Mariah - A true artist through her paintings and love of Middle Eastern Dance.
Mariah is from Ohio, Greek and Italian heritage. Since childhood she always studied dance, including belly dance. Mariah discovered ™Habeeba’s Dance of the Arts belly dancing studios of Ohio in 1991 and realized she found her mentor and dance home. In addition to studying personally with Habeeba, a belly dancer since 1960, Mariah was chosen to assist teaching her exclusive technique and choreographies at Habeeba’s studio in Columbus from 1997 - 2007. Former member of Habeeba’s Danse Oriental Troupe. January 2010 Mariah opened her own school of dance, Belly Dance by Mariah Studio serving NE Ohio. Mariah is Director and sole Choreographer for her student troupe Yallah Mariah and is also founder and co-member of Troupe Pro-Ohio.
Mariah performs, travels and teaches across the United States as a soloist, competitor, competition judge and workshop instructor. She was a featured performer with the late Ofra Haza, Original Bellydance Superstars and the Oojami band (UK) on their first U.S. tour. Cover Dancer on Pangia Vol.7 World Music CD & featured on Bellydance DVD’s worldwide.
Mariah is a Multi- Award-Winning Performer and Choreographer having won in Professional Bellydance Competition categories including:
- Las Vegas Bellydance Intensive & Festival Pro-Show Star Performer
- Emerging Artist/Student Sienna 4th Place Sherena’s Shakedown, OH
- Tribal Brew featuring Mariah!, OH
- Las Vegas Bellydance Intensive® Guest Teacher/Performer
- Midwest Dance Competition Overall Winner, 1st Place in Dance Oriental, AmCab, & Improvisation, IN
- Grand Belly Dancer of the Year & 2nd Runner-Up Belly Dancer of the Year, CA
- Cover Dancer on Pangia Vol. 7 Mystic Blue Caravan World Music CD
- Brandon's Oasis November 2013 Bellydancer of the Month
- Belly Dancer of the Year 1st Runner-Up Grand Dancer
- Jewel of the Sierra, CA 1st Place in both Live Music & Diva
– Gypsy category Emerald Rain, WA
– Pro Personal Best, OH
– “Fire Diva” Drum Solo Diva Pageant, MA.
– Finalist in 2010 BDOY CA.
– Finalist in The Bellydancer of the Year Competition (BDOY), CA
– Drum Solo MAQAM Challenge, IL
– Northeast Belly Dance Competition, PA
– Personal Best Middle Eastern Dance Competition, OH
– The Midwest Bellydance Challenge, IL
– East Coast Belly Dance Classic, VA
– Za-Beth’s Diva Pageant, MA
– East Coast Belly Dance Classic, VA
– Personal Best Middle Eastern Dance Competition, OH
– Za-Beth’s Annual Diva Pageant, MA
– Jewel of the Nile, NJ.
Mariah considers herself an energetic, graceful dancer with a tremendous repertoire.
In addition to dancing, Mariah is proud of her work as a Fine Artist. She earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts and is a candidate for her Master of Fine Arts. She has exhibited and sold her artwork in galleries, museums, and universities throughout the United States and abroad for 20 years. Her paintings can be viewed in both public and private collections.
For Fine Art by Maria Parasson, aka Mariah, please visit Fine Art Gallery or contact her directly 614-595-9215.
“Dance never really changed my life because it has always been a part of it,” Canton-based dancer Mariah explains. “My life would only change if I quit dancing.”
As the daughter of an Italian mother and a Greek father, Mariah (aka: Maria Parasson) was literally born to dance.
“As a child I grew up listening to the music from the Mediterranean and Middle East. There was always lots of dancing at home, church picnics, weddings, etc. I remember there was always a belly dancer at every party. My family owns Parasson’s Italian Restaurants in the Akron area. Food is a huge part of our lives, especially ethnic food! I loved eating out at restaurants, locally and while traveling, that featured belly dancers. I knew as a child I wanted to be a dancer when I grew up,” Mariah says.
Mariah became an internationally award-winning dancer. As a child, she attended a variety of dance classes and performed on stage and school functions. As a young adult she continued her studies and performances, incorporating belly dance into her repertoire.
