Ottawa’s A Belly Dance Smorgasbord – Did you know?

Let me start by saying I feel like I spend a lot of time praising Ottawa’s Belly Dance community – to the point where I am wondering if it is starting to sound like a broken record!  So I am hoping that some of you will add your comments below~ so that it does not just seem like me saying how fabulous Ottawa is!!


Michele Roy's displays
Michele Roy


This past weekend, of which I believe I have now recovered, issued forth two great events in which our community could participate [ the Zombie walk notwithstanding!]

On Saturday evening, the Belly Dance Teacher’s Fundraiser gave many local teachers the chance to strut their stuff in support of three charities close to the heart of the organizer, Catharine Crerar, owner of Daisies and Dragons Daycare.  Money raised was donated to Kids Help Phone, Bereaved Families, and the Distress Centre.

While we all find ways to comment, constructively criticize, and whine a bit – we are human after all – I feel that every event has to have a benevolent dictator to make it happen. Committees can work, but often too much discussion amongst equal powers leads to inertia, so I would rather have one person lead the way, with a strong bevy of volunteers to help make it happen.  This is also how I run my events, so I am a bit biased!

Catharine began these fundraising events years ago at Hartwell’s, and when they were moved to the Glebe Community Centre, the ability to serve food/ a meal was added.  Some may not see it as a bonus for the evening, some do.  There are waves of energy that put out the thoughts and comments that the ticket price is too high for the community to support, but perhaps the question we should be asking is, why would we not be able to support a $25 ticket price?  If contrasted with other local Fundraising events I have seen advertised, $25 is nothing.  I have been invited to $60,$100 and more events, some with a full sit down meal, some with only cocktails and some entertainment.  Maybe we need to rethink our approach to these fundraising events from a bigger picture perspective.

And then, when I looked at how full the room was as the evening began, and there were plenty of folk willing to pay $25 to come enjoy an evening of beautiful dancers!  For all of the comments begin tossed around, our hearts are in the right place and we do know that the right thing to do is support each other’s endeavors as best we can!!

The show was great – with lots of fabulous donated prizes – which I did not win – wonderful dancers and great volunteers.  I could write an entire post just reviewing the show – maybe later once Lainie has posted pics! 

Another topic of interest for me as a participant, volunteer, and general busy body at the event was hearing the energies brought up by the presence of the modern dance troupe from Makin’ Moves.  

As I am primarily a belly dancer, and choosing on a path to enlighten those around me that belly dance is not derogatory, not shameful, not negative.  The cliches, the assumptions, the inuendos are still there that it is a “hoochy dance“.  Seeing it from someone else’s perspective though, are we suffering from an extreme case of denial?  We undulate, we wiggle our hips, we pop our chests, we let our arms snake about sinuously – are we not aware of how sensual and sexy it can be?  Maybe, just maybe, it is not wrong to be sexy.

 This is your new mantra: It is not wrong to be sexy.  Oh wait,  positive phrasing required: It is good to be sexy!

 This is the power we are creating when we dance – embracing that feminine energy which comes from our grace, our flow, our sensual energy.  So, if we can embrace this kind of thinking – and maybe you disagree – leave me a comment below, I want to hear from you! – but if we can go on the journey of allowing ourselves to be the sensual beings that we are, why do some of us look down on these other dancers? The Dollhouse Dance Company were covered completely – albeit some great thighs were shown, but the shorts covered lots, and the tops were full coverage, so, nothing wrong there…A lot more flesh is shown on television on a regular basis that we saw up close and personal during their routine.  

And they are strong dancers!  I challenge most of us who only belly dance to take on some of those moves for flexibility and balance!  I admire their strength, and their journey.  I took a moment to talk to them after their show, because I was so impressed by their routine.  They recognize that their style of dance may not go over well at a full-on, children in attendance, family event.  For them, Catharine’s fundraisers offer them the perfect venue to show their skills in what could be considered a sister field of dance.  As we chatted, they reminded me of the very things I spoke of above, the undulations, the hips moving – all very strong female power moves 🙂   Maybe we can think about the idea that, just because the costumes are different, the moves a bit stronger, we are still all sisters in dance.

Anything else I need to express?  Hmm, well, I do re-iterate that we are a strong and community minded group here in Ottawa.  We still express ourselves quietly in back rooms – perhaps the influence of it being a government town – we then come together, pull up our bootstraps and get down to helping each other.  So good for us!  Please feel that pat on the back!


