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You’re invited to watch family-friendly belly dancing

Arts & Entertainment

A coffeehouse in Idaho Falls is hosting a monthly belly dancing exhibition.

The next showcase is Friday, Aug. 19, from 7 to 9 p.m., at The Egyptian Coffeehouse downtown, where at least four local belly dancers will treat audience members to a variety of styles of the Middle Eastern dance form.

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

“They were so bored and bummed after COVID,” Ireland said. “They hadn’t been out together dancing for a very long time, and they wanted somewhere to just go and dance – some sort of a public venue, no charge, nothing fancy – just to exhibit different styles of belly dance.”

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

“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 almost a year ago, Smith describes dancing as her therapy. She emphasizes creating a place where people are able to dance and be themselves without worrying about drama or bullying.

This philosophy is something both Smith and Ireland share.

Ireland, who also owns Healing Hands Metaphysical Store, said, “We have a greater philosophy in both places of creating a safe space for people to express themselves … where people just feel welcomed to go ahead and let their guard down and have a good time.”

Having a good time is the theme of the evening. It is a family-friendly event with no cover charge.

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

And at the end of the evening, 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 just feel good.”

Although Ireland hopes these showcases help remove stigmas about belly dancing, she also wants audience members to see it as an activity for every body shape, every age, any gender, and that it is fun.

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

“My favorite is that they balance a sword on their head while they dance,” Ireland said. “And that’s really cool.”

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

Audience members can expect a crowd in the small venue, but Ireland said she makes sure all walkways are wide enough for wheelchairs so that those with mobility issues can attend. She encourages anyone interested to arrive early.

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

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