Fairytale done belly differently

Bellydancing at The Holiday Inn , Sheffield
Bellydancing at The Holiday Inn , Sheffield

AS well as the glitter and sparkle, there will be a special shimmy when Sleeping Beauty is staged in Sheffield city centre this month.

For the classic fairytale will be told by 70 local bellydancers.

Director Jenny Muhlwa believes the performance at the Montgomery Theatre in Surrey Street from December 20 to 22 will be a world first.

She has brought together women - and one man - from seven dance groups as “a perfect alternative to the traditional ballet or pantomime this Christmas”.

There is no singing, acting or narrating - the story will be played out in bellydance.

“We are challenging the ballet world,” said Jenny, of Fulwood, who founded her own group, Belrobics, to promote bellydance and fitness. “We are bringing bellydance into the mainstream, showing that it is an art form.

“I’m really excited. Last week everybody came together, in their costumes, and worked together and it started to flow.”

The women, aged 12 to 60, are teaming up from their respective dance groups - Belrobics, Aim To Dance, Boomshanka, Sia Sano, Sister Tribellica, Jaleh and Bella Shimmy.

Sleeping Beauty follows Fire in the Belly, which was performed by the dancers, in flame-coloured costumes, in Tudor Square as part of celebrations to welcome the Olympic Torch to Sheffield during the summer.

Jenny, who has been running classes for five years, and once lived in Turkey, said bellydancing had become more popular in Sheffield.

“I have found through my own company that performing to an audience is a powerful way of inspiring confidence and increasing self esteem. Many women in my classes have overcome personal tragedies and have cited bellydancing and particularly performing as a real help on their road to recovery.

“The challenges of complex moves, the beauty and glamour of the costumes and the absolute acceptance of every womanly shape and age cannot fail to inspire confidence and self belief. “

She hopes the latest production will demonstrate that bellydancing is a serious artform and will establish its reputation as “an ancient and beautiful type of Arabic dance. Our costumes will be dazzling and spectacular and the dance moves intricate and challenging, but this is entertainment for all the family.”

Sleeping Beauty is Eleanor Gaywood, of Belrobics, and the only male is the prince, Tom Roberts, of Aim To Dance.

It is very much a home grown and home financed production, although O2 gave £300 towards hiring the Montgomery Theatre.

So the stage is now set for Sleeping Beauty as never seen before.

Jenny says they are well prepared - “as long as it doesn’t snow!”

Tickets cost £10/ £8; Belrobics