Established in 2003 by celebrated Guelph belly dancer Ishra Blanco, the Invoketress Dance Troupe is an award-winning sisterhood of strong, creative and talented women who embody Ishra’s philosophy of celebrating individual diversity and beauty while achieving a high caliber of belly dance. Known for their versatility, innovation, dynamic formations, and evident joy of dance, they frequently perform at a variety of events, festivals, parties, restaurants, concerts, and weddings all over Ontario, Quebec, and in the United States. They have also performed at a number of notable belly dance events including the International Belly Dance Conference of Canada (Toronto), the Great Lakes Belly Dance Convention (Michigan), Tribal Revolution (Illinois), and Tribal Momentum Festival (Montreal). They have danced with numerous live musicians including twice Juno-nominated Eccodek, The Lemon Bucket Orkestra, Cuneyt Yetkiner, Bhadra Collective and Light of East Ensemble and being opening performers for Sean Paul and Akon. In 2017, they won 1st place in the Ensemble category of the Hamilton International Bellydance Competition and solo troupe members also placed in their respective categories. Together, they embody a diverse wealth of dance backgrounds including ballet, jazz, modern, hip-hop, ballroom, Irish, Flamenco, Mexican folklore, tribal fusion, ATS (American Tribal Style), Bollywood, Latin, hula, Burlesque, African and more. These combined with extensive study in Raqs Sharqi (classical Egyptian belly dance) and folkloric belly dance with Ishra and other instructors have equipped the troupe with a versatility to perform both Middle Eastern dance as well as innovative fusions. Each member brings her own personal strengths and personality to the group which come together to offer rich, dynamic, layered performances.
Invoketress Dance Apprentices are hand-selected students of Ishra’s who are invited to join the troupe in an apprenticeship with the intentions of eventually becoming a full member of the Invoketress Dance Troupe. These dancers are identified based on their technical abilities, emotive qualities, appreciation and respect for the culture and art form, and their camaraderie with existing troupe members. The apprenticeship gives these students the opportunity to experience the administrative and business side of performing at public and private functions and to learn about some of the logistics that exist in the world of professional Belly Dance. They may also be invited to perform alongside Invoketress at various gigs to develop and enhance performance and stage skills (e.g., more intricate choreography, improvisation, musicality, emoting, audience engagement) that comes with such experience. Apprentices need to complete at least one year of classes at the Advanced Sapphire level as well as participate in a minimum number of performances before becoming an Invoketress Dance troupe dancer.