Fusion belly dancing performance comes to Eau Claire

Area belly dancers performed at Acoustic Cafe


Photo by Matthew Rothschild/The Spectator

Swords, candles and belly dancing troupes filled Acoustic Cafe last Friday as a part of the Circle of Friends Belly Dance evening.

“We take a lot of different styles of belly dance, in addition to classical,” Laura Gaber, the founder of ECShimmy, which performed on Friday, said. “We do a lot of incorporation of ballet and jazz.  We try to branch out and do a lot of things.”

Along with the different styles ECShimmy has incorporated they also try to dance with props.

“We dance with swords,” Gaber said.  “Sticks, baskets, candles and things like that.”

Gaber  founded ECShimmy in 2005 after 25 years of ballet instructing, she said.

“I wanted to get into something more with adult women and something everybody can do and just have fun,” Gaber said.

The other two groups that performed Friday,  Peanut Butter and Gypsy and Samsara, are friends with the members of ECShimmy.  Gaber said she used to take classes with Lucretia Mattson, a former professor  at UW-Eau Claire and member of Peanut Butter and Gypsy.

“Belly dancing originally started out that women dance for women,” Gaber said. “It was trying to develop and help the muscles for childbirth.”

Now belly dancing is much more mainstream, Mattson said, because of the movie industry.

“Gradually, in Hollywood in the ‘40s found out about it. It started to get a little more attention, a little more glamorization,” Mattson said.

She said there have been several different types of belly dancing since then, including a tribal style and a gothic style but she said it is basically a way to honor the fluid movements of the human body.

Eddieberto Sanchez, a dancer for Peanut Butter and Gypsy who goes by the stage name of Kal El, said there are many different dancing styles

 “Our background is based on American tribal style, mixed in with other different styles,” Sanchez said.  “The big one which is American tribal style which is unique to the United States and it borrows from different style from around the world.”

Despite being a female dominated performing art Sanchez said his performances are pretty much the same as the other members.

Mattson said another benefit of bellydancing is the exercise.

“It is excellent exercise, one of the gals that was originally with our troupe lost 60 pounds from belly dancing.  It maintains the muscles and it is a lot of fun,” said Mattson. “When you go to some of the workshops around you meet some of the neatest people and it’s a group of people I would not otherwise meet.”