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A little about Debbie Despina Cartsos

Innovative instructor and virtuoso performer Despina is obsessed with belly dance. The rich sounds of music from her Greek childhood and the tantalizing movements of belly dancers in the Greek night clubs awakened a passion within her to study the dance. Despina’s belly dance adventure started in 2005 in Fat Chance Belly Dance Style, now described Global Fusion belly dance. She later on discovered the Salimpour Institute (AKA the *University of Belly Dance*) through her teacher Irina Bellyrina Wen. Her connection to the dance fueled her to continue her training and exploration by joining world renowned choreographer's Dalia Carella’s classes. 

Despina's unique dance style seamlessly blends modern and vintage belly dance influenced by her Greek heritage, Dalia Carella and the Salimpour format. You can find her performing and teaching in NYC and at various belly dance festival's within the US. Despina is also a proud member of the Dalia Carella Dance Collective.

Teaching in Astoria, Queens, Despina creates a dynamic and enjoyable learning environment for her students, who attest to her ability to challenge them to dance safely with ease, grace, and power.

Young Despina in her belly dance gear
Despina's Mission 

To cultivate a community of belly dancers who not only share a passion for the art but also embrace its rich history and music.


Despina aims to showcase the evolution of belly dance to her students and followers by presenting choreographic work that reflects its growth over time, incorporating both her own creations and those of her teachers. With guidance from her mentors, Despina navigates this dance form safely while imparting innovative approaches to movement to both newcomers and seasoned dancers.


She endeavors to honor her dance lineage while infusing her own interpretations, spreading joy and knowledge through comprehensive resources. Despina's ultimate aspiration is to inspire future dancers while nurturing their unique voices.

Michael Ortiz
Lou Galarza

Over the years, Despina witnessed the incredible cultural exchange that took place within the Bouzoukia, not only in Greece but also on an international scale. The live music bands consisted of talented musicians from all corners of the world, and the dancers hailed from diverse backgrounds. It was a melting pot of creativity and talent. This isn't only what Despina witnessed but she has had lengthy conversations with her teachers about their experiences dancing in Greek nightclubs. 

While teaching in Astoria, Despina's expertise caught the attention of a Greek woman who sought private lessons specifically for dancing in club and party settings. This inspired Despina to start teaching online belly dance classes during the pandemic. Her classes covered both old-school and modern belly dance Greek songs, with a focus on providing students with translations of the music. The classes became a tremendous success as students not only enjoyed learning the meaning behind each song but also felt uplifted, as if they had just experienced the energy of the Bouzoukia firsthand.

Greek style belly dance is known as Tsifteteli and it is a SOCIAL dance. Despina draws strong influence from her mother's side of the family, originating from Fwkea, the offshore areas of Turkey from where her family evacuated and eventually settled in Mytilini, Lesvos. Her uncle and cousin are skilled bouzouki players and songwriters, while her aunt and uncle excel in singing Rembetika and Smyrneika songs. This rich family heritage deeply shapes Despina's approach to choreography and teaching.

When Despina choreographs to Greek music and instructs her students, she takes them on an immersive journey to feel and experience the music on a profound level. Her goal is to empower her students to dance freely, enabling them to incorporate what they learn from her into their own unique dance journeys.


At the Bouzoukia with Despina

Debbie Despina Cartsos discovered her passion for belly dancing in the vibrant Greek nightclubs known as Bouzoukia, where she was captivated by the mesmerizing belly dancers performing to live music. Even as a child, she received a handmade mini Bedlah from a belly dancer who performed at OPA, her parents' favorite Greek spot. Her infatuation with the art form was so strong that her mom had to hide the costume, as she refused to take it off despite outgrowing it. Despina vividly remembers the rush, joy, and admiration she felt when the belly dancers took the stage. In her family, she was the designated tipper, always eager to support the performers. As soon as the dancers signaled the open floor for everyone to join in, Despina would be the first to showcase her moves, radiating her passion for the art.

Despina with  bellydancer
Dancer's Eye Photography
Despina's primary focus in training is under the Salimpour Institute and Dalia Carella.
Primary Instructors: Dalia Carella, Suhaila Salimpour, Angelique Hanesworth, Donna Manalo and the L5 instructors of the Salimpour Institute.   


Spring 2024: Salimpour Institute 201d - Currently Enrolled

Fall 2023- Salimpour Institute 201dd preparation for 201d

May 2020 - Boho Blade Apprentice with Belladona Boheme (Level 1 Certified)

November 2018 - L1 Suhaila Format Intensive with Angelique Hanesworth in New York City, NY (Level 1 Certified)

August-September 2018 - Certification of completion Natalie Nazzario's 8 week Mahraganat Course New York City, NY

June 2018- L1 Suhaila Salimpour Intensive in New York City, NY

January 2015 - ATS® Teacher Training ATS Homecoming in SF (Teacher Training Certified) FatChanceBellyDance® Style

June 2014 - L1 Jamila Format Intensive with Suhaila in New York City, NY (Level 1 Certified)

June 2013 - L1 Suhaila Salimpour Intensive in New York City, NY



Various Workshops:

October 3rd and 4th: Suhaila Salimpour 2 Day Intensive in New York City, NY

October 2014 - Rajasthani Gypsy Caravan, workshop taught by Suva Devi & the Ustad Arba Music Group 

May 2013 - Rachel Brice "Vintage Stylizations with Spins, Levels & Zils"

May 2013 -  Kami Liddle "Gettin' Hyphy with Saidi"

May 2012 -  Kami Liddle "ATS inspired Fusion"

April 2012 -  Rachel Brice: "The Balancing Act"

July 2011 -  Tribal Pura Workshop with Carolena Nericcio director of FatChanceBellyDance® and Megha Gavin

September 2009  - Tribal Pura Workshop with Carolena Nericcio director of FatChanceBellyDance® and Megha Gavin

February 2009 - ATS® General Skills at the FatChanceBellyDance® Studio in SF (GS Certified) taught by Carolena Nericcio-Bohlman

Despina's Dad
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