HARKER HEIGHTS — Sequins glinted and belled skirts rang as a dozen women spun in captivating belly-dancing circles Sunday at the Harker Heights Activities Center.

“It’s kind of like you’re learning a recipe; you’ve got the basic ingredients, but you can change things up,” said Chris Bailey, explaining to the class how belly dancing for a crowd is a delicate balance of choreography and creativity.

Bailey, an Austin performer who dances under the name Najla, instructed new and old Central Texas Belly Dance Association members at a workshop intended to provide enough “go to” moves so dancers could interact with crowds while performing.

Vicky Mitchell, the president of the Central Texas Belly Dance Association and longtime belly dancer who performs under the stage name Khaliqua, said while experienced dancers make the art look easy, crowd interaction, posture and basic techniques pile up, creating a need for practice.

The yoga-like dance, similar in its aspects of balance, flexibility and movement control, has a lot of creativity and expression in its performance nature, however, making it an empowering venture, she said.

“We want the audience to know how much joy we feel in the dance, and how much of a joy it is for us to be dancing for them,” Mitchell said. “It’s not a sexual dance. It’s sensual, from the heart, and feels very earthy.”

While some members seriously studied the moves and counted steps, others jingled their skirts, smiling with their fellow students.

“It’s a great low-impact exercise,” said Nancy Sosa, who has been performing and dancing for two years. “I’m Hispanic, so it’s very different compared to other dancing, very isolated and more controlled (in your torso).”

Beginning belly-dance classes are from 6 to 7 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays at Central Texas College in Killeen. It costs $35 a class.

Contact Courtney Griffin at cgriffin@kdhnews.com or 254-501-7559

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