The Desert Winds & The Tropical Winds

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The Desert Winds Dance Troupe is the oldest continuing Middle Eastern Dance Troupe in Indiana, having been formed in 1975.  Their alter ego: The Tropical Winds, emerges when they perform Polynesian/Hawaiian.  In 2010 the Tropical Winds were invited to join the Prestigious Troupe, the Hawaiian Breezes. The Hawaiian Breezes are an extremely active troupe of men and women. Their diector is lead Kuma Michelle Wedding. The Tropical Winds and Hawaiian Breezes have been performing together as a single troupe since that time.

The Desert Winds' members include one of the founders of the Indiana State Association of Middle Eastern Teachers and Dancers, Inc., ("ISAMETD", see and several Desert Winds members, past and present, have held and currently hold offices. The Desert Winds hold the title for the troupe with the longest membership with ISAMETD.

Elizabeth Ann joined the Desert Winds troupe in 1990 and in 1997 became the third director and choreographer of the troupe.  Under the direction of Elizabeth Ann, the Desert Winds continue the tradition of performing at The International Festival, Penrod Art Society's Festival, Black Expo, and various other festivals and dance events.  

The troupe does not limit itself to only belly dance, however. Director Betty Ridgeway and troupe members Joy Dean and Colletta Koshiba were also accomplished Polynesian dancers. In 1988 they travelled with Cheryl Bell's first Polynesian dance retreat to Oahu, Hawaii. These ladies in turn taught the troupe Polynesian dance. The Desert Winds traded off their lotus flowers for hibiscus and plumera and from that time forward would also be known as the Tropical Winds. Under Elizabeth Ann's directorship the Winds have diversified even further and have branched to perform modern interpretative dance as the Transylvania Winds.

      The Desert Winds has been the first troupe experience for many beginners and students who, under the tutilage of the Winds, have matured into acomplished dancers and teachers themselves. Even when they leave for other endeavors, they know they can always come home to the Desert Winds


The Desert Winds were performers at St. Mark's Methodist Church (the troupe's rehersal space home) during the annual Holy Walk living history at Christmas time. Inside the tent left to right are Joseph the camel, Lawrence (who played King Herod's son and heir to the throne) and  behind him: mother Josephine. Also performing [below by the tent]: Heddy, Debra, Jennifer, Josephine, Lawrence, Barbara, Sherrie, Trellis, & Elizabeth Ann.

The Desert Winds are well known for their versatility and good hearted sense of humor. Here (above) the most recent members of the troop are performing antics during a show this past Halloween as the Tropical Winds, with a flower lei tug of war behind (unsuspecting) director Elizabeth Ann's back. In the back from left to right: Barbara, Josephine, Trellis [hidden], Heddy [hidden], Gail, and a very excited Janet.

In the same show, the Desert Winds de-evolved a full 180 degrees into the Transylvania Winds and did a Disco Vampire Diva number. From left to right are vampish ladies Sherrie, Barbara, Gail, Elizabeth Ann, Shirah, Trellis, and Josephine:










From left to right: Roseanna, Elizabeth Ann, Gail, and Kamelia at Indiana Black Expo.


More Desert Winds at the end of the ISAMETD Costume Workshop and Hafla (Elizabeth Ann was the Director and stage manager for the events)

Desert Winds with Uncle Sam on July 4th.




Joy & Gail, circa 1987










 Deserts Winds with then director and choreographer Betty Ridgeway [far left], back row Sharon Freeman, Sharon Wilson, Annette Bolton, Deborah Hunt, Joy Dean, and Clo Lillig; front row left: Gail Claycomb and friends. Circa 1983:




On August 12, 2007, Gail and Colletta were awarded ISAMETD's first Member's Apreciation & Recognition Award ("MARC") for their services to  ISAMETD and the Middle Eastern dance community. Colletta is a founding member of  ISAMETD and has been a member ever since. Gail has the sole distinction of having been elected and serving for ten (10) continuous years in the office of Treasurer while also being a member for 26 years. Also receiving the award was Judy Eudaly, another founding member.  On January  24, 2009, Desert Winds member Lynn Ciurej was awarded the MARC Award for her ten years of service as ISAMETD's Vice President.  Congratulations ladies!





Dancing With the Angels: Desert Winds Member Diana Joy Dean

Elizabeth Ann remembers "Joy":

"When I started with the Desert Winds in 1990, it was a milestone in my life and I remember it very well: It was August 19, 1990, Monday, at 7:00 P.M. at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Carmel. The Winds (as they affectionately nicknamed themselves) met weekly for dance rehersals in the church's then, storage room.

"I met several incredible women that would become my dance mentors and best friends. One such  woman was a dancer  by the name of Diana Joy Dean.  A widow, she was known by most by her middle name and dance persona as "Joy".  Her name perfectly encompassed who she was. 

"Joy was gifted in many styles of dancing. Besides Middle Eastern Dance, she was accomplished in  Polynesian, Hawaiian, Country and Country Line, Ball Room, and Latin dancing. Amazed at this extensive repetoire, and trying to find a term that best described these many talents, I then coined the term "cross dancer" that night. She, along with my good teacher Colletta Kosiba, taught me Polynesian and Hawaiian dance. Joy took me to formal Ball Room dance exibitions as well as Honky Tonky Texas line dance halls. My knowledge and appreciation of the vast styles of dance was greatly enhanced because of Joy. [Right: Joy Performing with the Tropical Winds, circa 1990.]

"Regardless of the performance, Joy always was the dancer to watch. Who would not want to look at this beautiful Muse of dance with her large warm smile, thick long red hair, strong long legs, and perfectly sculpted body. But in 1997 she came to me having been diagnosed with breast cancer and I referred her to the  state's best breast cancer surgeon and we all thought she was cured as the years passed. But in the fall of 2005 she was found to have extensive metatasis. She danced as long as her body would allow and on May 31, 2006, the most beautiful dancer of the Winds, gently danced on the wind into Heaven.

"I have been blessed to have had Joy in my life. Elizabeth Ann"

To see the memorial for Joy, including Joy in various dance costumes, go to: and at the bottom of the page hit "view video".