Dance instructor and writer Abigail Keyes is internationally renowned for her strong technique, contemporary stylization, tough but compassionate teaching style, and insightful writings on trends and topics in the field of belly dance.
In 2016 she earned her M.A. in Dance Studies at Mills College in Oakland, with focus on history and pedagogy. She is certified Level 5 in both the Suhaila Salimpour Format—the first ever tiered certification program in belly dance—and the Jamila Salimpour Format. Abigail is one of only six dancers in the world to hold this distinction.
Additionally, she holds a B.A. from Princeton University in Near Eastern Studies, and has studied the Arabic language at both Georgetown University and the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.
She is currently an Adjunct Professor at Mills College, where she teaches a course on the history of modern dance in the United States (1850 – the present day), with a focus on the influence of marginalized peoples on concert dance choreographers.
Abigail has been teaching dance and movement since the late 1990s. Her teaching style is both compassionate and direct, and she has been praised for her rigorous yet approachable instruction. She brings her deep knowledge of anatomy and awareness to all her students, regardless of their experience level.
She directs the Salimpour School Berkeley and its resident performing ensemble, the Berkeley Salimpour Collective. She is also assistant director of Bal Anat, the world’s longest-running belly dance company.
For over 15 years, she has taught belly dance throughout the Americas, Canada, Europe, and Asia. Her 2008 instructional DVD, Modern Tribal Bellydance with Asharah, is still considered by many dancers to be one of the best instructional DVDs on the market for belly dancers of all styles and levels… (Even if the term “tribal” is outdated)
In addition to teaching dance, she is an accomplished writer. With her partner, Tim Rayborn, she co-wrote a pun-filled collection of the stranger side of dance history, called Weird Dance: Curious and Bizarre Dancing Trivia, available from Skyhorse Books. She also wrote The Salimpour Compendium, Vol. 1, a study guide and survey of topics related to belly dance history and theory, including a biography of innovative instructor Jamila Salimpour.
Her blog has thousands of readers around the world.