Melina of Daughters of Rhea (Melinda
Pavlata, Ph.D.) is a second-generation belly dance artist & circus
is co-founder of her family's belly dance company
Daughters of Rhea, and produces
her own family circus shows. She and her
husband, Czech circus star Sacha Pavlata, direct
Moody Street Circus, a
dance and circus studio for all ages in Waltham, MA. Moody Street Circus's
mission is to joyfully share the Pavlata family legacies of circus arts
and belly dance to wonderful students of all ages, and to foster
strengthen bodies, hone skills, fuel joyous dreams and imagination, and promote positivity and fun.
Melina in the News:
Greatest of Ease" - Boston Globe article by Taryn Plumb: October 16, 2011
Moody Street Circus, Kids Learn how to Take a Leap" by Jim Walker: Wicked
Local Waltham October 14 2011.
belly dance montage on YouTube.
Melina at Byblos with the Ed Melikian Ensemble! Wonderful photos by Alice
Melina is on the faculty at
Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health
and teaches a weeklong retreat -- "Wild Hips, Gypsy Heart: Belly Dance as
Melina's articles on belly dance and circus life have been
published in Brain, Child magazine, The Boston Globe, and The Gilded
Serpent. She has been featured on NPR's Marketplace, appeared on MTV's
"Made" and was a dancer at a televised "Bridezilla" wedding. Her work
toward finding a cure for ALS was featured in the documentary So Much, So
Born to a folk guitarist singer/songwriter father (Phil Marsh -- he played
with Energy Crisis, Country Joe and the Fish & was Pickle Family Circus Band
Leader in S.F.) and a gypsy-artist belly dancer mother (Maverick
Trailblazing Icon of Oriental Dance Rhea of Greece) during the late 1960s
Berkeley, California cultural revolution, Melina exited her mother's
shimmying womb into a vibrant life of dance, folk music & performance arts
of all ilk. She grew up performing with her parents on taverna stages
& cabarets and in the circus ring, dividing her time between the ancient
city of Athens, Greece and various cities on the East and West coast of
On the academic front, Melina is a magna cum laude graduate of Wellesley College and received a D.E.S. from the University of Geneva in Switzerland; she was a Ben Franklin
Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania where she received her doctorate in
late medieval French literature. She went on to teach at Boston College as
an adjunct professor of French before rededicating herself full-time to her
childhood arts of belly dance and circus.
Melina with Violinist Chris Wood in Circus Flora.
Photo by Scott Raffe.
Melina's overall approach to life -- including her teaching style and
performances -- is open-hearted
inclusiveness, a world-class level of artistry and professionalism combined
with creativity, community, fun & challenge. She
has been invited to teach and perform around the world -- Athens, Greece,
Singapore, Taiwan, New Zealand and all throughout the U.S.
Melina's vibrant and creative belly dance style, formed as a child at the hip of her
mother on taverna stages in the Ancient City of Athens, Greece, is
a blend of Greco-Turkish, American Cabaret, proto-Tribal (descending through her mother Rhea from the Jamila Salimpour
school of dance), bohemian gypsy fantasy fusion. Her teaching is technically
precise, down-to-earth, substantive and fun. Her warm-ups and cool
downs emphasize breathe, stretch, well-being, and listening to your body
every step of the way.
Melina performing her one-of-a-kind sword and dagger balancing act in
Singapore for Goddess Motion concert.
Melina is known for her daring and innovative use of props. Her dance acts
include balancing a tray of lit candles on her head while belly dancing (an
art she has performed with since the age of seven), balancing a sword on a dagger
clutched in her jaws and descending into a full split (she is the only belly
dancer in the world to do this), an acrobatic tango on a ladder act, Whirling Dancer/Turkish Drops, serpentine floorwork, a
romantic trapeze duet, an aerial hoop dance and circus fusion
act, dancing atop mobile candle holders and glass goblets, spoken
word/snaking hips and more is in the works. She has created numerous
choreographies that are performed by students worldwide, including
Cleopatra's Frenzy, Pho Pharonic, Walk like and Egyptian, Omar's Delight,
Misirlou and more.
