Middle Eastern dance event set for June 22Written by Matt Liasse | | email@example.com
Aegela started dancing 34 years ago with two friends because they wanted to quit smoking. They signed up for the first activity they could find.
“Here I am 34 years later still dancing,” she said.
Dance became a passion a year into her classes. When she moved here 10 years ago from Georgia, she sold her accounting practice to start teaching dance full time. She now has a school at The Toledo Center on South Holland-Sylvania Road.
“I became obsessed with it,” she said.
Her annual event, Global Spice, invites the public for Middle Eastern dance performances by students of the all-female Aegela Centers for Middle Eastern Dance. This year’s concert is June 22 at the Valleywood Golf Club in Swanton.
The event showcases choreography by Aegela (which is her registered legal name) and individual works of the students. Her 25 dancers will perform traditional dances of Egypt, North Africa, Turkey and Morocco.
“What I love most about it is that it’s a dance form that doesn’t compartmentalize women for age or body type,” Aegela said. “It opens avenues for women and is an expression that [isn’t] typically open for them after they’re in their early 20s.”
She said dance allows personalities to shine.
“It’s one of the few dance forms that really encourages individual expression. We love ballet, but … wherever you go in the world, you are going to see that movement done in exactly the same manner,” Aegela said.
Some of the students who will perform have been studying dance for seven years.
“They’re not quite rank beginners; don’t think of it as a children’s recital,” Aegela said.
In addition to her own school, guest performances from the ALMA Dance Experience (which specializes in West African dance) and the Aha! Dance Company (which specializes in Indian dance) are also included. The studio space for the school is in the process of becoming more of a culture center, so Aegela invited them along.
“We felt it would be a wonderful time to bring in those other two cultural aspects,” Aegela said.
Students from the belly dance classes at The Victory Center, which the Aegela Centers for Middle Eastern Dance sponsors, will also be at the event. The Victory Center’s class is open to anyone undergoing cancer treatment.
Aegela said she hopes the event will “dispel some myths about the Middle East.”
“With everything that is going on in the news today … I think it’s nice to see a positive spin,” Aegela said. “It’s going to give people a little taste of understanding [those countries] instead of just what they hear on CNN.”
Aegela has lived in various places around the world, including Turkey and Cairo. She just got back from Egypt in March where she was completing some work for a documentary. She said it became important for her to travel to see these types of dances.
“Dance is just everyday life [overseas],” she said.
The group can also be found performing at other Toledo events year-round, including the Old West End Festival.
Tickets for Global Spice are $10 and can be purchased in advance by calling (517) 918-9457. For more information, visit aegela.com.