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Belly up to the Egg with Dance the World series

The Dance the World series at the Egg in Albany has featured flamenco dancers and Celtic tap dancers. Troupes have come from Canada, Spain and the Netherlands to perform as part of the Egg's mission to showcase dance forms from around the globe.

But one style of dance that has never taken center stage at the Egg is belly dancing.

Peter Lesser, the Egg's executive director, said he's wanted to include belly dancing in the lineup; he knows it's popular locally, with at least 10 Capital District dance schools offering belly dancing classes.

The problem was finding a touring belly dancing group.

Enter the Bellydance Superstars. The group launched at the Lollapolooza music festival in 2003 as something of a lark, according to Lesser. But it proved so popular that the Bellydance Superstars are now touted as the only full-time, professional touring belly dancing troupe in the world.

They are THE belly dancing group, Lesser said.

Area residents will have a chance to check out the Bellydance Superstars themselves when the group comes to the Egg on Saturday, Nov. 22. Tickets for the 8 p.m. show are $24 for adults, $20 for seniors and $12 for children.

"Everyone should be exposed to belly dancing at least once in their life, and this would be the show to see," said Beatriz Arencibia, who dances under the name Bozenka. "It's an experience filled with color, expression and creativity."

It's also one with a long history. Belly dancing is thought to have originated in the Middle East hundreds of years ago, a mix of both strong and fluid movements. The Bellydance Superstars wear elaborate costumes, hairpieces and jewelry that harkens back to ancient times.

They see their craft as more than just a hobby or interest; it's a way of life.

Arencibia, for example, has been belly dancing for a decade. She has her own "belly dance academy" in Miami Beach and says she belly dances "24/7." It's the form of dance she's most comfortable with and one that she feels "defines" her.

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