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Belly dancing hits National Theater stage next weekend

Date Posted: 2011-10-21

Just about everyone calls it belly dancing, but the raqs sharki, or ‘dance of the near east’ is an art form that’s evolved through the ages, and has now found its way to Okinawa.

The belly dances, ancient and scintillating dances most often performed by women, but technically not off limits to men, originated in the Middle East, are much more than mere dances involving the belly; they in fact utilize just about all the body, particularly the hips. The oriental dance has long been popular among women of all ages as a way to relieve stress, maintain youthfulness and femininity, and learn graceful movements.

Shaw Anze, who studied the graceful art form in Egypt, has now brought belly dancing to Okinawa, and put it on public view October 29th at the National Okinawa Theater in Urasoe City. The spectacular belly dance recital starts at 6:30 p.m., with theater doors opening at 6 p.m. Tickets are ¥1,500 in advance or ¥2,000 at the door.

The lithe Anze first got into dance as a youngster in Okinawa, first learning traditional Ryukyu dance, and then moved on to study techno and reggae dance, then ventured overseas to give the hula dance a try in Hawaii, and on to California for some hip-hop training. Further adventures carried her to latin dance in Mexico, with a touch of karate tossed in before she headed to Egypt. Once in Egypt, she learned Arabic and discovered the art of raqs sharki, the belly dance. It became a passion which she perfected before returning to Okinawa to open her own belly dance school.

Isis Oriental Dance Academy is Anze’s pride and joy today, the place where she says “ladies of all ages are welcome to come and learn.” Tickets for the October 29th recital are available at her school at 2-190 Miyagi in Chatan Town. They’re also available by email at anze@bellydanceokinawa.com or at www.bellydanceokinawa.com.

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