For more than five years Danette Flores hid her habit.She was afraid to tell the people she went to church with. She couldn’t bring herself to tell her co-workers. She was a closet belly dancer.
“It began completely on a whim,” said Flores of Clarkston.
She saw an advertisement in the newspaper: A one day workshop at the University of Idaho with a Seattle belly dance instructor. At the time she was homeschooling her two daughters, aged 9 and 13. She thought it might be an interesting cultural experience for them.
“I don’t think I’d ever seen it done in real life,” said Flores, who works as an office manager at a heating and cooling company in the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley and was living in Deary at the time. “My daughters were terrified. We had no idea what we were doing.”
That was more than a decade ago. Flores and her daughters now dance and teach around the Northwest. This weekend she’ll sponsor the fourth annual Dancing in the Holidays, an introduction to the ancient dance form with daylong workshops and a 4 p.m. public performance at the Clarkston Heights Grange.
“Somewhere between that very first workshop and now we became addicted,” Flores explained. “It becomes an obsession at some point. It just becomes a part of what you are. It’s very satisfying.”
Belly dancers face some big misconceptions, Flores said. Many people think of them as half-naked cabaret performers or strippers.
“I’m not saying there aren’t some of those but 98 percent of belly dancers are so much different than the image we have,” Flores said.
Belly dancing is a workout that involves core body moves and muscle isolation.
“It’s fantastic for your health,” she said, listing benefits that include improved digestion, flexibility, and toning of the female organs. “You get a lot of kinks worked out of your body. You’re constantly supporting and stretching and limbering.”
Belly dancing is for people of all ages. Last year a grandmother attended the workshop with her 10-year-old granddaughter, she said. Men have also attended.
“One of the things I love about this is the generations can come together.”
There are more than two dozen types of belly dancing. Differences in dance and costume depend on the culture, be it Egyptian, Lebanese or Moroccan. A current trend is tribal fusion that blends styles into a personal art form, she said.
Saturday’s workshops will include costuming along with movement and terminology taught by several teachers. Flores advises people to come dressed in comfortable clothes, bring a notepad and to expect to sweat.
What: Fourth annual Dancing in the Holidays
When: Saturday, Dec. 5
8:45 a.m. to 3 p.m. workshops
4 p.m. Hafla performance
Where: Clarkston Heights Grange, 2220 Reservoir Road, Clarkston
Cost: $60 for the workshops, includes lunch and performance; $5 performance only
Of Note: Registration is available at the door or in advance by contacting Danette Flores at firstname.lastname@example.org or texting or leaving a message at (208) 596-3734.
Details can be found on the LC Valley Belly Dance Facebook page.