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Putting the dance in Bellydance


The Midwest Gala of Bellydance will feature special guest, Rania.

The Midwest Gala of Bellydance will feature special guest, Rania.

The raw sexuality of a scantily-clad woman is enough to get any straight man a little hot under the collar. Add the hip gyrating and an ebb-and-flowing abdomen, and it’s easy to see why the bellydancer is one of the most attractive artletes around. For professionals, the dance is as much a part of their lives off the stage as it is on it, but for those simply interested in the craft and culture, there’s so much more to it.

So what can folks expect from the inaugural Midwest Gala of Bellydance?

“FUN!!” said exceptionally enthusiastic Gala organizer and bellydancer Kristina Moseley. “Here in the Midwest, there is an amazing community of bellydancers. This is the perfect opportunity to see what it is really about. Just like any other art form, it takes dedication, hard work and a love for the dance. It’s a time to share and to celebrate the world of bellydance. There are so many benefits to appreciate.”

What many people might not be aware of is the word “bellydancing” fosters a fair amount of misconceptions. So people may not appreciate what it actually is, as opposed to what Hollywood paints it to be. It’s more than a liberal rolling of the abdominal muscles — in fact that’s a miniscule portion of the dance. Even if a dancer manages to learn the “belly roll,” there is still the hip lift and hip drop (seemingly similar yet different) yet to master, as well as the various moves that work the back, chest, arms, legs — nearly every muscle.

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Moseley’s new troupe, Mystic Angels, represent Des Moines in a Midwest bellydancing circuit, along with Des Moines troupe Rainbows of the Desert, Indianola’s Jewels Beyond the Nile and Aura from Ottumwa. Women have many reasons for deciding to take up this unique form of art and sport. Many are just looking for a new, fun and sexy way to stay in shape or lose weight, Moseley said.

“With back, neck and hip injuries, I was limited in what I could do,” Moseley said. “It started as a way to lose weight (65 pounds), but it was so much more. The creativity of it is infectious. I have been doing this for about 13 years, and I’m still just as happy now as I was when I found it.”

And while dancers do work up a sweat, Moseley asserts that bellydancing is more art than sport. The fact that the upcoming gala is held in a theatre, not an arena, is one signifier.

Moseley said there are two main reasons for holding this Gala. The first is to give the audience a “true” showing of what bellydancing is really about, the many different styles of bellydance — Egyptian, Turkish, Folkloric, Lyrical, American Oriental, Wings of Isis and more. The second is to benefit the Des Moines Furry Friends Animal Refuge, a no kill animal shelter.

“We are a laid back atmosphere. We encourage the audience to cheer, clap, zaghareet — which they will be shown how to do — and hear music they wouldn’t normally hear anywhere else,” said Moseley. CV               

David Rowley is an Iowa native with a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Iowa and a master’s in film journalism from the University of Glasgow. Whether he’s wandering the foothills of Scotland or the concrete prairie of Des Moines, this cinefile/journalist/gumshoe is always prepared with a pen in his pocket feverishly searching for that “perfect level of ridiculous that makes the absurd desirable.”

What: The Midwest Gala of Bellydance with special guest, Rania.

When: Saturday, April 20 and 21 Price: Adults, $12.50; Children (12 and under), $8.50. There will be two workshops on Saturday and Sunday, including Ballet Warm Up Technique ($10) and Rhythms and Combos/Elements of Choreography ($65), or a one-on-one choreography critique workshop on Sunday only ($35).

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