Tarifa Portfolio Shot Cropped Photo by Arlene SpagnaTarifa (Donna) Salem, Middle Eastern Dance Artist, founded Tarifa Salem Eastern Dance Arts in 2010 after resigning from her long career in academics where she taught Dance, PE and Health. Her Lebanese background played a big role in her involvement with the Middle Eastern Dance Arts. Though she had been exposed to Middle Eastern Dance and Music throughout her childhood and had extensive dance training in western genres, her uncle/mentor, Ibrahim Farrah inspired her to develop her art and pursue graduate studies in dance.  She performed with the Ibrahim Farrah Near East Dance Group from 1979-1982. During that period, she was a featured dancer at exclusive clubs and special events in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Though she studied with Mr. Farrah intensively from 1978 – 1983, she took classes regularly from respected company member (artists in their own right) Phaedra, Jajouka, Elena, Ahmed Hussien and Yousry Sharif. While working on her MA Degree in Dance Education from NYU which she earned in 1982 she studied Classical Indian Dance with East Indian Dance Artist/Guru, Indrani,  Afro-Caribbean dance with Dunham protege, Lavinia Williams and Flamenco Dance with Carlota Santana, founder of Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana. She was a performing member of NYU based Modern Dance Company Kaleidoscope under the direction of Judith Schwartz.  Her employment at the exclusive Nightingale Bamford School in NYC as a Dance/PE teacher from 1978 – 1980 influenced her decision to return to the academic setting after having her first child in 1983. She taught Dance, Health and PE in the Pennsylvania and Florida Public Schools until 2009. She has taken numerous workshops with Internationally known artists, good friends and former colleagues to maintain and continue her growth as a dance artist. She continues to perform when contracted to though her focus has shifted to training, choreography and private coaching. In the past 5 years she has taught workshops in West Palm Beach (Dec. 2013), Memphis, Tennessee (April 2014), New York City (July 2014), Jacksonville, Fl (Dec. 2014), Orlando, Fl (Jan. 2015), Pittsburgh (Aug. 2015), New York City (Aug. 2015), Miami, Fl (Feb. 7, 2016), Orlando, Fl (Feb. 27, 2016), Pittsburgh (Aug. 2016), Danbury, Ct (Dec. 2-5, 2016) Jacksonville, Fl (June 25, 2017), St. Augustine, Fl (Feb. 2018) and Pensacola, Fl (May 2018).

Degrees and Certifications:

  • MA in Dance Education from New York University (1982)
  • BS in Health and Physical Education, Dance Emphasis from West Chester University (1978)
  • Certification in Strength & Conditioning Specialist (Dr. Anthony Abbot Fitness Institute, Boca Raton, Fl. 1989)
  • Certification in Group Fitness Leadership (Dr. Anthony Abbot Fitness Institute, Boca Raton, Fl. 1989)
  • ASEP Leader Level Coaching Principles Course (2001)
  • SilverSneakers MSROM Certification, Healthways (2009)
  • SilverSneakers Cardio Circuit Certification, Healthways (2010)
  • SilverSneakers Yoga/Stretch Certification, Healthways (2011)
  • Certified Personal Trainer, IFTA (2016, 20017)
  • Specialty Certification in Aqua Fitness Instructor, IFTA (2016)
  • Specialty Certification in Aqua Ballet Barre Instructor, IFTA (2016)
  • CPR certification from American Safety and Health Institute valid through January 2019


  • National Dance Education Organization (NDEO)
  • International Dance Counsil (CID)

Client Reviews:

Coralie LaRoche
“Tarifa was such a pleasure to work with. We needed a choreograph bachata danced for our wedding first dance and we only had a week to learn it. She accommodated us very quickly and she did an amazing job. She is very patient, easy to work with, friendly, and very fun. On our last session, she gave us a wedding present, which was so nice and thoughtful of her. I can’t wait to show off our dance to our guests in 8 days. Thank you so much Tarifa for everything. Would definitely recommend Tarifa and would love to take any classes you may have in the future.”
December 4, 2015
Carolyn Redford
“I am lucky to learn eastern dance the RIGHT way. Tarifa teaches and explains the fundamentals of dance, and drills you on proper technique. She is highly educated, well read on the eastern thought that influence dance and shares freely in class. She is focused so that not even a minute is wasted in class. Highly recommended and there will definitely be a void in my dance process as she departs to start her new life.”
September 16, 2014
Cecilia Lester
“I have been studying belly dance since 1999. I began studying with Tarifa in 2012. Tarifa brought my dance to a new level. Her humor, knowledge, enthusiasm and love of all dance pushed me to dig deeper and work harder. I will be forever grateful for her guidance and friendship.”
September 16, 2014
Norma Barbee
“Tarifa is an excellent dance teacher; she is thorough, patient, and very knowledgeable of many different forms of dance from classical ballet to modern/jazz and middle eastern dance. Highly recommend!”
September 16, 2014
Millie Blonder
“Tarifa Salem, is an experience instructor of dance. I have taken class and the way she broke down the movements were easy to understand. In the field of dance, she is experienced in Ballet, Jazz, Physical Fitness and Middle Eastern Dance. She is an expert choreographer.”
September 15, 2014
Karin Manchen
“Being a senior has not deterred me from taking up dancing. Luckily, I met Tarifa Salem. She obviously has a solid background in training techniques, anatomy, fitness and a healthy and effective use of one’s muscles. I received a better workout from her than in various fitness classes I had taken. And all of this while introducing me to the joys of dancing!”
September 14, 2014
Tarifa Salem Eastern Dance Arts has been selected for the Jacksonville Small Business Excellence Award, Jacksonville,FL  — Tarifa Salem Eastern Dance Arts has been selected for the 2018 Jacksonville Small Business Excellence Award in the Dance Studios classification by the Jacksonville Small Business Excellence Award Program.  Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The Jacksonville Small Business Excellence Award Program focuses on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the Jacksonville Small Business Excellence Award Program and data provided by third parties.
About the Jacksonville Small Business Excellence Awards Program:
The Jacksonville Small Business Excellence Awards recognizes outstanding small businesses that serve the Jacksonville area. Each year, our selection committee identifies businesses that we believe have achieved outstanding marketing success in their local community and business classification.  Recognition is given to those companies that have shown the ability to use their best practices and implemented programs to generate competitive advantages and long-term value. These are small businesses that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers
and our community. These exceptional companies help make the Jacksonville area a vibrant and vital place to live.  The Jacksonville Small Business Excellence Awards was established to reward the best of small businesses in Jacksonville. Our organization works exclusively with local business owners, trade groups, professional associations and other business advertising and marketing groups. Our mission is to award the small business community’s contributions to the U.S. economy.
Jacksonville Small Business Excellence Award Program

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