Slippery Rock University and the University of Hawaii, Manoa. While her studies heavily focused on modern dance, Tricia spent time abroad focusing on Afro Colombian dance technique; she co-directed Slippery Rock University’s Afro Colombian Dance Ensemble during her last year of undergraduate schooling, and continued to work professionally with the company hired on as an assistant director for a year post her graduation. Tricia interned with Now Next Dance in Washington, DC and DanceWarehouse in Brooklyn, NY during her academic studies. She also took on teaching roles as an undergraduate. Tricia developed Slippery Rock High School’s first academic dance course as alternative choice for physical education. Since earning her degree, Tricia has been on the dance faculty for Just Dance by Justine Alberts teaching all techniques and age levels. Tricia also teaches beginner movement studies and practices to Jeanette’s High School Winterguard ensemble. Creative movement is a passion for Tricia; she works on outreach Arts Education programs as a teaching artist for ATTACK Theatre, Pittsburgh. Armstrong Community Theater hired Tricia Grace to choreograph “Kiss Me Kate” a musical production that was presented in the Summer of 2018 at the Casino Theater in Vandergrift, Pa.

Tricia continues to perform in her second season as contracted company member of COURdance, a Pittsburgh based contemporary dance company, under the direction of Kaitlin Flynn Goodwin and is new company member of the Pittsburgh Samba Group. Tricia has performed professional works at the August Wilson Center, Carnegie Museum of Art and History, Union Project Pittsburgh, the National Aviary Pittsburgh and Chicago Emergence Dance Theater. Tricia has opened herself up to other artist and performance opportunities. Tricia trains as a bikini competitor for the NPC body building circuit; she has competed twice at the Carnegie Music Hall and placed 4th both times. Tricia has also booked work with Pittsburgh photographer Richard Frost in which editorial pictures were presented and sold in a Gala in Lancaster, Pa in January of 2019. Tricia Grace is a passionate and driven dancer with hopes of one day beginning her own outreach dance company in the Pittsburgh area.

31955881_10212014744991654_6115998313851387904_nMeet Daniella

A native to the Pittsburgh area, Daniella’s passion for dance and music started at a very young age. She was a classically trained dancer since the age of 3, performing at many levels from yearly recitals to national dance competitions. She participated in various junior tamburitzan ensembles growing up as well, to enhance and portray her Serbian culture. Daniella was blessed to have parents and family who also grew up in folklore and helped guide her to follow down the same path.

Upon graduation from high school, she continued perpetuating her Eastern European culture as a member of the Duquesne University Tamburitzans, where she obtained her Master’s Degree in Speech Language Pathology. She has assisted, taught, and choreographed for studios and tamburitzan groups in the Pittsburgh area for the past 15 years. Currently, she performs with 2 adult folklore groups in the area: Javor Pittsburgh and LJELJO Folklore Ensemble. She currently choreographs and teaches the Tambritzans of Pittsburgh PA. Daniella resides in Hampton Township and works as a speech-language teacher at North Allegheny School District.