About Carol Tandava

Carol Tandava Henning has performed in the US and abroad as an actor, director, writer, producer, bellydancer, theatrical improviser, and comedienne.


A longtime student of Jungian thought, she actively applies archetypal principles to her work -- in particular her solo show Blood on the Veil, which explores the healing and transformative powers of dance.


A Brooklyn native and born performer, Carol stepped into her first pair of ballet and tap shoes at age five and continued to study dancing, singing, acting, and short-form improvisation through her late teens.


As she entered college, the comedy boom was in full swing, so she tried her hand at a few open mics and was instantly seduced by the audiences' laughter and applause.


She went on to perform at major venues including The Comedy Cellar, Stand-Up New York, The New York Comedy Club, The Boston Comedy Club, and The Comic Strip where she shared the stage with soon-to-be luminaries including Sarah Silverman, Dave Attell, Dave Chappelle, Judah Friedlander, Jay Mohr, Marc Maron, and many others.

To enhance her stagecraft, Carol began to study acting at HB Studio, Sande Shurin Acting Studios, and T Schreiber Acting Conservatory, and continued her work with NY-based theater companies including New Directions Theatre, Love Creek Productions, Theater-Studio Inc, Lighting Strikes Productions, and Interborough Repertory Theatre, where she honed her skills as an actor, director, writer, stage manager, light and sound technician, producer, and all-around theater-person.


In 2000, she suffered a traumatic abdominal injury and surgery, which was further exacerbated by the herniation of three discs in her lower back, leaving her with limited mobility and severe internal and external scarring.


She tried various remedies from physical therapy to surgery to yoga to pilates to tai chi, but her condition did not improve much.


In 2004 she began to study SharQui, a fitness-based bellydance method created by award-winning dancer and fitness professional Oreet, and began to feel improvement almost immediately. Bellydance did more than help her build muscular strength and flexibility; the deep core movements began to dissolve the scar tissue as well as bring awareness to her body.


She fell in love with bellydance, Middle Eastern music, and the beautiful community of dancers and musicians devoted to this art.


In addition to her work in SharQui, Carol furthered honed her dance technique in a wide variety of Egyptian, Turkish, Lebanese, and American cabaret styles with New York dance legends including Ranya, Shoshanna, Rayhana, Dalia Carella, Aszmara, Nourhan Sharif, Jehan, Mariyah, Mark Balahadia, Tarik Sultan, Morocco, Tamar-Kali, Altgracia, Elena Lentini, Yousry Sharif, Mohamed Shahin, and Anahid Sofian, as well as visiting instructors Diana Tarkhan, Leila Molaei, Tamalyn Dallal, Bozenka, Jillina, Sonia, Louchia, Jim Boz, Ansuya, Alexandra King, Shareen el Safy, Linda Faoro, Mohamed El Hosseny, Randa Kamel, Ahmed Hussein, Raqia Hassan, Zahra Zuhair and Faten Salama.


Portrait by Sarah SkinnerShe continued to develop other performing skills by completing The PIT's 5-level course in long-form improvisation, three levels of improvisation and musical improvisation at The Magnet, and Artistic New Directions' workshops and intensive retreats with Second City's J. Michael Gellman, Scotty Watson, the Groundlings' founder Gary Austin, and other improv luminaries. 


She currently hones her acting skills in T. Schreiber's weekly scene study class with Peter Jensen, and has studied and performed Shakespeare with Charles E. Gerber of the Workshop Theater's classics wing and the Royal Shakespeare Company's Lisa Harrow.


Carol also actively practices a variety of spiritual movement techniques, including Dunya's Dancemeditation, and Gabrielle Roths's 5Rhythms, along with Sufi whirling and veil meditation with Adnan Sarhan and Nahari.


She continues to study and perform other movement techniques, including contact improv with Jesse Johnson, mime with America's foremost master of the art, Richmond Shepard -- most recently appearing in his autobiographical show "You Want to Be a What?!?" at NYC's venerable nightspot Don't Tell Mama -- as well as clowning with Hilary Chaplain and Aitor Basauri, Bollywood with Bollywood Funk, Aerial Yoga, Cord Lisse with Keibpoli Calnek, GoJu Ryu karate, with the late Sensei Aaron Banks and his prodigies Sensei George Welles and Sensei Sol Reuveni, and stage combat with Fights4 and Combat Inc.


