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Belly dancers shake it up for Paraween

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Belly dancers shake it up for Paraween (edge photo by Sienna Barstow)

Haus of Paradigm Dance Company marks 10th Halloween performance

BANGOR – When Shakira sang “Hips Don’t Lie,” she could have been talking about the Haus of Paradigm Dance Company. This group of belly dancers has been based in the Greater Bangor area since 2005.

Ao Pineda, the dance troupe’s director, moved to Bangor 15 years ago from New Orleans. Shortly after moving to Maine, she began learning how to belly dance. At that class, she met Zanjibal Zen - Jennifer Lee - and together, they founded Paradigm in 2005. The two became belly dancing instructors and quickly started to break away from the art’s traditional form, using contemporary music instead of traditional Arabic music to choreograph their dances.

Today, Pineda and Lee teach men and woman fusion belly dance, an amalgam of different dance traditions and styles. Their partnership works well because they operate on different sides of the dancing spectrum. Lee performs and writes choreographies for the troupe and creates custom choreographies for online clients across the nation. Meanwhile, Pineda acts as the den mother and artistic leader of the Haus of Paradigm; she frequently comes up with makeup, hair style, and costume ideas for the troupe’s performances.

The Haus of Paradigm dance classes take place at the Bangor Mall. The classes share studio space with the Ao Luxe Threading and Mehndi Bar. Haus of Paradigm teaches a belly dance beginner class, a drum solo dance class, an Opa! Fusion dance class, and a holiday-themed dance class in December. The drum solo class is a one-dancer demonstration of skill, artistry, muscle control and strength performed to live music. The Opa! Fusion class is a dance piece set to rowdy Rom music. Every class offers students the chance to learn choreography.

The dancing classes are open to and accessible for all ages; in terms of fitness, Haus of Paradigm promises a gentle, all-over workout in a fun, accepting environment. But exercise is not the only benefit of belly dance classes, according to Pineda.

“It’s not physically beneficial by core strength, but it also teaches you a lot of confidence by figuring out what your body can do it,” she said. “How you feel after a couple of classes changes and you just get this confident walk.”

In addition to the dance classes, the troupe also hosts their own performances – performances such as the upcoming Paraween. Paraween is a dance, music, and performance art event inspired by Halloween and the Mexican holiday Day of the Dead.

“Each Paraween is always a fun visual thing because you’ve got the sparkles and the funky music but there’s also a deeper lying story in the dance,” she said. This year’s Paraween is set for 7 p.m. on Oct. 21 at Hollywood Casino Hotel & Raceway Bangor.

This 10th Paraween show is choreographed under the theme of Syzygy. Syzygy is a unity and an alignment of celestial bodies.

“Syzygy has to do with goddesses and empowerment,” Pineda said. “It’s very theatrical. There’s drama, a lot of fun music, very complex choreographies and different levels of dancers as well.”

I personally went to a rehearsal of the Paraween Syzygy show and thought the show was indeed empowering. I also thought the show reminded individuals to celebrate themselves.

This year’s Paraween show includes the Shanghai Dance Theater. The Shanghai Dance Theater is a group of student dancers. There will be 14 dancers in the Paraween show including the Shanghai dancers and the performance will run a little over an hour. Attendees of the event are encouraged to dress up in costume. 

Last modified on Friday, 20 October 2017 10:35

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