She has continued to share her love of the art form by performing around the country and was a featured performer with Bellydance Superstars and OOJAMI on their United States tour.
“My style varies from Classic Oriental Dance (Belly Dance), American Cabaret, Westernized Nightclub, Modern Egyptian, Fusion and Gypsy. My preferred specialty is Classic Oriental,” she says.
In addition to performing, Mariah has competed in numerous belly dance competitions around the country, finaling and garnering a number of first place awards.
“I started competing in 2006. It was time to get my name out there on a national/international level as a serious professional competitive belly dancer. I’ve competed from the east to the west coast and many cities in between. I’ve lost track of how many competitions I’ve done. I try to do at least 5 a year. Like any other competitive sport, there is a lot of training and dedication involved if you want to win. I feel accomplished as a multi-award-winning performer and choreographer, but there’s always more fun to be had and more friends to make along the way.”
One of Mariah’s most memorable experiences as a competitor was performing at Ahlan Cairo Nights 2008 Queen of Raks Sharqi Belly Dance Competition presented by Little Egypt in Dallas, Texas. Out of 33 contestants from around the world, Mariah finaled in fifth place.
“Winning did not matter. What did matter was dancing for the sold-out audience, other great competitors and celebrities in the belly dance world. Judges were Egypt’s very own Dina, Dr. Mo Geddawi, Randa Kamel and Dandesh!”
“Thinking of competing? Go for it! Understand that there is a lot of work involved. First, you must research the competition itself to find out who the promoters are and at what level of prestige the competition has in the industry. If the competition is in its 37th year of production, that says to me it’s reputable and worth attending. You need to budget for competing. It costs a lot of money to travel, pay for hotels, music, costumes, and for some of us, babysitters (Mariah is mom to a daughter and a son). Training is a priority. When I have a competition coming up, I have to watch what I eat and work out regularly at the dance studio and gym. Finally, music. The number one issue is finding the right music for each category that fits the allotted time. Over the years I’ve become really good with GarageBand (a music editing software program for Apple’s I-Mac). “
“I know many dancers and artists that don’t believe in competition. Art to many is subjective. To others, art can be judged and it’s value determined on a scale. Judges have the most important role in a dance competition. They must be extremely knowledgeable in belly dance and its various styles. Judges must be unbiased and respectful. I do not like judges judging their own students. I’ve been to competitions where this has occurred and I will not go back. Most competitions give you your final score sheets. Many dancers use these numbers and words of advice to improve their performance or to see where they excel.”
In addition to being a belly dance artist, Mariah is also a visual artist, specializing in fine painting. With a BFA in Painting, she is a candidate for an MFA in Painting/Art History. As Maria Parasson, she teaches art classes out of her downtown Canton studio. She enjoys painting portraits, figures, animals and some surreal imagery. Many of her paintings are narrations of personal experiences, and many include belly dancers as the focus. Her work has been entered in juried competitions around the country and exhibited in select galleries.
“I think what sets me apart from other dancers is my experience and knowledge as a performing and visual artist. I studied Fine Arts, including painting, art history and dance at graduate school level. I’ve shown my artwork in numerous exhibitions around the country and I’ve been somewhat of an exhibitionist about it. Gallery art openings attract a type of crowd that appreciates and looks for the extraordinary talents of artists. If I have an art opening, it’s not uncommon for me to dress in full costume and put on a performance for my guests.”
Maria/Mariah’s art and dance studios (Maria Parasson Fine Arts and Belly Dance by Mariah Studio) are both located in the same suite on the 9th floor of the historic Renkert Building, 306 Market Avenue, N in downtown Canton.
“Since opening Belly Dance by Mariah studio, just 3 months ago, I’m in the process of forming a professional touring belly dance troupe,” Mariah says. “I truly love the sisterhood troupe membership offers. Together, dancers blend many personalities, talents, different opinions and close friendships.”
Belly Dance by Mariah Studio serves the Akron-Canton area with on-going open registration for new beginner, intermediate, advanced and private belly dance lessons. Mariah also teaches at belly dance workshops and seminars nationwide.
For more information, contact Mariah at 614.595.9215 or email@example.com