UPDATE: Lainie’s Gallery is up!  Check it out!

On to Sunday…


Random shot of the Dancer's BAzaar
Random Dancer's Bazaar Pic




You people totally rock!


About a week and a half before the Dancer’s Bazaar, I realized that I only had three volunteers, based on the emails I had received at that point from those offering to help.  The other responses were from about 5 of my previous crew members who had other obligations and would not be able to attend!  


So, I hit my Facebook group up with a message to all of the Attendings and Maybe Attendings.  My plea for help was answered whole heartedly by 12 people!!! And many more wishing they could help!

These fabulous souls showed up at various times through the day and did so much to help out that “thanks” is SO inadequate!  I am hoping that the Brad cookie and drink helped express my heartfelt appreciation!

The day was beautiful, so I was very pleased to see that over 340 people had come in by 3 p.m., when we handed out the final door prizes and opened the stage to Zahra Haddad and her drummers.  After that, though, even more people came through, so I am sure we hit closer to 370ish before we closed off at 4 p.m.

The vendors put so much work into bringing their goodies, and setting up their displays! I am always impressed by how creative these entrepreneurs get!  Thanks to their participation, I am able to give this community a varied selection of products that hopefully everyone was able to find what they were looking for on Sunday.

And if you could not find it, you know you can contact me for some custom sewing work 🙂

So, immense thank you to everyone who came out, sent good wishes if they could not attend, and especially those who shopped!

Reminder to check my Dancer’s Newsletter to find out about more of these amazing belly dance related events!  Workshops, Shows, mini bazaars, you never know what is happening next unless you check it out online, or subscribe!

Next event for me:

Halyma’s Ottawa Centre Class Party: December 17th, 2008

0 thoughts on “Ottawa’s A Belly Dance Smorgasbord – Did you know?

  1. So, up first, me. Of course. Whenever Tracey asked for feedback she can always count on me to voice my opinion.

    I was absolutely blown away by this past weekend… and knocked on my butt too. I have finally recovered, I think. Loved every minute!

    Dollhouse Dance Company: I have seen these ladies dance a few times over the last few years and am always impressed by their athleticism and skill… and courage. Their’s is a dance style that I embraced many years ago when I was much younger, thinner and my body did not hurt so much. If I had those thighs, heck, I’d be showing them off. Tracey makes a couple of costuming points… here’s another: I have seen many classical Belly Dance costumes that hug the body like a second skin, have a slit up to or above the thigh, sometimes on both sides, slung dangerously low on the hips and a scant bra. So, the Dollhouse ladies were no less clad than some, no many, Belly Dancers.

    For me, Belly Dance has always been a way of keeping my body strong and healthy and sexy. Yes, sexy. I know I’m not the pretty young chick I once was, and I’m OK with that but underneath she is still there and this Dance helps me to stay in touch with her. When Dollhouse was done my first comment was “that takes gutts” which it does. It takes inner strength, self-confidence and hours of weekly practice to perform in public… any performance. Yeah! to the Dollhouse Dancers. It may not be Belly Dance but many of the moves are the same. You put a Belly Dancer on stage with Prince playing and her body will pick up the same rhythms, pops and locks.

    Ottawa’s Belly Dance Community: Tracey can sometimes be too modest. She, along with a hand full of Belly Dancers who became event planners in the 70s, 80s and 90s, built a community of supportive, talented and caring dancers. The family of teachers and professionals has grown so much over the 9 years since I first made contact that it is getting hard to keep track of it all, so what did Tracey do? She created a Newsletter, on her website, to promote other dancers, costumers, teachers and troupes! All on her time at her expense, she does not ask anyone for money. So, we all try our best to pitch in and help when she needs us.

    It is not always possible, due to scheduling conflicts, family, vacation or illness, but I have witnessed the entire community pitching together to make each event a success no matter who hosts it.

    I agree with Tracey. An event needs a leader, one person at the helm, steering the ship. Even committees have a Chairperson who directs them. My own style is to be in the drivers seat but I am happy to step aside and let someone lead when I know that is the best way to get the job done. You have to let the leader lead, even if they fall flat. Be there to help them back to their feet because that is what the support group does. Here are a couple of old cliches that are so true: What does around, comes around. AND You get back what you give.

