Just the name of the dance conjures fantastical images. Abdomens in serpentine motion. Exotic instruments. Women with veils wriggling sequined hips to the delight of spectators at outdoor festivals or inside cozy, dimly lit dining rooms.
Belly dancing is one of the most recognizable dance forms, and perhaps one of the most elusive. And on Friday, Aug. 21, the art form will be on display at the Raqs Tiki Showcase at Princeville’s Church of the Pacific. The 7 p.m. show will feature renowned dance teachers Ranya Renee and Rose Harden as well as part-time Princeville resident Talia Soleil, who’s organizing the show.
“This is my first event I’m producing on the island,” said Soleil, owner of Red Door Dance Studio in Brentwood, California. “I’m planning on making my big move here within the next couple years, so I’m trying to bring my interest and my love for belly dancing to the island. I want to share my love for the island with our dancers, too.”
In addition to belly dancing, Soleil has studied jazz, ballet, hip hop, hula, African and modern dance. She is a multi-award winning belly dancer, choreographer and fitness champion.
The Raqs Tiki Showcase — Raqs is the word for dance in Arabic and Tiki is a nod to island culture — is part of a two-day belly dancing workshop that will bring together dance students of all abilities, experience levels for technique and training seminars. Many of the students who’ve signed up hail from Kauai, California and New York, Soleil said.
The showcase will feature dances by the workshop students as well as the talent flying in to teach them. Several different styles of belly dance will be on display at the showcase including tribal fusion and Egyptian.
“It’s a social dance in the Middle East,” she said. “People are doing it at parties and people are doing it in the street. Men belly dance. When I was in Egypt the little kids would be belly dancing on the table tops when they were 3 years old.”
Soleil, who has studied belly dancing in Egypt, Turkey and Greece as well as the Mainland, said the beauty of the dance is that it’s social in nature and that women of all shapes, sizes and experience levels can enjoy and excel in stage productions.
“I’m drawn to belly dancing because it encompasses every woman,” Soleil said. “I think a lot of women stop dancing at a certain time in their life because they can’t go professional. But if you go to a festival you might see brand new belly dancers on the stage. You don’t have to be in any particular shape and you don’t have to be any particular size.”
The dance’s inclusiveness she said, is what makes it so empowering.
“I love the femininity of it and that we’re allowed to be flirty and strong and sassy and sexy and whatever we decide to be,” she said. “It does bring out the strength of a woman.”
Pre-sale tickets to the Raqs Tiki Showcase are $15 online before the event at raqstiki.com and $20 at the door.