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Dover Post
  • Dover Downs to score international belly dancing festival

  • The second Jewels of the Orient Bellydance & Wellness Festival will set up shop at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino from Friday through Sunday, having outgrown the Everett Theatre in Middletown after its inaugural event last year.
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  • The second Jewels of the Orient Bellydance & Wellness Festival will set up shop at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino from Friday through Sunday, having outgrown the Everett Theatre in Middletown after its inaugural event last year.
    Jewels of the Orient is a three-day affair celebrating all things belly-dancing. Festivities will include performances by international belly dance superstars, a dance competition and a variety of workshops and seminars including beginner courses on how to dance, as well as a discussion by a neurologist who’ll highlight the benefits of belly dancing on Saturday (the time for this seminar hasn’t been finalized). Vendors also will be present at the festival, selling items such as handmade belly-dancing costumes, accessories and other belly dance-related wares. Herbal products also will be available.
    With a turnout estimated at 1,500 people from the first Jewels of the Orient festival in Middletown, this year’s festival is expected to draw at least 2,500 people to Dover Downs, said event co-organizer and dancer Valerie “Neffertiti” Popple of Dagsboro.
    Neffertiti ─ which is the name of an ancient Queen of Egypt ─ explained the event will mostly attract people from the Mid-Atlantic region, while also drawing folks from throughout the country and abroad.
    “People attending are coming from as far west as California and as far south as Puerto Rico and Mexico, and as far north as Quebec,” she said. “Our little national festival is turning into an international festival.”
    A major highlight of the festival is a dinner performance by superstar belly dancer Ashmahan of Egypt, who’ll headline on Friday, followed by fellow superstar belly dancer Yasmina Ramzy of Canada, who’ll headline a dinner show on Saturday. Both dancers also will host dance workshops on all three days of the festival. Neffertiti, who’ll host a seminar on Friday about her experience living in Egypt, says Ramzy is a “phenomenal choreographer,” while adding that it’s a big deal to have Ashmahan come to the festival all the way from Egypt, which is considered the homeland of belly dance.
    “It’s an honor for us to have her come,” she said. “I knew her when I lived in Egypt. She’s a friend of mine, as well as an amazing instructor and performer. She’ll bring a lot knowledge to the men and women who’ll come to her workshops.”
    The belly dance competition on June 13 will be another highlight of the festival.
    Jewels of the Orient co-coordinator and dancer Rebecca “Lorelei” Sullivan says fans of dance owe it to themselves to check out a belly dancing performance, because there’s an aura surrounding it that’s unlike other styles of movement. Plus, audience participation is highly encouraged in belly dancing, which adds to the excitement of it.
    Page 2 of 2 - “There’s an energy that’s in the room that I don’t see in other dance recitals,” said the Newark resident, who’ll host a workshop on Saturday that teaches dancers how properly mix and edit music for their belly dancing performances. “It’s more of an audience participation type of dance. The audience is perfectly expected to clap along with the beat of the music.”
    IF YOU GO
    WHAT The Jewels of the Orient Bellydance & Wellness Festival
    WHEN Friday – 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.; Saturday – 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.,; Sunday – 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
    WHERE Dover Downs Hotel & Casino, 1131 N. Dupont Highway, Dover
    COST $15-$310; See INFO for a breakdown of the event’s pricing
    INFO Visit jewelsoftheorient.com or call Nefertiti at 344-0373 or Lorlei at 464-0392

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