A dance with tradition
Published: Friday, March 1, 2013
Updated: Friday, March 1, 2013 02:03
Moving gracefully through the crowd, Hafsa makes her way toward the stage. A scimitar balances delicately upon her head as her body moves elegantly with the beat of the music. All eyes fall on her in awe as she dances, silk-like motions coupled with control over her balance. After the performance, Hafsa replaces this persona, returning to her identity as Eve Ferguson, a freshman food science major at OSU.
On stage, Ferguson assumes the name of Hafsa, an Arabic name meaning cub lioness.
Ferguson is a member of the Corvallis Belly Dance Performance Guild, a non-profit organization that puts on free shows every Wednesday at the Old World Deli. Though only having taken up sword dancing four years ago, it has been a facet of Ferguson’s life for as long as she can remember.
“I’ve been belly dancing since I could walk,” Ferguson said. “My mom started doing it [when] she was pregnant with me.”
Ferguson’s mother taught her much of what she knows today.
“My mom’s a belly dancing teacher, so I took advanced classes with her,” Ferguson said. “But I’ve been learning from her my whole life.”
With a chuckle, Ferguson said YouTube videos are also helpful.
Learning to belly dance can be a long process. Ferguson notes one of the most difficult parts of belly dancing is isolating the different parts of the body.
“A lot of times we don’t think about it, but the movement that we’ll do with our arm, we’re actually moving everything else like our shoulder and our rib,” Ferguson said. “So just isolating your shoulder or your ribs is really hard to do without moving your arm or something else. And that is what belly dancing is: Isolating very specific parts of your body.”
Before coming to Corvallis, Ferguson performed frequently in her hometown of Kenai, Alaska. She has performed in Oregon, as well.
“I have a lot of good memories [of] when we lived in Oregon,” Ferguson said. “Every summer we’d go to the renaissance and country fairs a lot of core performances happened there. I’d go with my mom, and those were always fun. I wasn’t the main attraction, but I was like the tip girl, which was pretty cool.”
Ferguson’s family past drew her to the Guild. Her mother went to college at OSU. She describes her part in the guld as a family tradition.
“That’s probably the main reason I found out about the Guild,” Ferguson said. “I wanted to keep belly dancing and I thought that that’d be the best way to stay regular.”
The Guild was established in 1989 at the Old World Deli, where it continues to function. It is open for all who are interested, accommodating dancers and enthusiasts alike. The shows themselves are described to range from beginner to advanced levels, and contain a wide selection of music, styles and performers. Staying true to their roots, the shows have remained free since the Guild’s conception.
“To my knowledge, it is the longest free belly dance show in America,” said performance coordinator Tia Knight.
Like her sword dance routine, Ferguson finds an enjoyable balance between her dancing and studies at OSU.
“It’s kind of like a stress release,” Ferguson said. “Everything else I do is related to school … when I don’t have to think about school it’s very nice.”
Kyle Reed, news reporter