Preliminary Round Star Judges
A Los Angeles native, Sonia has become one of the most sought after dance instructors and performers today. At the age of 19, she commenced dance training at her local city college. After acquiring a solid foundation in classical ballet, she became well versed in a host of dance forms, equipping her with an extensive versatility and influencing the development of her own unique style. Of Mexican descent, she looked to further explore her roots through music and dance by joining Los Angeles based, Ballet Folklórico del Pacífico, currently known as Pacífico Dance Co. Her ever expanding curiosity and passion for dance led her to tour with companies of various genres, featuring her as a lead dancer and contributing choreographer, most notably with the Bellydance Superstars, which put her on the map as a major exponent in the Middle-Eastern dance scene. In recent years, Sonia has redirected her focus by devoting much of her time and energy towards a more concentrated and deeper practice, broadening her dance repertoire. She visits India once a year to fully immerse herself in classical Indian dance studies under the guidance of the top Odissi Gurus, and spends several months a year focusing on Spanish (flamenco and classical) dance under the direction of Roberto Amaral, in Los Angeles, California. Sonia currently performs and teaches internationally, whilst researching and training locally and abroad. www.soniaochoa.com
Henna is an award-winning performer and teacher based in Portland, Oregon. She is a sought-after teacher, performer, and competition judge in the region. She teaches regularly in Portland and as an instructor on Datura Online.
Henna has been immersed in music from a young age. The daughter of a musician, she studied the piano throughout childhood and always longed to dance. Henna in her college years was immediately drawn to the enchanting music, and the earthy, energetic movement of belydance.
Following every inclination to dance, Henna has explored Turkish Oriental, American Cabaret, Tribal Fusion, Egyptian folkloric dances, but always returned to her first love of Egyptian Raks Sharki. Henna’s intuitive musicality coupled with crisp, expressive technique makes for captivating and memorable performances. She considers Egyptian music to be her main muse, with its emotional complexity and universal theme of love guiding her artistic choices.
Eshe is the director & owner of Mahasti – The Bellydance Emporium in Canada. Born and raised in Hamilton, Eshe has been bellydancing since 2002. She’s trained extensively in Canada, Japan, Egypt, and Turkey. And she’s performed in America, Japan, Turkey, South Korea, Australia, Malaysia and Indonesia.
From 2008 to 2010, Eshe was the bellydancer for the Korean band Orgeltanz. Orgeltanz and Eshe gigged at some of the country's biggest music festivals, including the Incheon Pentaport Rock Festival and Grand Mint Festival, were featured in the Korean editions of Vogue and Harper's Bazaar, and appeared on several TV programs. In 2009 she starred in Apollo 18's music video "Orbis."
In early 2010, Eshe was cast in the Korean and Indonesian versions of Bellydance Evolution – a large-scale, international bellydance stage production created by the renowned American bellydancer Jillina. Eshe also won Asia’s “People’s Choice” award as part of the show.