Belly dancers of all stripes shimmy on stage SaturdayTen-year-old Ariana Ferguson is the youngest dancer who will perform in Duluth’s all-fusion belly dance show Saturday, Jan. 26.
By: Esther Piszczek, For the Budgeteer News
Ten-year-old Ariana Ferguson is the youngest dancer who will perform in Duluth’s all-fusion belly dance show Saturday, Jan. 26.
She will be one of 17 group-, troupe-, and solo acts who will perform choreographed pieces combining cultural dance styles with the ancient art of belly dance in Teatro Zuccone’s intimate theater setting.
“Fusion belly dance combines other styles with traditional belly dance moves including Indian Bollywood, African drum, steam punk, tribal, ballet, and Spanish. It is about exploring other styles of dance and blending those styles with belly dance,” says Anna Ferguson, an instructor, the show’s organizer, and Ariana’s mother.
Ariana, who began taking ballet lessons when she was just three years old, has no formal belly dance training. She learned belly dance solely through watching her mother and others dance. Over time, Ariana blended her classically trained ballet moves with her self-taught belly dance moves to create something entirely new. She will perform a ballet-belly dance fusion piece at the show.
One of the many experienced instructors dancing in the show, Sheila Matthews, says fusion belly dance “just opens up the avenues to the dancers to have a little more creativity and it is a lot of fun. It is something new and different and interesting for the viewers.”
Matthews, who has been teaching for 14 years, is heavily involved in the show’s production. Her two student groups, Jewels of the Nile, who have been dancing together since 2002, and Basimah, a newer group that has been together for the past two years, will dance in the show.
The Jewels of the Nile will perform what she calls a “bellywood dance,” a combination of Indian Bollywood and traditional belly dance. “It is a more modern style of Indian dance; less traditional music and more contemporary music is used,” Matthews said. The Jewels of the Nile will dance to a contemporary Middle Eastern song.
The Basimah (pronounced “bah-see-mah”) dancers will dance a creative fusion piece to Middle Eastern music.
Matthews will also dance with the Dreamdance Diehard Divas, a troupe she has been a part of since its inception in 2003. The troupe’s director, Kathy Montgomery, says “we all started out as traditional belly dancers. It’s fun, but it’s nice to break out and try new things, and we always like the idea of being innovative, and started choreographing. It’s just a natural progression for us as a group. It’s kind of fun to develop your own niche.”
Dancers involved in the show, however, are not limited to those in the Duluth area. Deborah Weckert teaches classes in Cloquet and has students who travel from Barnum, Britt and Virginia every week to dance as a group. Britt is 69 miles North of Cloquet.
Weckert’s student group, the Beledi Middle Eastern Dancers, will perform a steam punk-belly dance fusion piece for the show. Weckert describes steam punk as “very retro with a modern twist.” Dancers typically wear clothes and accessories from the 1920s including hats, gauntlets, bustiers, and lacy socks. In addition to its unique costuming, steam punk-belly dance fusion incorporates moves from many different dance styles including “hip hop, Pharaonic (Egyptian style), belly dance, modern dance, and even cheerleading moves like those performed by Britney Spears,” says Weckert, who describes the dance as “robotic, smooth, different.” Weckert will also perform a solo dance in the show.
African drum, American tribal, Spanish, and gothic-belly dance fusion will also be represented at the show.
Organizer Anna Ferguson says, “I’m really excited about all the variety and creativity the dancers are bringing to the show; it will be an impressive and fun evening of dance entertainment.”
Tickets for the Jan. 26 “A Fusion Belly Dance” can be purchased online at www.teatrozuccone.com or by calling the box office at 218-336-1416. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 4-12. The show begins at 7:30 p.m.