Photo by David Fore

The Gilded Serpent presents...


Dancer, Event Producer, Author, Costumer, Instructor, Rocket Scientist.

The Dancer

Shushanna started her dance training in ballet at the age of four after watching the Nutcracker Suite on television. She then declared very definitively to her parents that she was going to be a dancer when she grew up. Four years later, she had wider hips than her teacher, so she decided that ballet might not be the right direction for her. But she continued to train on her own for years, studied several types of ballroom dancing, and performed in musical theater throughout her tweens, teens and 20's. Shushanna's first foray into Middle Eastern arts was actually in music with her husband Sean – learning how to play various percussion instruments and becoming cast members in the Philadelphia based theatrical group “Images of the Motherland.” Only later, at the age of twenty-four, did Shushanna start taking bellydance lessons. Due to her background and dedication, she progressed very quickly in the art form. At the writing of this biography, Shushanna was Certified Level II in the prestigious Suhaila Salimpour School of Dance, and pursuing her Level III certification. Her primary teacher and mentor is Alexia (aka Kim Leary) of New Jersey, and like many of her teachers, Shushanna's style has a very strong Turkish influence as part of the East Coast legacy of bellydance. Her styles range from American Cabaret, to Turkish, Egyptian, Turkish Romani, and several more modern fusions. As a dancer she is most admired for her gracefulness, musicality, and zil playing.

The Event Producer

Shushanna Productions has produced several high quality events all based in Philadelphia. The most well known events include: "Philly Jalsah," an event geared towards Middle Eastern musicians with teachers Carmine Guida and Melissa Murphy, and "Elements of Bellydance," a series of workshops and gala theater show with teachers Anasma, Alexia, Amalia and Shaula. Shushanna has also been a valued staff member of several other large productions, including Rakkasah East and Spring Caravan where she has been the Volunteer Coordinator and Stage Director for many years, and the 2011 Theatrical Bellydance Conference in New York City where Shushanna was the Stage Manager. The keys to her success in her many events have been her organizational skills, her elegant artistic vision, and her keen business sense.

The Author

In addition to writing several articles (published on the Gilded Serpent and elsewhere), Shushanna is the author of a popular series of online costuming tutorials. The tutorials are clearly written, fully illustrated, and very detailed. The topics range from the basic skills and tools needed to get started, to a breakdown of different beading methods, to the construction of entire costumes from scratch. Some of the tutorials include videos showing a process step-by-step. These tutorials are completely free and are available on her website. The user guidelines are that if you quote her work online you a provide a link back, and if you print it out you include the URL on the page, so that credit is given and others can find it as well.

The Costumer

Shushanna's love of costuming has been a lifelong passion. She taught herself to sew and started designing costumes as a child. She started Live Action Role Playing as a teenager and still does it to this day. Bellydance costumes are just one variety of what she has made over the decades, but as it is the most useful in her day-to-day life, it ends up being what she makes most often. Though she also buys designer costumes to furnish her professional bellydancing career, her most complemented and intricate costumes are typically the ones she has made herself. Shushanna is not a costumer for hire, and she does not do alterations for hire, however she can be hired to teach workshops on costume construction where the costumes are made by the participants. For a detailed explanation why, check out her Questions and Answers page.

The Instructor

Shushanna has been teaching for several years, and at the writing of this biography was teaching at Studio 1831 in Philadelphia. For a current list of Shushanna's classes and upcoming workshops, go to

The Rocket Scientist

Shushanna has a bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering and works in the defense industry. Though she's never had to design a rocket, the things she does work on can in fact blow you up. But she promises not to.

Articles on Gilded Serpent by Shushanna

    Coming soon!