Shaking her hips to fame

KAYLYNN PALM

The talented Zoe Harker from Rocklands will never forget her trip to Germany. One of the reasons was that she was the youngest belly dancer to participate in the Orientalisches Tanzfestival Stuttgart recently.

Zoe was the guest performer at the event, doing the Egyptian belly dance fusion.

Describing the experience of travelling to Europe and Turkey, she said: “The trip was amazing, fun and I felt famous.”

She started dancing at a tender age of four and is eight years old now.

Zoe, who belongs to Aphrodite Belly Dance Studio in Strandfontein, has done exceptionally well over the past three years at the South African Championships.

The group competed in the Orientalisches competition as well.

Her mother, Natasha, said Zoe was dynamite on stage and had a great passion for belly dancing.

“She enjoys dancing thoroughly. She was too young to participate in the competition with Aphrodite, so we took the chance entering Zoe, as a performer with the group. We then heard she was chosen and that brought us great joy,” she said.

Zoe’s dance teacher, Stephanie Singh, said the youngster had done South Africa proud with her performance.

“Zoe was the youngest international dancer and was treated like a celebrity. In Istabul, she was stopped in the road by strangers for her photograph. She captured the hearts of many professional dancers and mesmerised the crowd with her professionalism.

“Zoe has the ability to own the stage with her huge stage presence and confidence,” said Ms Singh.

The youngster has participated in various competitions and festivals, among them the first Confederacion Interamericana de la Danza championship (CIAD) held in Cape Town last year. She took first place in various dancing categories.

This year, she appeared on television, performing with Aphrodite on the Expresso Breakfast Show.

Ms Singh said that when Zoe was younger, her talent had immediately been recognised and nurtured.

“Her parents contributed a lot financially by allowing her to attend (lessons in) different genres of dance.

“She attended private classes, bellygigs for children, youth day events, school fund-raisers and other community projects. She has a bright future ahead,” she said.

Asked why she enjoys dancing, Zoe said: “I love moving my body to the beat and music. It calms me and makes me happy. One day I would like to travel the world doing something I love, which is dancing.”