Tonight: The Bellydancer Superstars hope to inspire at the Kelly-Strayhorn
The Bellydancer Superstars hold sway tonight at the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater in East Liberty for a show that promises to be both mesmerizing and memorable.
Not only will you see five professional bellydancers who tour the world but you will see nine local bellydancers, assembled by Olivia Kissel of Greenfield.
"There is a healthy bellydancing community here in Pittsburgh," said Ms. Kissel who was one of the founders of the South Side-based Zafira Dance Company, which concluded last year.
The Bellydancer Superstars are Sabah, Moria, Sabrina Fox, Stefanya and Victoria, who are a third of the way through a 35-city tour across America and Canada. They are part of the Los Angeles-based Club Bellydance.
"This is our five-dancer show, where we go to smaller venues and interact with the community," said company manager Stevo Glendinning. "The local dancers actually open up the first act with a 45-minute performance. Then the Club Bellydance troupe, the professional dance troupe, does a 45-minute show.
"That's the uniqueness of the show. With most shows that come through town, there's no interaction with anybody except the people on the stage. But we actually look to the local community to help us put the show together. So every night it's a different show, whether you're in Pittsburgh or Cleveland or Detroit."
So what do you see when you watch bellydancers?
"Unfortunately, which is a bit of a drag, when you say bellydancing, most people think of what they see in a restaurant," Mr. Glendinning said. "This is sort of like Riverdance but with bellydancing.
"Of course I'm biased, but it will be professional dancers, beautiful costumes, great staging, duets, group pieces, great drum solos. It's a real short snapshot of bellydancing. This is not what you might see in a restaurant. This is a total production and dance show, and the dancers are obviously incredible."
And it's not erotic. Mr. Glendinning stressed that this is "a family show," though most of the audience members tend to be women.
"In the bellydance community, it's a lifestyle," he said. "For example, with Riverdance, you go to see that once and that's it. But with bellydancing, women see this dance and some are inspired to take lessons. And some really get into it and it almost takes over their lives. It's a good-health thing to do, like low-impact aerobics, and it's very popular. Wherever we go, there's bellydancers. Tokyo, Florence, Italy, Berlin, or the U.K. It's amazing. It's bizarre actually."
The dancers perform to computerized music, and the evening is carefully choreographed. And yet, because it is a free-form expression, there's still some improvisation.
Mr. Glendinning said Club Bellydance takes great care in selecting the groups that make up the opening acts in each city.
"We want to put on a good show," he said. "We don't want you to think, 'This is rubbish' We do a lot of research to get the right sponsor in each town. And for the local dancers, it's a real honor and thrill to dance with our dancers."
The dancing starts at 7:30 p.m. at the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater, 5941 Penn Ave. Tickets are $20.
First Published February 5, 2013 3:39 pm