World Belly Dance Day

come down and shimmy it up at this annual celebration

Marni Kaldjian

The second Saturday in May is dedicated to the celebration and art form of belly dancing. For the fourth year running, Eau Claire will be shaking its hips along with the rest of the world. Through the initiative of Laura Gaber, director and instructor at EC Shimmy, World Belly Dance Day (WBBD) will be observed at the Grand Little Theater. The festivities will feature 15-minute dance lessons with instructors teaching various styles, including Bollywood, tribal fusion, Egyptian and more. During an interlude, instructors and students will put on a grand performance while dancing to the beats of guest drummer Terrence Kern. For those who aren’t inclined to dance, artists will give henna tattoos and raffle tickets will be sold for items ranging from locally made jewelry and art to hand-assembled gift baskets. The profits from raffle tickets will be donated to Bolton Refuge House. “That’s part of the understanding with WBDD,” Gaber says. “If you are raising any kind of money, that that money will go to a women’s charity.” The stomach-shy are highly encouraged to attend, as a goal of the event is to educate and entertain the skeptics. As Gaber explains, “We hope that people who might be a little afraid of (belly dancing) come away seeing it as an art form, as something that anyone can do. … It’s a great way for women (and men!) to dance and learn together in a non-competitive environment.” Gaber emphasizes that the event is open to all ages and shapes, and that they want newcomers “to realize that it’s a safe environment to have fun and try something new.” Ultimately, the importance of WBDD goes beyond the single celebration, Gaber says. “Because it’s a world event, there’s something really exciting and unique about everybody that shares the same passion doing it universally. … We’re all dancing at the same time.” ­­