It doesn’t look like your average belly dance troupe. Six women wearing flowy beige gowns with combat backpacks are trouncing around the Urban Grace stage to the “Ghostbusters” theme song, complete with comic attack poses. But wait, they’re also wearing white sequined hip sashes with tassels. And in between the ’80s moves, they’re doing some serious shimmying.
Welcome to “Horrific: A Night of Horror-Themed Belly Dance,” which brings to Tacoma this Saturday some 40 dancers combining two art forms you probably never realized could go together.
“It’s definitely a little odd, and it gets some raised eyebrows, even from belly dancers,” explains Kat Ross, a tall, fit-looking woman with long blonde hair who’s leading the “Ghostbuster” routine by her studio, Tacoma Belly Dance, as well as producing the whole show. “It’s definitely being very creative … telling a story with your dance as well as still be dancing. It’s a juggling act.”
The juggling’s pretty entertaining in “Ghostbusters,” the show’s finale, in which Ross and her crew do tongue-in-cheek imitations of the famous movie in between hip swivels and graceful arm curves, channeling a little Carrie Fisher at the same time. The other 12 acts in the show include “Halloween,” featuring a full set of guitarists playing the score while dancers tell the story, “Friday the 13th,” “Nightmare on Elm Street,” “Jaws” and “The Munsters.”
It’s the third year Ross has organized the show, which pulls in belly dance groups from Seattle and Bellingham. Previous years have had themes around fairy tales or video games, but last year’s “Horrific” was so popular (it packed the Studio 6 Ballroom) that they brought it back and moved it to Urban Grace.
The show’s 40-odd performers range from veterans like Ross, who’s been belly dancing for eight years, to newer dancers. They help open the curtain on the popularity of the art form around the Puget Sound area, evident in the 1,295 members of the Seattle Belly Dance Facebook page.
It might be hard for some folks to think of belly dancing as anything other than women in Middle Eastern outfits shimmying to “Arabian Nights” music in Turkish restaurants. But that’s exactly why Ross, who studied Russian literature in college and has Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s name tattooed on her foot, likes to break out of that belly dance box.
“I’ve been teaching and performing traditional belly dance for a long time,” Ross says. “I love it, I think it’s a beautiful art form. But there’s the other side (of me) that loves these movies, loves these books, and you kind of want to show off all these other wonderful things that you like in the dance form that you know best. And that’s where you can really push the limit on what is belly dance and do it in a fun, entertaining format.”
Horrific: A Night of Horror-Themed Belly Dance
When: 8 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Urban Grace Church, 902 Market St., Tacoma.
Tickets: $15 and $20.