    I have heard many people from other cities comment on the Ottawa Belly Dance community (and the arts community generally) in very positive terms. Many dancers here have commented that they know that they would hit a brick wall of competitive negativity in any other city. Dancers from other cities are always blown away by the supportive nature of our little community. I think we have a lot to be proud of and, yes, Tracey, you do say it a lot, but it should be said over and over lest we become complacent and forget how very, very lucky we are.

    I’ve heard those “back room whispers” but I’ve also heard them getting knocked back by some folks who wish to keep the negativity at bay. So the next time you hear someone make a negative comment about another dancer, stand up for that person in her absence. Remember, you could be next on a ‘negativity’ hit list and you would want someone to stand up for you.

    Rant over! :-}
    Love you all much. Thank you Tracey.

  2. I just ran across this post on the google alerts, good job first of all for making it to this list. I don’t know anyone discussed, am glad that there is a strong community, and can only imagine some of the things that were discussed. Forgive me for reading between the lines on this private community posting.

    First of all, having a strong, tight dance community is a privilege that must be earned over and over again. I have several subscribers who live in the orient and they are solo dancers struggling against things that we now take for granted. Their fervent wish is to have a community, or at least not be the lone ranger. So, consider your dance community a blessing, warts, whispers and all.

    Sometimes the price of leadership is that you are on the top taking the blows. You can not please all the people all the time, so don’t worry about that anymore. Any time you take more than 2 people and try to organize an event there will be dissension. That is the cost of being human. Hurray for those who take on the mantle of leadership.

    Here is my personal belief about belly dancing. It is one of the only ways that a woman can take personal power, internalize it and share it if she chooses. Personal power… you take control of developing your muscles, your mind, your heart and your personal style of communication. This communication means how you choose to portray what is in your heart, mind and body. If you are strong, what is wrong with showing that off? Nothing. If you have the self confidence to share what is in your heart and mind, what is wrong with it. Nothing. If it is communicating a thought or an idea, there is nothing wrong with it.

    The only issue is then whether it is entertaining. People pay to go to an event to be entertained. So, as a performer, I think the only criteria is to be sure you do just that. Otherwise, costuming, displays of athleticism and personal power are all within allowable parameters.

    Everything evolves, we are not the watch keeper maidens of the goddess rituals of fertility anymore. We are modern day women trying to live how we choose in this modern world. And this world dictates how we choose to do so. So be it and thanks for letting me participate in your discussion. Mercedes

  3. Wow – thanks so much to both of you strong women for taking the time to post such well written and intelligent replies!
    Let’s get some more fun in on this discussion!

  4. I have read these comments with great interest. I belong to a very active belly dance community (which is fabulous) & we are also experiencing similar differences of opinion. We are a very active & long running belly dance community, & recently one of our long standing teachers has begun to teach burlesque classes as well as her usual belly dance classes. The burlesque classes are very popular, and sound like a lot of fun. I don’t take them but I know they are very popular. However, some of the other teachers/dancers are “up in arms” about it, thinking that burlesque should be as far removed from belly dance as possible. I agree that the two dance forms should be kept separate, and not confused with each other. However I also think that those teachers/dancers who think that belly dance is not a “sexual” dance are kidding themselves. Almost all forms of belly dance are sensual or sexual in nature. Look at the modern day caberet costumes and tell me that tassles on the bra, and tassles around the hips are not of a sexual nature! Plus often the rest of the body is quite nude!!! Almost all belly dance movements are very sensual in nature, which is why we love it in the first place! I think people need to get over their puritanical attitudes and calll a duck a duck. If it walks, eats & quacks like a duck then it’s a duck. And I also think that we should stop trying to be the belly dance “police” and let people express themselves freely & creatively.

  5. Absolutely! The belly dance police – cute, Hulya! Hee hee. I agree – we are evolving and creating, we don’t really need to be so worried about “the original dance form” unless we’re historians.

    It’s good to explain to the audience if our take is modern or traditional, which part(s) of the world it came from OR is inspired from, but other than that, and I don’t even do that as a hard-and-fast rule, let’s just create and have fun together!

    And yes, SEXY IS GOOD! We don’t need to not act like women – our hips wiggle even when we walk normally, we jiggle just because we are women. That’s what women’s bodies do naturally. In England, they call sexual parts “wobbly bits” – they’re supposed to jiggle, and I reserve the right to jiggle them on purpose if I damn well feel like it! After all, they are mine.

    Much love!