She adopted the dancer name Tandava -- the Sansrkit word for the god Shiva's dance, which is the soucre of the cycle of creation, preservation and dissolution -- as her work in bellydance brought about a profound rebirth in her creative energy.


She has peformed as an actor, dancer, emcee, comic, and mime, at venues throughout the city, including Theater Row, Theater for the New City, Don't Tell Mama, Stage Left Studio, the PIT Theater, the Harold Clurman Theater, The Samuel Beckett Theater, Lafayette Grill, Figaro Caf�, the Grisley Pear, DROM, Le Souk, Mezzo Mezzo, Je'Bon, K-Lounge, Sullivan Room, Blue Owl, The Chelsea Room, and many others. 


Carol Tandava has completed Tamalyn Dallal's Teacher's Training certification course, and she has certifications in Suhaila Salimpour technique (Level 1), and ACE and AFAA group fitness. She has taught bellydance at Brooklyn venues including Greenhouse Holistic, Move with Grace, and Shambhala and currently teaches SharQui�: The Bellydance Workout at Bellydance America on Sundays.

To further her understanding of Middle Eastern music and its defining rhythms, Carol Tandava also studies the dumbek (Middle Eastern goblet drum, also called tabla or darabuka) and zills (finger cymbals, also called sagat)  with such notables as  Raquy Danziger, Rami El Asser, Karim Nagi (dumbek & zills), Sudan Baronian (zills).


She has danced and developed work with a variety of troupes, including PURE, the Rising Sirens, Altagracia's Caribbean Roses, Nashida's Charm, Ranya's Maqamikaze (performing the Mwashahat), and Dalia Carella's Dance Collective.


Due to her experience in stand-up comedy, she is frequently asked to emcee dance galas and showcases and occasionally performs at comedy clubs. She has developed her material and performance technique with notable comedy teachers including Eddie Brill, David LaBarca, Tom Shillue, and Buddy Flip.


Always the student, Carol Tandava is a long-time member of the venerable Analytical Psychology Club of New York at the Jung Foundation and avidly attends Jungian seminars, workshops and retreats, and immerses herself in the works of CG Jung, along with other luminaries in the field of depth psychology, archetype and mythos, including Erich Neumann, James E Hollis, Marie-Louise von Franz, Joseph Campbell, Marion Woodman, Mary Ayers and many others.


In 2009, she began to develop a dance-theater work exploring body image, the struggle to come to terms with media-driven beauty standards and the path to healing offered by dance in a supportive community of women. This became a tremendous opportunity for Carol to employ all of the skills she had developed through her work in theater, dance, and Jungian theory to become the show's director and creator of its deeply psychological and symbolic narrative.


A profoundly resonant work, performers and audiences throughout the world have embraced the resulting work, PURE Reflections: Beauty Reimagined. It has been produced several times in the New York area, as well as in Connecticut, Japan, Taiwan, and Florida, each time with a different cast.


Within a week, Carol and her co-facilitators led the new cast through a series of introspective and emotionally expressive workshops and rehearsals, each time with magical results. Dancers and audiences have reported finding the experience life-changing and through it gained a new perspective on women, beauty, body-image, and the path to caring for and loving oneself.


In 2011 she began to develop her signature work, Blood on the Veil, in the PIT's DIY workshops led by Jen Nails. This unique theatrical show combines riveting monologues about Carols' personal experience in bellydance as well as the art form's history and current manifestations. It has been praised by audiences and critics alike as "mesmerizing", "heart-shaking", and "inspiring."


She has performed the show with as many as thirty guest dancers in venues throughout NYC including the Richmond Shepard Theater, Stage Left Studio, Theater Row Studios (in the United Solo Festival), Write Act Repertory Theater, and Theater for the New City. The show has also toured to San Francisco's EXIT Stage Left Theater, and Orlando's John & Rita Lowndes Shakespeare Center.


To continually develop herself as a person and performer, Carol Tandava pursues a wide variety of other interests and volunteer activities. She has donated her time as an advanced reading tutor for Learning Leaders and as a small craft sailing instructor for The American Small Craft Association for many years.



Carol also scuba dives in all that spare time she has.


Carol Tandava is currently partnered with Indorican Dance.


In September 2016 Blood on the Veil was awarded "Best Dance Show" by Raqs Without Borders. 


Carol's writing has been published in Zaghareet, and most recently in Mirror on the Veil: A Collection of Personal Essays on Hijab and Veiling,  edited by Nausheen Pasha-Zaidi and Shaheen Pasha.