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Review of 2023 Spokane Bellyfest

by Nizana El Rassan This past April, I had the pleasure of teaching and performing at the annual Spokane Bellyfest in Spokane, Washington. Years back when I lived there, I was part of their planning committee, taught classes in Spokane and Moses Lake, was a house dancer at Kabob Restaurant in Spokane, and was featured twice as workshop instructor in the annual Powers of Bellydance Conference in Yakima. It was great being back in my old stomping grounds and hanging out with my regional dance friends!

The festival started out with a Friday night pre-show at Karma Indian Restaurant with four of us dancing to the live drumming of David Metz, and part of the Safar Band. Nefabit, Hanan, Celadon and I all had fun improvising live, visiting and eating dinner with a fun audience!

Photographer Denny Marit

Event hostess, Yalayna, and committee set up a great time starting with the Friday night event, followed by vending, a series of workshops and the evening hafla on Saturday. The vendors had all kinds of cool costume pieces, accessories, jewelry, crystals, and more, and there was also a raffle and a swap table. The well attended workshops had a wonderful variety of topics and instructors, almost all from the Spokane. Covered were fan veils, Fat Chance Belly Dance, Datura style, and elegant hands and arms. David Metz, from Seattle, and I, currently based 3,000 miles away, co-taught a workshop on Dancing to Live Music. Workshops and hafla were also available on Zoom!

The evening hafla showcased the workshop participants and others on a lovely stage area, announced by an exciting emcee, and memorized by a photographer. (Nice, big dressing room!!) I always love when shows and haflas share the event pictures and all the smiling faces. I’ve been to or heard of events, just to see them fade into oblivion with no one really sharing the many pictures that got taken. This event had great captures from beginning to end.

Troupes performed in unison, there were a couple of duets, lots of soloists, and David Metz provided drum solos for some of the dancers. The show was broken into two halves, with a brief intermission to stretch, and get those last-minute raffle tickets. I was asked to close out the show, and I started with a lively number using finger cymbals and then David played me a fun drum solo. Very cool working with him live after working online together all this time in the Night in the Global Village! Thanks to Yalayna and Spokane Bellyfest Committee for a wonderful time!

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