Melinda Heywood Pavlata, Ph.D. (aka Melina of Daughters of Rhea) is a second-generation belly dancer, circus aerialist, choreographer, teacher and writer. She is co-founder of the Daughters of Rhea belly dance company and the circus arts theatre Cirque Passion. Born to a musician father and gypsy-artist belly dancer mother during the late 1960s Berkeley, California cultural revolution, Melina exited the womb into a vibrant life of belly dance, folk music & circus rings. She currently tours the U.S. as an aerialist and dancer with Cirque Passion & Circus Flora and performs various circus and dance acts including an elegant aerial hoop act and a trapeze duet with circus star partner Alexandre Sacha Pavlata at festivals and galas worldwide. Melinda teaches popular belly dance classes and specialized seminars in dance and circus arts throughout the world. She recently returned from a tour of Auckland, New Zealand where she made her debut on the platform with the legendary Flying Wallendas.
Melinda's performances are lit from within by passion, fun, fire and grace. She is noted for her precision technique, fast finger cymbals, Dionysian gypsy leaps & spins and acrobatic agility. She specializes in balancing a large bronze tray of lit candles on her head while belly dancing, performing deep backbends and articulate floorwork all the while.MELINDA IN GYPSY PERFORMANCE AT KAROUN'S.
On the academic front, Melinda is a magna cum laude graduate of . She holds a D.E.S. from the University of Geneva and, as a Ben Franklin Fellow, earned a Ph.D. in Late Medieval French Literature from the University of Pennsylvania in 1997. Despite Ivory Tower accolades and a deep commitment to higher learning and scholarly excellence, Melinda experienced the powerful realization that her childhood arts of belly dancing and circus were more personally rewarding -- artistically, emotionally, spiritually and financially -- than teaching French in the university system, so she dedicated herself full-time to the free-lance performing, teaching and writing life.
Melinda in performance at the Baltimore Museum of Art.
Melinda's essays on growing up belly dancing and performing in the circus
have been published in Brain, Child magazine, The Boston Globe,
Habibi magazine and Middle Eastern Dance in New England. Her commentaries on the
economics of belly dance have aired on NPR's
Her dancing life has been profiled in The Boston Globe, the Boston Herald,
the Boston Phoenix and Wellesley magazine. She has been featured on
Channel 5's Chronicle and her performing and fundraising efforts for
ALS Therapy Development Foundation
have been written up in the New Yorker and the book His Brother's
Keeper by Pulitzer prize winning author Jonathan Weiner.
More about Cirque Passion
Cirque Passion's Recent Appearances
Cirque Passion's Photo Gallery
|Alexandre Sacha Pavlata's Bio
Sacha's Student Testimonials
Melinda Marsh Heywood's (aka Melina's) Bio
Melinda's Belly Dance Website, Daughters of Rhea
Cirque Passion's Links