Northside Library opened on Saturday, Mar. 19 to the sizzling dance moves from Hala Dance’s performers. They shook their hips, showed off their toned bellies and demonstrated the art of Egyptian dance. Over 1,600 people participated in Northside Library’s International Day festivities.
“Santa Clara has been booming with diversity,” says Cheryl Lee, library branch manager and program coordinator. “My goal is to meet the needs of our diverse community by having an International Day.”
According to Hala Fauzi, teacher and dancer, her group’s routine is not considered belly dancing. Rather, their style of dance should be referred to as baladi dancing, or country dancing.
“The cane in my dance is a tool people use in the Egyptian countryside’s farms for walking on uneven ground, reaching for high trees, gathering farm animals and for self-defense,” Fauzi says. “Dancers want to highlight their hips where the core is…When people dance socially they tie a scarf around their hips to highlight movement. When they dance on stage to perform like we did here today, they wear the jingles (fake coins) because they’re more flashy.”
The second program of the day featured Bollywood dance numbers from the Indian Dance Academy.
“We love dancing and we wanted to see the Bollywood dancing,” says Moon Burnett, an audience member. “I might’ve seen Bollywood dancing on TV before but not in real life.”
Accompanying Burnett was her daughter Julia, wearing a purple Rapunzel dress and cap. The three year-old anticipated meeting Disney princesses Pocahontas and Mulan later at the library.
Other festivities of International Day included a Mandarin rock concert by Bilingual Birdies, a puppet show by The Puppet Company featuring Anansi the Spider, an African folktale, and international board games, some with Chinese and African influences.,
Filling the bellies of adventurous eaters, the International Food Fest was the culminating event of the day.
“We’re featuring snacks around the world and I have a pretty ambitious list of foods,” Lee says. “We’re serving chick pea cookies from Iran. From Mexico, we have cactus water. From the Philippines, we have banana sauce. From the United Kingdom, we have British lemon barley water. From Israel, we’re doing borscht soup, and from Australia, we’re trying vegemite.”