Pure Onyx Movement


Meet the Empresses





Diane McNeil “Nilah” began her vocation with the West African dancing art form., after being invited to a belly-dancing show and seeing the beauty and artistry of it. She decided to try belly dancing. She trains under the tutelage of Arianna Al Tiye at Mark Morris Studio, Tamar at Restoration Dance Theatre and Angela Lambert (Noora) at The Greek Cultural Center. Her experience includes dancing at The Grisly Pear with musicians Scott Wilson & Efendi, various Haflas, private parties and other public venues. As a student who loves to dance, she never envisioned it would take her to this far.


Sonjirey Murriell “Sonseeahray” - is a fusion bellydance dancer based out of New Jersey and has been dancing for nearly 10 years. Her unique style blends all the forms of bellydance together which allows her to freely express herself and share the love of the dance.

Sonseeahray has had the pleasure of studying under Andrea Anwar, Anahid Sofian, Aszmara, and Audie. She has taken workshops given by Fleur and Geela (of the now defunct) Philadelphia Tribal Bellydance Troupe, Samara, Majda, Chadia, and Morocco’s weeklong workshop just to name a few. She dances with various dance troupes and performs at various venues throughout the tri-state area sharing her unique style for audiences to enjoy.

Sonseeahray is the owner and founder of Shades of Lakshmi, LLC., a bellydance entertainment company, which is geared toward hosting haflas and workshops.


Saundra Roberson - Saundra Roberson describes herself as a lifelong student of dance. After taking her first dance class at her local Community Center a flame was ignited. She knew immediately that dance would always be a part of her life.

Four years ago while discussing her love of dance, an acquaintance recommended a belly dance class being given at the Mark Morris Dance Company Green Brooklyn. After attending the class Saundra fell in love once again - with belly dance. She’s taken belly dance classes ever since mostly with Arianna Al Tiye.

She performed in Arianna’s 2009 and 2011 Belly Dance Halflas. Saundra states that belly dance has added an amazing new dimension and many sister friends to her world. Since that first class, Saundra has learned much about the fascinating history of this ancient dance form born in Africa. Saundra travelled to Egypt in August 2010 on a sacred belly dance pilgrimage with fellow belly dancers. She warns; don’t be fooled by the fluidity and sensuousness of this ‘sacred womb dance’ as some describe it. These beautiful movements come only after hours of challenging work.

In addition to belly dance Saundra has also studied and performed African dance with the Charles Moore Dance Company and Afro-Haitian dance with Michael Manswell of the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning. 

She is the proud mother of a handsome and ‘accomplished’ son who is also exploring his artistic side and pursuing a career in acting. She credits staying young at heart to following in her 90 year old Mother’s footsteps who still dances at every opportunity. Lastly, Saundra implores all, as the song by Lee Ann Womack goes – “When You Get the Choice to Sit it Out or Dance Always Choose to Dance!”


Leila Smalls “Quan-Yin” - has been embracing the dance of the womb for 3 years now. Leila began her training under Arianna al Tiye where she meet the wonderful sisters of POM, who embraced her two left feet and made the dance not only spiritual, but one the highlights of her life... Over the past 3 yrs we have shared laughter and our love of life & dance. Leila, is currently under the teachings of Tamar Raqs, along with the Queens of POM!!! Today holds a special place in my heart to share the stage with my sistars and honor their names in dance! Ashe my SiStars.


Adrianna Valdes - I am a native New Yorker of Cuban and Jamaican decent and dance has been part of me for nearly all my life. My dance training began at Ballet Hispanico at four years old where I participated in ballet, modern, and flamenco. At age nine I auditioned for The School of American Ballet and was accepted on a partial scholarship. After four years at SAB I realized that ballet was not for me anymore and I took a hiatus from dance for awhile. I rediscovered my passion for dance at age sixteen, during my junior year of high school, through some close friends who belly danced. After their encouragement and introducing me to basic belly dance movements I took my first belly dance class with Tamar-Kali Brown at Steps on Broadway in 2006. And I have been hooked ever since! I continued to belly dance throughout college performing at various campus events. Studying with Tamar has given me the opportunity to perform at venues such as BAM Cafe Live and Je Bon restaurant in the East Village. In addition to Tamar's classes I have also taken classes at Serena Studios and Bellyqueen. My dance career would have not been possible without the love and support of my family who has been with me for every performance whether it was ballet, flamenco, or belly dance!


Ouriana Walker - I have studied the art of belly dancing for approximately 5-6 years. In addition to belly dance, I have studied Hip-Hop, Salsa, and Theater jazz.   I have had the pleasure of belly dancing with/studying under – Lateefah Fleming, Arianna al Tiye, and Janelle Cortez.  I have participated in performances ranging from showcases in college auditoriums to Middle Eastern restaurants.

I absolutely LOVE belly dancing.  It is a wonderful celebration of womanhood and sisterhood.  It makes me feel healthy, vibrant, active, and sexy! Through belly dance, I have had to opportunity to meet fabulous women who also share my passion.  In the future, I hope to expand my knowledge of and skills in belly dance and share it with others.


Zuri - has been involved in the creative and performing arts since childhood, but came to dance as an adult, beginning with the Latin dances. She discovered belly dance and found a home.


As music is her profession, Zuri incorporates her solid knowledge of timing and musical interpretation into her performances. Her show formats can range from traditional to a fusion with Caribbean and/or Latin flavor depending on client venue and preference.


When teaching, her knowledge of group dynamics, body mechanics, and different learning styles helps each student to reach their fullest potential. Zuri also has training as a pre/post-natal health and fitness group instructor, and welcomes the opportunity to work with women who want to stay fit during their pregnancy.


Zuri is also the owner of Cocoabelly Dance Services, LLC, a full service bellydance organization. Cocoabelly offers custom, handmade costumes for dancers of all shapes and sizes, makeup services for dancers, and performers and props for your special event.




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