The past several months have been busy for Hamilton bellydancer Eshe. In April, she opened her own bellydance studio in downtown Hamilton, Mahasti – The Bellydance Emporium. And in May she turned her Harem bellydance show into a proper monthly event at Hamilton club The Casbah.
“Hamilton needed a monthly bellydance event,” says Eshe. “When I opened Mahasti, I reached out to The Casbah and they warmly embraced the idea for the show. We’ve been doing Harem on and off for years, but turning it into a monthly event creates a space to spotlight our talented bellyance community in Hamilton and to invite guest performers from all over Ontario to share their dance as well.”
Harem happens on the second Saturday of each month, and the next one takes place on December 10. Tickets for Harem are usually $15, but in honour of the holiday season, December’s show is a pay-what-you-can event and all proceeds from the door will be donated to the Infant Food Bank run by Hamilton’s Essential Aid and Family Services.
“I’m a mom myself and the idea of any family struggling, especially during winter, is deeply distressing to me,” Eshe says. “I want to be a part of helping others. A huge part of our mission at Mahasti is affordability and accessibility so doing a pay-what-you-can show makes sense. We want families to be able to enjoy art and culture without breaking the bank. We never want someone to feel they can’t afford to take part in dance.”
The December 10 Harem will showcase shimmies from an amazing array of local performers including Raqs Mahasti – which features Eshe and dancers from Mahasti – The Bellydance Emporium, Abigail, Angela Josephine, BellaDance, BellyFlow, Elysium Tribal, Faith, Tribe Maya Fire, and Wild Orchid Bellydance.
“We’ve invited all of the bellydance studio owners in Hamilton as well as some other fantastic dancers based in the city to perform,” shares Eshe. “This is the biggest lineup we’ve ever had, and the night is going to be a huge celebration of our professional community as well as a generally joyous farewell to the year.”
“Attendees can expect to see a wide variety of bellydance styles from very traditional to modern fusion performed by some of Hamilton’s finest bellydancers.” adds Jackie Pullar, the creative director of Wild Orchid Bellydance.
“The Casbah is such a lovely, intimate venue and the audience will have a chance to really see each performer shine,” says Elysium Tribal director Field. “The Harem shows are so enjoyable to be a part of because there is a great sense of community among the dancers regardless of their particular style of performance. The audience is always so enthusiastic – it’s a really satisfying experience!”
For folks considering attending The Casbah on December 10, the following words from Wild Orchid Bellydance’s Pullar should give you plenty reason to go to the event, experience the local bellydance scene for yourself, and support a very deserving organization – Hamilton’s Essential Aid and Family Services – all at the same time.
“The bellydance scene in Hamilton is second to none,” Pullar says. “You no longer need to travel outside of our great city for classes and shows; we’ve got some of the best instructors and performers in Southern Ontario right here.”
Harem volume 15 takes place on Saturday, December 10 at the Casbah (306 King Street West) and is an all-ages, pay-what-you-can event. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the show will run from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. All proceeds will be donated to Essential Aid and Family Services (http://www.essentialaid.ca/). For more information, check out the show’s Facebook event page.