An avid disciple of world dance Olga El is inspired by her multicultural upbringing and a love of storytelling. From a young age she was particularly enamored by dances from the Middle East and the northern hemisphere of Africa —better known as belly dance— and these styles are interwoven into her work as a performance artist.
While studying writing at Pratt Institute she directed the belly dance troupe Bastet and its charitable sub-division Belly Dance for Change. In 2011 she founded the The Kandake: a dance-theatre collective that combines social activism and philanthropy with folkloric, modern, theatrical and experimental movement.
Olga studied belly dance with her main teacher and mentor, Allisyn Swift— a second generation African belly dancer who is also versed in in Classical Indian dance, Ballet and Jazz. Olga has also studied with master teachers such as folkloric dance scholar and MENSA member, Morocco; Somalian Fulbright scholar, Arianna Al Tiye; Jillina and Amar Gamal of the Belly Dance Super Stars, Brenna and Rayhana of Serena Studios; Jehan and Sultana Taj of Belly Dance America; Darshan and Sera Solstice of Bold Belly Dance and Mariyah of the Dalia Carella Dance Collective; Anasma and Elisheva of Belly Queen, Fayzah and Shoshannah Estell.
Her North African-based artistry has been featured by prominent belly dance presenters in the NYC-Metro Area such as Alwan for the Arts, Jerry Bezdikian, the Lafayette Grill, the Rakkasah Festival, Anahid Sofian, Tagine, the Theatrical Belly Dance Conference and D'jam at Je'Bon. She has also performed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (for Hannibal Buress), Le Poisson Rouge, The Best Buy Theatre (with Iraqi metal band Acrassicauda), Webster Hall, The Mehanata and Bohemian Festivals, LAVA, The Zipper Factory, The CMJ Music Festival, The House of Yes, Dances of Vice, The Bitter End, Dixon Place, TED MED (part of TED Talks) and The Lincoln Center.
In 2015 her work was commissioned by Dixon Place, the Theatre for the New City and the Jamaica Performing Arts Center where her company was honored with a 2015 dance residency. She began teaching dance in 2007 at Pratt Institute and regularly hosts free or low-cost workshops for the community. As a writer she reviews the best in NYC dance and theatre for Broadway World. A script she wrote was solicited by a major Off-Broadway theatre this past Summer.
FOUNDER & ARTISTIC DIRECTOR