Belly dancing will make the city swirl

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Through Therese Smith October 22, 2013

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WHEN MARINA Rehbein launched the International Bellydance Festival for eight years, nearly 70 dancers responded to her call to showcase their belly dancing skills in Cape Town.

This year, she expects nearly 600 dancers from 60 schools across the country as well as the Balkans, Mexico, Egypt and Turkey to present gypsy, fusion, folk and fantasy dances.

Not only has the festival grown year after year, but she is happy to report that the quality of the dance is improving.

“The costumes and the choreography from years ago, there is no comparison. People are working all year round to be perfect for this festival. Every year we can see how South African dancers are improving, ”said Rehbein, director of the Oriental Dance Theater Palace of the Winds.

From the first year, the festival intended to unite the South African oriental dance community and give the dancers a way to present their skills to the international community.

A new addition to this year’s festival is the inclusion of the winner of Miss Belly Dance South Africa 2013 in the fringe program. The inclusion of Bianca Pieters in the program was one of the prizes of the newly formed competition, which was held earlier this year in Joburg.

A regular event of the festival is the gala, which is held on Thursday evenings at the Mega VU Theater in Ratanga Junction. Profits from the event are donated to the Saartjie Baartman Center for (abused) women and children. Last year the festival raised 13,000 rand for the center. There are still tickets available at Computicket. This year’s gala evening will feature classical Egyptian and Turkish dances as well as Moroccan dances, traditional Bangladeshi dances and Arabic flamenco.

Rehbein is particularly looking forward to the 22 dancers from Bangladesh Nrittorong Academy as they are a group that has not visited Cape Town.

Two popular dancers who have been here before are Nicole McLaren, from Switzerland, and Latifa Saadi, a pioneer of oriental dance in Réunion.

McLaren is a renowned supporter of Tanoura – a form of Egyptian dance performed by men, similar to the Sufi swirling in the Levant and Turkey, but without the religious connotation.

Friday is devoted to master classes and workshops at the German Club in Gardens.

These are open to the public, in addition to the dancers who will descend to Cape Town for the weekend dance.

On Saturdays and Sundays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., the dancers all take turns participating in the program on the sidelines of the V&A Waterfront Amphitheater, showing everything from traditional Moroccan folk dance to tribal fusion, a modern style that has evolved from the tribal American-style belly dance to incorporate elements ranging from hip hop to traditional Indian Kathak dance.

• See www.iodfcapetown.com for more information


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