You are invited to watch belly dancing as a family

A cafe in Idaho Falls hosts a monthly belly dancing expo.

The next showcase will take place on Friday, August 19, from 7 to 9 p.m., at the Downtown Egyptian Cafe, where at least four local belly dancers will offer viewers a variety of Middle Eastern dance styles.

Amy Smith of Idaho Falls, who coordinates belly dancing activities in the area, told EastIdahoNews.com that she and fellow dancer Leslie Dolan met Terri Ireland, owner of The Egyptian Coffeehouse, about doing a belly dancing show because the only way for them to dance was always psychic fairs.

“They were so annoyed and disappointed after COVID,” Ireland said. “They hadn’t danced together in a very long time, and they wanted a place to go dancing — some kind of public place, no charge, nothing fancy — just to show off different styles of belly dancing.”

What started as a show has turned into a monthly event with more dancers joining over the past few months. Each dancer performs one or two songs before an intermission and one or two songs after, showing off the expertise they’ve honed over the years and practicing new skills that might be more intimidating to try with a larger audience.

“It gives us a chance, especially me, to step out of our comfort zone and do something different,” said Smith, who has Parkinson’s disease.

Diagnosed nearly a year ago, Smith describes dancing as his therapy. She focuses on creating a place where people can dance and be themselves without worrying about drama or bullying.

This philosophy is something Smith and Ireland share.

Ireland, which also owns Healing Hands Metaphysical Store, said: “We have a bigger ethos in both places of creating a safe space for people to express themselves… where people just feel welcome to go. forward and let their guard down and have a good time.”

Having a good time is the theme of the evening. This is a family event with no entry fees.

“There’s no alcohol, there’s no swearing, there’s no nudity. It’s just fun,” Ireland said.

And at the end of the night, everyone in the audience can get up and dance too.

“I want (the audience) to feel good,” Smith said. “Forget about life for a while and feel good.”

While Ireland hopes these showcases will help remove the stigma of belly dancing, they also want members of the public to see it as an activity for all body shapes, ages, genders, and that it’s funny.

As for the show itself, Smith said there will be many styles on display including Greek, Egyptian, Fusion and possibly North African. Each belly dance style has similarities but is as different as the region it represents. Greek belly dancing is very fast, while tribal, from North Africa, is slow, very controlled movements performed in groups with a rotating leader, and fusion can combine elements of traditional styles as well as dance modern.

“My favorite is them swinging a sword over their head as they dance,” Ireland said. “And that’s really cool.”

The music will also be varied, ranging from traditional belly dancing music to modern songs from artists like Rhyanna, the B52s and Telly Savalas.

Spectators can expect crowds in the small venue, but Ireland said it is ensuring all aisles are wide enough for wheelchairs so those with reduced mobility can attend. She encourages anyone interested to arrive early.

“Just keep an open mind and have fun,” Smith said. “Feel what you feel. If you feel like shouting and cheering us on, we love that, and it makes us dance even more, and even better because it’s easier if you have a crowd having fun.

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