Melina's Belly Dance & Circus Arts Private Studio Moody Street Circus in Waltham, MA

Melina's Tips from the Hip (TM) Blog

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Melina of Daughters of Rhea



Melina's MOODY STREET CIRCUS studio in Waltham, MA

Melina is a world-class entertainer, dance artist and engaging master teacher. She combines the multi-faceted art of oriental dance with poetic creativity, precision technique, Dionysian abandonment, acrobatic agility and an elegant, dramatic & joyful stage presence. 

Melina's teaching is articulate, authentic and straight from the heart.  Melina has toured around the world as both a belly dancer and circus performer. She and her husband Sacha delight audiences with their romantic trapeze duet. Melina has even assisted the legendary Flying Wallendas on the high wire platform.  Melina was featured on the TV Shows Bridezilla in 2007, MTV's hit show "Made" as well as the award-winning Sundance documentary pick So Much, So Fast. 

Melina has performed on prestigious stages around the world including The Wang Center of Boston, the Taipei Arena in Taiwan, Cirque Rocks Arena in New Zealand, the Four Seasons Hotel in Boston, The Baltimore Museum of Art, The Athens By Night Taverna in the Plaka of Greece, and the Victoria Theatre in Singapore.

  Melina's recent seminar venues include Goddess Motion in Singapore and Kripalu in the Berkshires of Massachusetts. 



Melina's "Sweat Equity" essay aired NPR's Marketplace. Have a listen!

Photos of Melina by Photographer/Dancer Cristina Pujol

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Swirling Isis-Wings Melina
photo by DeAnna Putnam

More about Melina's Classes


View new clips of Melina 's World-Class Belly Dancing in Athens on YouTube!  Watch her ONE OF A KIND sword and dagger act!


CONTACT US for special bookings.

Melina, Rhea and Piper
Daughters of Rhea Company CoFounders and Family Members


Melina of Daughters of Rhea (Melinda Pavlata, Ph.D.) is a second-generation belly dance artist & circus performer.  Melina is co-founder of her family's belly dance company Daughters of Rhea, and produces her own family circus shows.  She and her husband, Czech circus star Sacha Pavlata, direct Moody Street Circus, a belly dance and circus studio for all ages in Waltham, MA. Moody Street Circus's mission is to joyfully share the Pavlata family legacies of circus arts and belly dance to wonderful students of all ages, and to foster friendly community, strengthen bodies, hone skills, fuel joyous dreams and imagination, and promote positivity and fun. 

Melina in the News:

"The Greatest of Ease" - Boston Globe article by Taryn Plumb: October 16, 2011

"At Moody Street Circus, Kids Learn how to Take a Leap" by Jim Walker: Wicked Local Waltham October 14 2011.

Melina belly dance montage on YouTube.

Melina at Byblos with the Ed Melikian Ensemble! Wonderful photos by Alice Gebura.

Melina is on the faculty at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health and teaches a weeklong retreat -- "Wild Hips, Gypsy Heart: Belly Dance as Self-Empowerment."

Melina's articles on belly dance and circus life have been published in Brain, Child magazine, The Boston Globe, and The Gilded Serpent.  She has been featured on NPR's Marketplace, appeared on MTV's "Made" and was a dancer at a televised "Bridezilla" wedding. Her work toward finding a cure for ALS was featured in the documentary So Much, So Fast.

Born to a folk guitarist singer/songwriter father (Phil Marsh -- he played with Energy Crisis, Country Joe and the Fish & was Pickle Family Circus Band Leader in S.F.) and a gypsy-artist belly dancer mother (Maverick Trailblazing Icon of Oriental Dance Rhea of Greece) during the late 1960s Berkeley, California cultural revolution, Melina exited her mother's shimmying womb into a vibrant life of dance, folk music & performance arts of all ilk.  She grew up performing with her parents on taverna stages & cabarets and in the circus ring, dividing her time between the ancient city of Athens, Greece and various cities on the East and West coast of America.

On the academic front, Melina is a magna cum laude graduate of Wellesley College and received a D.E.S. from the University of Geneva in Switzerland; she was a Ben Franklin Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania where she received her doctorate in late medieval French literature. She went on to teach at Boston College as an adjunct professor of French before rededicating herself full-time to her childhood arts of belly dance and circus.

Melina with Violinist Chris Wood in Circus Flora.
Photo by Scott Raffe.

Melina's overall approach to life -- including her teaching style and performances -- is open-hearted inclusiveness, a world-class level of artistry and professionalism combined with creativity, community, fun & challenge.  She has been invited to teach and perform around the world -- Athens, Greece, Paris, France, Singapore, Taiwan, New Zealand and all throughout the U.S.  Melina's vibrant and creative belly dance style, formed as a child at the hip of her mother on taverna stages in the Ancient City of Athens, Greece, is a blend of Greco-Turkish, American Cabaret, proto-Tribal (descending through her mother Rhea from the Jamila Salimpour school of dance), bohemian gypsy fantasy fusion. Her teaching is technically precise, down-to-earth, substantive and fun.  Her warm-ups and cool downs emphasize breathe, stretch, well-being, and listening to your body every step of the way.

Melina performing her one-of-a-kind sword and dagger balancing act in Singapore for Goddess Motion concert.

Melina is known for her daring and innovative use of props.  Her dance acts include balancing a tray of lit candles on her head while belly dancing (an art she has performed with since the age of seven), balancing a sword on a dagger clutched in her jaws and descending into a full split (she is the only belly dancer in the world to do this), an acrobatic tango on a ladder act,  Whirling Dancer/Turkish Drops, serpentine floorwork, a romantic trapeze duet, an aerial hoop dance and circus fusion act, dancing atop mobile candle holders and glass goblets, spoken word/snaking hips and more is in the works. She has created numerous choreographies that are performed by students worldwide, including Cleopatra's Frenzy, Pho Pharonic, Walk like and Egyptian, Omar's Delight, Misirlou and more.