Melina in Singapore
Goddess Motion Performance
Melina of Daughters of Rhea has collaborated with many
talented and versatile musicians, including her father - guitarist and
singer/songwriter Phil Marsh, the soulful and rousing Athens-based Iraqi
musician and singer Ali Arsoy,
inspirational drum poet John de Kadt,
The Fred Elias Ensemble, the extraordinary Steve Gorn,
psychodelic fusionists Ian and Jason of
Telesma, Spiritual 'Country Eastern' Band
HuDost, jazzy Oud master Harry Bedrosian,
Bouzouki player Yanni Mitaras, as well as Okbari, Aboudi Badawi, Jamal Sinno,
Janine Del'Arte of Circus Flora,
John Eurdolian of Karoun Restaurant,
of Kripalu, and many more.
Watch Melina's Incredible Sword Balanced on Dagger Act Via Streaming Video
Melina's January 2007 TV performance and interview on "To The Pointe" with
host Cinda Hill.
Melina and daughter Zoe Isadora
back stage at Circus Flora
Vew new clips of Melina 's World-Class
Belly Dancing in
Athens on YouTube! Watch her
ONE OF A KIND sword and
Photo by Patty Aiello
Melina at BellyPalooza's "Belly Dance Magic" 2007 Show
at the Baltimore Museum of Art. More
images at www.bellypalooza.com.
Check out Melina's aerial
performance at the Baltimore Museum of Art.
tours the world as a circus aerialist and belly dance artist. Along
with her husband (6th generation Czech circus star Sacha Pavlata), Melina
has also toured with the legendary Flying Wallendas. Besides
performing her own aerial acts (an elegant aerial hoop dance fusion number
and a romantic and daring trapeze duet with Sacha), Melina has assisted
the wonderful Wallenda family on the high-wire platform and watched in awe
as they, along with her husband Sacha who is in the Wallenda Troupe,
crossed the wire in their jaw-dropping Seven-Person Pyramid formation
(rest assured: Melina plans to leave hair-raising high wire walking
without a net to the experts). Melina and Sacha own and produce the
European-style one-ring family circus.
belly danced on stage at the age of 2 with
a costume pinned to her diapers. When she was 6, Melinda’s maverick mother,
oriental dance trailblazer
left the U.S. to lead a permanent life of dance in Athens, Greece.
Throughout her childhood Melina criss-crossed the Atlantic traveling between
amicably divorced parents. She danced professionally alongside her mother
and sister Piper in the ancient city of Athens,
Greece, then turned cartwheels in the circus ring on America’s West Coast
where her father
was bandleader and songwriter for the Pickle Family Circus.
Melina belly dances on Candlesticks - photo by Dreamer's Realm Photography
is the only belly dancer in the world to balance a sword on a dagger
clutched in her jaws!
Click here to read student and audience
comments about Melina's performances and teaching.
performed with a tray of burning candles on her head since she was 7 years
photo below of Melina was taken in Greece at the Athens by Night taverna
in 1978. Melina would dance with her mother Rhea at
this taverna every night to live music, then go to school in the morning and
get straight As.
Such is the life of a hybrid gypsy showbiz intello kid.
On the academic
front, Melinda is a magna cum laude graduate of
She holds a D.E.S. from the
and, as a Ben Franklin Fellow, earned a Ph.D. in Late Medieval French
Literature from the
University of Pennsylvania
in 1997. What to say? When she realized that her childhood arts of belly
dancing and circus were more personally and spiritually rewarding than the Ivory Tower, she
dedicated herself full-time to the free-lance circus and event producing, performing, teaching and
Mission Statement and
Oriental Dance Teaching Philosophy. See her
in Boston. Melina travels internationally
to teach belly dance seminars and perform. Check out her
seminar platter for your next guest-instructor workshop or dance
For a more detailed meditation on her life in
academia, circus arts and belly dance, read an
interview with Melina first published in Jareeda magazine. Check
out her essays by clicking on the "writing" button on the left side
Melina has been part of the Circus Flora
company since 1995 and co-founded her own tented European-style Circus
Cirque Passion along with 5th Generation Circus Performer Alexandre Sacha Pavlata.
She is also a founder of the
ALS Therapy Development Institute. Through her belly dance fundraiser galas on behalf
of the foundation, Melina has raised over $100,000 to help eradicate Lou Gehrig's disease.
Please consider making a donation to
ALS-TDI in support of their important work on behalf of ALS
patients alive today. Her work with the foundation is featured in a
documentary So Much, So Fast,
which opened in theatres across the U.S. in Fall '06.