Belly dancing their way to the top

At back are Clinthe Jordan, from Strandfontein; Shireen Adams, from Delft; Vuyolwethu Dayimani, from Tafelsig; Emerentia Daniels, from Rondevlei Park; and Charlene Miggels, from Bayview. In front is founder and director of Aphrodite Belly Dance Studio, Stephanie Singh.

Aphrodite belly dancers are sure to imbibe you into the spirit and love for the dance at this year’s eighth Cape Town Carnival.

Dancers from the Aphrodite Belly Dance Studio, based in Strandfontein, have been hard at work since November, practising their moves to be displayed along the 1.2km parade route, Cape Town’s Fan Walk on March 17.

While the studio has been involved with the carnival since its inception in 2010, this is the first year 20 dancers from Strandfontein High School will be joining them.

Strandfontein High School principal Peter Brockman said it was a good boost for the school’s morale.

“I am very excited for this opportunity for the school to extend its extramural programme,” he said.

A total of 50 belly dancers, including pupils from the studio’s other classes in Strandfontein, Mitchell’s Plain, Belgravia and Goodwood, will be dressed in coral outfits to suit this year’s theme AMAZA! – Ocean Odyssey.

Stephanie Singh, founder and director of the studio, told the Plainsman they do their own make-up, costumes and choreography.

“We were the first belly dance studio to get involved and this year we will be the only belly dance crew,” she said.

This is one of the many adventures the studio has been involved in.

Last year, a contingent of theirs, including 13 adults and two youth – Zoe Harker, 8, and Amaarah Edwards, 9, – performed in Germany, toured Switzerland and attended workshops in Istanbul.

Zoe was the youngest South African belly dancer to perform internationally.

Ms Singh has 160 belly dancers registered, including Jade Bailey, 5, the youngest member and Naseeba Edwards, 82, from Bo-Kaap.

She trains a different group every day and at different times.

“Belly dancing teaches you confidence, public relations, respect for yourself and your body, you will want to educate yourself, better yourself and empower yourself to have a healthy mind and body,” she said.

“Belly dancing is not sexual. It is very intoxicating and it is beautiful,” said Ms Singh.

She started belly dancing about 19 years ago, in Muizenberg, and a year later she went to Istanbul.

“I was never a dancer. I was very bad at it. I found it very interesting. I attended class week after week but I would never do the moves,” she said. I later found it to be something very special and unique,” she said.

Five years ago the studio participated in the first South African belly dance championship, in Johannesburg, and they took top honours in all eight of the categories, including drum solo division, modern belly dance, solo and troupe performances.

Ms Singh travels every year, always stopping in Istanbul to check in with her Master Teacher Sema Yildiz.

This year the crew is planning a trip to Greece in September.

Shireen Adams, 20, from Delft, has been belly dancing with the crew for the past 10years.

“I love dancing. It is my passion,” she said.

Emerentia Daniels, 18, from Rondevlei Park, who has been dancing for the last three years, attends practise once a week at Ms Singh’s home at 38 Genoa Crescent in Sea Crest, Strandfontein, and helps out at the other classes every other

For more information about the studio, call Ms Singh at 072 317 6139 or 071 017 4216.