Melina in Singapore Goddess Motion Performance

Melina of Daughters of Rhea has collaborated with many talented and versatile musicians, including her father - guitarist and singer/songwriter Phil Marsh, the soulful and rousing Athens-based Iraqi musician and singer Ali Arsoy, inspirational drum poet John de Kadt, The Fred Elias Ensemble, the extraordinary Steve Gorn, psychodelic fusionists Ian and Jason of Telesma, Spiritual 'Country Eastern' Band HuDost, jazzy Oud master Harry Bedrosian, Bouzouki player Yanni Mitaras, as well as Okbari, Aboudi Badawi, Jamal Sinno, Janine Del'Arte of Circus Flora, John Eurdolian of Karoun Restaurant,
KDZ Drummers of Kripalu, and many more.

Watch Melina's Incredible Sword Balanced on Dagger Act Via Streaming Video Melina's January 2007 TV performance and interview on "To The Pointe" with host Cinda Hill.

Melina and daughter Zoe Isadora
back stage at Circus Flora

Vew new clips of Melina 's World-Class Belly Dancing in Athens on YouTube!  Watch her ONE OF A KIND sword and dagger act!

Photo by Patty Aiello
Melina at BellyPalooza's "Belly Dance Magic" 2007 Show at the Baltimore Museum of Art. More images at

Check out Melina's aerial Cirque Passion performance at the Baltimore Museum of Art.


Melina tours the world as a circus aerialist and belly dance artist. Along with her husband (6th generation Czech circus star Sacha Pavlata), Melina has also toured with the legendary Flying Wallendas.  Besides performing her own aerial acts (an elegant aerial hoop dance fusion number and a romantic and daring trapeze duet with Sacha), Melina has assisted the wonderful Wallenda family on the high-wire platform and watched in awe as they, along with her husband Sacha who is in the Wallenda Troupe, crossed the wire in their jaw-dropping Seven-Person Pyramid formation (rest assured: Melina plans to leave hair-raising high wire walking without a net to the experts). Melina and Sacha own and produce the European-style one-ring family circus.

Melina belly dances on Candlesticks - photo by Dreamer's Realm Photography

Melina first belly danced on stage at the age of 2 with a costume pinned to her diapers.  When she was 6, Melinda’s maverick mother, oriental dance trailblazer Rhea, left the U.S. to lead a permanent life of dance in Athens, Greece. Throughout her childhood Melina criss-crossed the Atlantic traveling between amicably divorced parents. She danced professionally alongside her mother and sister Piper in the ancient city of Athens, Greece, then turned cartwheels in the circus ring on America’s West Coast where her father Phil Marsh was bandleader and songwriter for the Pickle Family Circus

 Melina is the only belly dancer in the world to balance a sword on a dagger clutched in her jaws!

 Click here to read student and audience comments about Melina's performances and teaching.

Melina has performed with a tray of burning candles on her head since she was 7 years old. The photo below of Melina was taken in Greece at the Athens by Night taverna in 1978.  Melina would dance with her mother Rhea at this taverna every night to live music, then go to school in the morning and get straight As.  Such is the life of a hybrid gypsy showbiz intello kid.

On the academic front, Melinda is a magna cum laude graduate of Wellesley College.  She holds a D.E.S. from the University of Geneva and, as a Ben Franklin Fellow, earned a Ph.D. in Late Medieval French Literature from the University of Pennsylvania in 1997.  What to say?  When she realized that her childhood arts of belly dancing and circus were more personally and spiritually rewarding than the Ivory Tower, she dedicated herself full-time to the free-lance circus and event producing, performing, teaching and writing life. 

Read Melina's Mission Statement and Oriental Dance Teaching Philosophy.  See her perform in Boston. Melina travels internationally to teach belly dance seminars and perform.  Check out her seminar platter for your next guest-instructor workshop or dance festival.

For a more detailed meditation on her life in academia, circus arts and belly dance, read an interview with Melina first published in Jareeda magazine. Check out her essays by clicking on the "writing" button on the left side panel.

Melina has been part of the Circus Flora company since 1995 and co-founded her own tented European-style Circus Company Cirque Passion along with 5th Generation Circus Performer Alexandre Sacha Pavlata.  She is also a founder of the ALS Therapy Development Institute.  Through her belly dance fundraiser galas on behalf of the foundation, Melina has raised over $100,000 to help eradicate Lou Gehrig's disease.  Please consider making a donation to ALS-TDI in support of their important work on behalf of ALS patients alive today.  Her work with the foundation is featured in a documentary So Much, So Fast, which opened in theatres across the U.S. in Fall '06.

Besides dance and circus, Melina loves to write. She is working on a memoir - Tips from the Hip - about lessons learned growing up belly dancing with Rhea in Greece.  Excerpts of her project have been published in Brain, Child magazine, the Boston Globe and Middle Eastern Dance in New England.  Her commentaries on motherhood and belly dancing aired on NPR's Marketplace.

Read Melina's Oriental Dance Mission Statement. Also, check out "Dancing From the Belly" Melina's essay on growing up in the heart of the art. Read a story on Melina's troupe in Boston Globe, and on Melina in Wellesley Magazine.

View new clips of Melina 's World-Class Belly Dancing in Athens on YouTube!  Watch her ONE OF A KIND sword and dagger act!

Melina dances in the air with 5th-generation Circus Performer Alexandre Sacha Pavlata.  Photo by Harald Boerstler.