by Cara Gardner

There's a Zimbabwean proverb that goes, "If you can talk, you can sing; if you can walk, you can dance." Empowering, perhaps, but not particularly accurate. Plenty of people know firsthand that singing and dancing should be left to those who are really good at it. Luckily, there are ample opportunities to enjoy dance professionals hard at work this season. The Inland Northwest offers up some amazing professional talent, ranging from awe-inducing ballet to mesmerizing belly dancing.

For starters, if you just can't get enough of that wonderfully rhythmic Irish dancing, then be sure not to miss "Celtic Harvest -- A Cornucopia of Celtic Music and Dance," on Saturday, Sept. 20 at the Met. Performed as two different shows on the same day, Celtic Harvest promises to offer both traditional and non-traditional dancing by the Haran Irish and Highland Dancers to music from Ireland, Scotland and England.

There's something mysterious and charming about a veiled woman, shifting and swaying around you with her bare midriff. Perhaps that's why belly dancing has been such a well-appreciated dance form for centuries. And it's incredibly hard to master. The Nah'Joom Dancers, from the Northwest Association of Middle Eastern Dancers International, will wiggle and jiggle their way through several occasions this season. On Saturday, Nov. 1, Nah'Joom will participate at the Folklife Festival at Spokane Community College. And if you're planning on attending First Night Spokane on Dec. 31, you may catch sight of the colorful, bead-laden group in downtown Spokane.

Those with an appreciation for the fine art of ballet are in for a treat this year. Spokane now has Ballet Spokane, the only professional dance company in the area (see story). In addition, Theatre Ballet of Spokane, directed by Peggy Goodner-Tan, will perform throughout the season, starting off with Cinderella at the Met on Friday, Oct. 17. The troupe will also perform at the 16th annual Ballet and Bubbly on New Year's Eve at the Met. The hour-long performance includes both contemporary and classic ballet dancing and will be followed by a champagne-and-chocolate reception.

The American Indian Dance Theater (AIDA) has participation from 16 Indian nations. AIDA will perform Kotuwokan! at the Panida Theater in Sandpoint on Friday, Oct. 3, and at WSU's Beasley Coliseum on Sunday, Oct. 5. AIDA's dancing is the result of various ceremonial, seasonal and spiritual dances that have been passed down for generations.

The University of Idaho is offering a spectacular dance performance by the Aspen/Santa Fe Ballet on Nov. 2-3. The 10-member company performs nationwide, thrilling audiences with both classical and modern ballets. In addition to being one of the best up-and-coming ballet companies in the nation, the Aspen/Santa Fe ballet has local roots. Brooke Klinger, a native of Coeur d'Alene and previous understudy of Ceci Klein, a local ballet authority, is the principal dancer in the Aspen/Santa Fe Ballet. Klinger is one of the founding members of the dance company and will dance for fellow locals during the company's performance.

Don't miss the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol, performed as an original ballet, on Saturday, Dec. 6, at Lewiston High School Auditorium, and on Dec. 12 and 13 at the UI Hartung Theater. More than 150 dancers, musicians and performers tell the story of Ebenezer Scrooge.

And as for Christmas traditions, don't forget The Nutcracker, which is being staged at the Opera House by the Spokane Symphony and the Alberta Ballet on Dec. 5-7. The Eugene Ballet brings its rendition to Sandpoint's Panida on Dec. 9.

All these great dance performances may inspire audiences to take a lesson or two themselves. Whether it's Latin-inspired steps from Salsa to the Tango, or traditional American Contra dancing, there are groups, societies, clubs, sessions and lessons out there for everyone. After all, if you can walk, then you can dance.

Publication date: 09/11/03

Juneteenth: A Celebration of Resistance @ Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

Sat., June 19, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
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