100 belly dancers descend on city for national festival

Festival of belly dance: Dunedin belly dance practitioners Anna Walsh (kneeling) and Bronwyn Mohring, of Kazbah Studio, will co-ordinate the Middle Eastern Dance Association of New Zealand national festival of belly dance and drumming, to be hosted in Dunedin this month. Photo by Brenda Harwood
Festival of belly dance: Dunedin belly dance practitioners Anna Walsh (kneeling) and Bronwyn Mohring, of Kazbah Studio, will co-ordinate the Middle Eastern Dance Association of New Zealand national festival of belly dance and drumming, to be hosted in Dunedin this month. Photo by Brenda Harwood
About 100 belly dance and drumming practitioners from throughout New Zealand and Australia will descend on the city from April 13 to 16 for the annual national event, being held in Dunedin for the first time.

The Medanz festival is being hosted by Dunedin's Kazbah Studio, in Victoria Rd, with workshops and sessions also being held at Tainui School.

"Modern belly dance is really quite diverse and there will be a chance for people to experience a range of genres during the festival," event co-organiser and belly dance practitioner Anna Walsh said.

Belly dance was continually evolving, and now ranged from the traditional Egyptian oriental style through to tribal and fusion styles, she said.

"Fusion style belly dancing can be performed to virtually any kind of music, from Indian through to Celtic music," event co-organiser Bronwyn Mohring said.

Belly dancing has grown in popularity in the past 10 years, particularly the tribal style - which can be described as a dance version of "Simon says".

"Tribal belly dance is very dynamic and relies on a rapport between troupe members - it is a lot of fun to get up with a big group of people and dance," Mohring said.

Dunedin has several belly dancing groups and classes are popular among women of all ages.

"It is a very joyful dance form, full of self-expression, and which is very accepting of women's bodies."

The belly dance festival will culminate in a colourful show, entitled Raks Samimi, to be held at the Mayfair Theatre in South Dunedin on Saturday, April 14, at 7pm. The show, which is open to the public, will feature live drumming and a range of belly dance styles presented by performers from Dunedin and throughout New Zealand, alongside some of the festival's international guests.

There will also be a Hafla belly dance party on April 15 at 6.30pm in the Tainui School hall, which will also be open to the public.

For more information about the Medanz national festival programme, and for reg-istration information, visit the website www.medanz.org.nz or http://martiandance.webs.com.