Belly of the Best 

Sahara Sand Productions' belly dancers evoke a gut reaction from their fans

The Web site for the Sahara Sand belly-dance troupe contains a page of testimonials from folks who've booked the dancers for private affairs. The page begins with a letter of praise that includes the following review:

"When "Vasha' and "Pasia' danced at Parkside Meadows Retirement Community in St. Charles last Wednesday evening, they were more than a hit. In the nearly two years I have directed activities and social services at Parkside, NO PROGRAM has been better received or garnered more compliments than Pasia and Vasha ... The elderly men had their emotions stirred and the women appreciated the skill and beauty of these young women ... The performance brightened the days of all present."

Need more be said? Troupe founder Yasmin and cohorts Pasia and Mona unveil (pun intended) a special holiday show at the Red Sea restaurant on Saturday night. As usual, they will dance separately as well as together and close with a bang. At the conclusion of each show, says Yasmin, "we go through the audience and pick members out, willing or unwilling, to participate, and the dancer will put a scarf around their "victim,' and at the end, often the whole restaurant joins in."

At the Saturday show, Mona will place a "tray of fire" on her head and dance with a sword amid tables of diners. If you are lucky, you will witness the wild Turkish body drop, in which the dancer goes from a standing position to lying on the floor in one sudden and dazzling motion.

All these exotic movements can really help a gal, too. "When Mona had her baby," Yasmin reports, "normally it would take hours and hours for labor, and it was like an hour and she was done, because she had those muscles developed from belly dancing."

It's all in the diaphragm.

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