Hips Don’t Lie

Event organizer Janim. Photo courtesy of Janim

By Steve Sucato

It’s no ordinary dance competition. The Belly-Off 2012, at the Pittsburgh Dance Center, pits belly-dancers against one another in an impromptu skills improvisation to live music by Pittsburgh vintage belly-dance bandIshtar. As organized by local belly-dance queen Janim (pictured) and last year’s winner, Mehira, the second annual competition and show also features demonstrations in belly-dancing, aerial silks and tango. Upward of 20 local and regional competitors will perform in three no-age-limit categories — professional, student and amateur, and troop (two or more dancers) — in an in-the-round cabaret setting. The competitors draw a song from Ishtar’s repertoire from a hat, improvise to it, and are judged by their dancing, audience interaction and showmanship. This year’s guest judges — who will also perform at the event — include: Canton, Ohio’s Sherena, star of the reality web series Project Bellydance; Maryland’s Greek belly-dance bombshell Amartia; WQED’s Kweilin Nassar, a ’80s belly-dance star; and Pittsburgh Dance Center owner and ballroom dancer Holly Kirby. 7-11 p.m. Sat., Nov. 3. 4765 Liberty Ave., Bloomfield. $10-15 (children under 12 free). 412-980-3345 or www.janim.org/belly-off.

This article first appeared in Pittsburgh City Paper October 31, 2012. Copyright Steve Sucato.