For Talia Soleil, belly dancing is a social dance as well as an art.
“With belly dance it’s not just technique that gets a person to being a great performer. It’s attitude,” Soleil said. “With belly dance, it celebrates the diversity of shape, size, height, weight, age. You don’t have a specific look to be accepted in this game.”
Six belly dancers will show off their expertise in the Raqs Tiki Belly Dance Competition and Showcase at the Church of the Pacific from 5 to 9 tonight. The competition will run until 6:30 p.m., while the award showcase goes from 7 to 9 p.m.
Dancers will compete in two categories: Queen of the Island, which features dances with six or more years of belly dancing experience; and Princess of the Island, a category for dancers who have studied the dance five years or fewer.
“It’s an important opportunity for a dancer to grow,” Soleil said. “You get your most growth when you’re doing something that pushes beyond your normal limit. It’s not whether you won or not, it’s the feedback you’re going to get from the judges.”
Six participants will compete tonight: three in the princess category and three in the queen category. Each participant has about five minutes to perform her dance. Twenty points will be docked for performances past the five-minute mark.
Soleil said all but one dancer are from the islands.
Dancers will be judged on technique and ability, musical interpretation, stage presence and overall appeal. Participants may get up to 40 points.
The winner of each category will be awarded a crown, trophy and free entry into Raqs Tiki Workshops next year.
Also, Friday’s Queen of the Island winner will have the opportunity to teach a workshop at Raqs Tiki next year.
Patrons will also have a chance to vote for their favorite competitors. The winner wins the People’s Choice Award Trophy.
Tickets for today’s competition and showcase are $25 at the door, $10 for keiki under 12, and free for keiki under five.
Soleil said you may bring non-perishable items like canned goods in exchange for a raffle ticket. Those donations will go to the North Shore Food Pantry.
When the dancing wraps up, Soleil and belly dance instructors Crystal Ravenwolf and Princess Farhana will host a series of workshops starting Saturday morning.
The classes are great for people involve in a variety of styles: whether they include American tribal belly dance, tribal fusion belly dance or classical Egyptian style.
The first day of workshops starts at 9 a.m. and ends around 3:30 p.m. All levels and styles are encourage to attend. There are fees for the classes.
“When I teach, it’s about sharing this beautiful gift; I want people to feel the joy I feel,” Soleil said. “Learning a dance language can take time, but I do think dance is a universal language. I feel there’s a story being told through the dance.”
Dancers are encouraged to bring water, note pad and a pen to the workshop.