The annual Belly Blast brings belly dancers from the Eau Claire community together

Lasa Anahata Tribal hosted the annual Belly Blast, inviting many other groups to join

More stories from Casey Ryan

The Olympic games debate
December 13, 2017

Photo by Kar Wei Cheng

Belly dancing brings multiple troupes together with dances at the annual Belly Blast.

A variety of belly dancer troupes came out to Acoustic Cafe for the annual Spirit Heart-Belly Blast event last weekend.

Lasa Anahata Tribal hosted their annual Belly Blast at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 11. They invited belly dancing troupes to come perform with them.

Lasa Anahata Tribal is an American Tribal Style (ATS) belly dance troupe directed by Dana Dachel. Along with Krista Spaeth, Dachel is an assistant teacher for the troupe. They both have two and a half years of ATS dance instruction experience.

ATS belly dancing is a spiritual dance style. Tribal style belly dancing is all improvised and is not choreographed, Dachel said.

The night began with a gratitude dance, meant to “center” the group before they perform their dances.

The show was split into three sets, all starting with an “all in” for all of the belly dancers to gather in a circle to center themselves before their dances.

Lucretia Madson is currently the only dancer in Peanut Butter and Gypsy, a local belly dancing troupe. She said belly dancing is an activity for all ages.

“My husband told me my goal should be by the time I’m 90 I should still be belly dancing. I’m turning 70 this week,” Madson said.

She said her fellow dancers have moved away and she is looking to add more women to her troupe.

Peanut Butter and Gypsy dancers use props in their dancing such as swords, veils and colorful costuming.

Dachel, a member of Lasa Anahata Tribal, said she became involved with belly dancing by chance.

“By casual invite of a friend, I had no idea what opportunity lay ahead of me when I entered my first ATS level one class,” Dachel said. “This was the perfect time in my life to embrace this dance and all it has to offer.”

Dachel was the host for the night at Spirit-Heart’s annual Belly Blast. She said belly dancing is empowering and is about women coming together.

“At first, I hoped for stress relief, but then I realized I am gaining so much more: Sisterhood, exercise, food for my soul and international connections I never anticipated in my life,” Dachel said.

Belly dancing has been a refuge for many women, said Spaeth, who also leads Lasa Anahata Tribal with Dachel.

“I struggled with anorexia for the majority of my adult life,” Spaeth said. “At 85 pounds, I felt that I was too chubby to wear a swimsuit.”

She said belly dancing gives women confidence and a support system with other women in the troupe.

“Now, at more than twice that weight, I bare my belly and dance with pride, passion and pure joy in front of crowds,” Spaeth said.

Acoustic Cafe was packed full for the event. Michelle Bolwerk and Leah Fargo, Eau Claire community members, were among some of the audience members at the event.

“I have never been to an event like this,” Fargo said. “It’s different than I expected — I think it’s more welcoming than I expected it to be.”

Bolwerk, who just started taking belly dancing classes, agreed.

“I’m actually taking a class at Dragonfly, it’s an introductory class and I really enjoy it so far,” Bolwerk said.

Lasa Anahata Tribal offers belly dancing classes in its studio. They offer beginning-level sessions for eight weeks. More information can be found on Lasa Anahata Tribal’s webpage.