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Shimmy On Over To The Convention

Malia Delapenia took her first belly dancing class when she was 19 and immediately fell in love with everything about it – the music, the culture, the costumes, the movement.

Now, at 33, she’s teaching others the beautiful Middle Eastern dance and has been busy organizing the eighth annual Hawaii Belly Dance Convention Oct. 12-16 in Honolulu.

“I love the way (belly dancing) made me feel about being a woman,” says Delapenia, who was born and raised on the Big Island and resides in Manoa. “Women of all ages, shapes and sizes can appreciate and fall in love with this dance. It makes you appreciate the curves you’re born with. It’s so empowering and confidence-building.

“There also are never-ending health benefits. It improves circulation, it’s a cardiovascular workout, there’s low-impact, there’s high-impact, and it’s sculpting and toning, I would say, every part of the body, but mostly your hips and midsection. You’re also learning how to engage your muscles, how to isolate and how to control different parts of the body that you never thought that you could.”

The five-day Hawaii Belly Dance Convention kicks off with the Shimmy Showcase gala at the Doris Duke Theatre at the Honolulu Museum of Art Oct. 12 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $25 for adults, $20 for students and Academy members, $15 for military and $12 for children. “We’ll be showcasing a journey through Middle Eastern culture and dance,” says Delapenia. “We also will have a live Arabic singer and a Middle Eastern band.”

Other convention events are Shimmy with Aloha workshops Oct. 13 and 14 at Ala Moana Hotel, featuring two-hour clinics for all levels. Topics range from Middle Eastern culture to detailed belly dance techniques. Cost for an individual workshop is $50.

There also is an After-Party Oct. 14 at The Venue in Chinatown, a sunset catamaran Oct. 15 and a catered hike Oct. 16.

Delapenia also teaches weekly belly dance classes on Sundays at 4:30 p.m. at Dream to Dance Studio (661 Auahi St.), and on Tuesdays at 5 p.m. at Al Franz Studio (419 South St. #140). She also leads a Shimmy Fitness class on Thursdays at 7 p.m. at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam Fitness Center.

First class is complimentary, and all ages are welcome.

For details, visit maliadelapenia.com or hawaiibellydanceconvention.com.