Release Date: January 25,2016
Belly dancers close out competition in Hampton
Dancers with Hill and Veil lift their sheers as they take the stage in the East Coast Belly Dance Classic's Troupe competition on Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016, in Hampton, Va. Hill and Veil are a college belly dancing group from Virginia Tech.
- By Katherine Hafner
The shimmer of sequins and vivid color flashed across a ballroom stage Sunday afternoon, garnering cheers from an audience of a few dozen.
Belly dancers from across the East Coast, many of whom are from Hampton Roads, gathered at the Crowne Plaza Hampton Marina Hotel to end the three-day East Coast Classic competition with the “Rising Star” and “Troupes” categories.
Because of the tight-knit nature of the belly dancing community, the competition was as much about coming together as vying for any title, said Nadira Grubbs, producer of the event and owner of Hampton’s Seven Cities Dance Studio. She said the event, while not the largest such competition, is special because of feedback given by the judges during the performances.
“It’s about personal coaching,” Grubbs said. “This is about the artistry and where you are, and us assisting you to where you want to go.”
The winner of Friday’s “Professional Tribal” category will travel to Germany to represent the East Coast in a belly dancing event. Dana Beaufait, the second-place winner in that category who also works as Grubbs’ assistant, said the dance form is something people can connect to around the world.
“I just came back from Japan, and there were belly dancers. … I love the community,” Beaufait said. “It’s therapeutic.”
Old Dominion University dance troupe Ya Gamila – made up of seniors Ty Jordan, Karen Lee and Tai-Lynn Taylor – won second place and the audience choice award in Sunday’s troupe competition.
Jordan said she has been belly dancing since she was 13, and she drew Lee, her longtime friend, into the activity .
“I love the energy and the expression. … It helps me connect to my spirituality,” Jordan said. “It’s a form of meditation. It helps me clear my mind.”
Lee said the pair used to dance together “when we were tiny little teenyboppers in our rooms, just jamming, making up little routines.” When they got to ODU, they decided to start a group and find others with similar interests, which is how Taylor became involved.
Holly McConnell of Arlington, who goes by the stage name S’Fie, was a “Rising Star” competitor on Sunday and attended the competition last year. She said she likes the event because the judges are friendly , in addition to the feedback. She reiterated many dancers’ sentiment of feeling at peace while performing.
“The thing I like about belly dancing is it’s the only time my mind is quiet. There’s no chatter,” she said. “You have this opportunity to display emotion that you may not be comfortable (doing) otherwise.”
Katherine Hafner, 757-446-2705, firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @khafner15 on Twitter.