Daz­zling dancer

Mon­treal-based Miryam Khoury comes to P.E.I. ev­ery year for the an­nual Le­banese levee

Journal Pioneer - - NEWS - BY KATHER­INE HUNT

There’s a spe­cial dancer who gets the crowd on their feet ev­ery year at the an­nual Le­banese levee in Char­lot­te­town.

Be­hind the jew­els and mes­mer­iz­ing dance moves is Miryam Khoury, a belly dancer from Mon­treal who per­formed in front of a sold-out crowd for the fourth year in a row at the 56th Le­banese Levee at the Delta Hotel on Satur­day.

“Not only is she very pro­fes­sional but she knows how the art is done,” said Nick Tweel, the event’s em­cee. “She knows how to work the crowd.”

Khoury swayed through aisles of tables, con­nect­ing with the crowd by invit­ing peo­ple to dance with her.

Belly danc­ing is one of the sta­ples of the an­nual Le­banese levee, which is a New Year’s cel­e­bra­tion or­ga­nized by the Cana­dian Le­banese As­so­ci­a­tion of P.E.I. It also fea­tured drum­mer Fadi KOD and tra­di­tional Le­banese cui­sine.

This year’s event had a sold-out crowd of about 650 peo­ple. When Khoury be­gan trav­el­ling to P.E.I. for the Le­banese levee she said she didn’t know what to ex­pect at first.

“The first time it was a new ex­pe­ri­ence for me and now I feel more com­fort­able,” she said. “The peo­ple are so warm and so nice ev­ery time I come.”

Khoury has spent her en­tire life danc­ing.

She per­formed tra­di­tional African dances and folk­loric dances since she was a lit­tle girl grow­ing up in Peru.

She started belly danc­ing af­ter mov­ing to Mon­treal 12 years ago when she tried out a class at the gym.

Belly danc­ing is an ex­pres­sive dance which takes skill, she said.

“It’s a hard dance be­cause you have to be very soft with your hands and your head, but your hips are very strong,” she said.

Belly danc­ing orig­i­nated in Egypt and is a tra­di­tion in Le­banese cul­ture as well as in Peru and many other coun­tries.

“I like to see the belly dancer be­cause that’s part of our cul­ture, me as a Syr­ian, so I’m so in­ter­ested to see the belly dancer and her cos­tumes,” said Hida Natafji, who lives in Char­lot­te­town and at­tended the levee.

Khoury also has a con­nec­tion to the Le­banese cul­ture be­cause her hus­band is from Le­banon and she has trav­elled to the coun­try four times. P.E.I. is not the only place Khoury has ¬belly danced for a crowd.

She has danced in New York City, Tai­wan and Spain.

She also dances about once a week with her dance troupe called Bell­y­se­mas, which con­sists of four dancers.

Khoury said belly danc­ing chan­nels a strong con­nec­tion to fem­i­nin­ity. “I think that ev­ery woman should do belly danc­ing,” she said. “You re­ally feel like a woman.” Khoury said she hopes to keep re­turn­ing for the levee in the com­ing years.

“I hope that next year I’m go­ing to come, maybe with other belly dancers too,” she said.

MITSUKI MORI/ SALTWIRE NET­WORK

Belly dancer Miryam Khoury per­forms dur­ing the Le­banese New Year levee held on Satur­day. Khoury’s per­for­mance has be­come a sta­ple of the event in re­cent years.

MITSUKI MORI/ SALTWIRE NET­WORK

Eida Rashed joins belly dancer Miryam Khoury dur­ing the 2019 Le­banese Levee.

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