I’m Karissa and I’m the founder of Offbeat Belly Dance, which set sail on its merry journey in April, 2008 at the illustrious Green Dragon Bistro and Pub in Portland, Oregon. I wanted to create a show that would stretch boundaries, blow minds, and help make Portland’s belly dance community a bigger, weirder, and even more inclusive space.

Seven years and two venues later, we have found a fabulous new home at the Analog Cafe & Theater (at 720 SE Hawthorne). Offbeat remains a haven of genre-defying, innovative, awesome belly dance by Portland’s spectacular belly dance community, and has a solid following of discerning, scandalously charismatic audience members who like rad stuff.

I am continually amazed and grateful that we get to keep bringing the awesomesauce to the good people of Portland each month. Thank you, Sassy Portlanders, for supporting Offbeat for all these years!

My love affair with belly dance began at the Viscount Dance Studios in 2002, when Tiffany’s intro to belly dance class totally wooed me away from my longstanding fervent love of lindy hop (alas – so many fun dance styles! so little time!).

In the ensuing years I’ve had the good fortune to study with many other amazing teachers, including Zighala Zurah, Vee, Severina, Ashley Lopez, Samantha Riggs, Zoe Jakes, Rachel Brice, and more. Our robust and talented dance community makes early 21st century Portland is a wonderful time and place to be a belly dancer, and I’m thrilled to have so many opportunities to study with some of my favorite dance heroes.

Once I began my MC career hosting Offbeat, other opportunities to MC found me, and now I often find myself MCing other awesome belly dance events and charity events in the Portland metro area. This was an unexpected side effect of launching a belly dance show, but it’s great fun and an excellent way to make use of my knack for energetic nattering and my penchant for glitter.

Stay tuned for more dancer bios! Profiles of Vee and Jasmine Rain are coming up next!

Hugs and sparkles,

Ringleader, Offbeat Belly Dance

P.S. Full disclosure: I totally wrote the first draft of this bio in the third person, thinking it would lend a sense of professionalism and consistency to the whole dealio, but instead it made me feel like a bad parody of Bono so I redid it in the first person and now I like it way better.

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