(Courtesy/Belly Dancer USA)
Salem residents this weekend won't have to make a trip to watch live, competitive performances from some of the best belly dancers in the country.
The Belly Dancer USA competition will have dozens of dancers competing in both solo and large troupe performances at Salem's Historic Grand Theatre, slated for Saturday through Sunday.
Headlining the event is Vanessa of Cairo, an American-born dancer who has been living and dancing full-time in Egypt since 2008. She's the first and only American woman to start a production company in Egypt, according to a press release.
She will headline a gala event Saturday at 8 p.m.
Laura Leyl, the reigning Belly Dancer USA 2021 and a multi-award-winning professional belly dancer based in Los Angeles, will also perform at the gala event.
Cassandra Rose Pangburn, a Salem-based belly dancer and owner of dance studio Rose Empire Dance, "acquired the competition as part of a lifelong dream" to move it to the city, the press release said.
Salem resident Lindsay Pirelli, who is competing Sunday, takes classes at Rose Empire and has been belly dancing for about nine years.
Pirelli will compete in the professional fusion category, which incorporates other styles of dance or music into the traditional Middle Eastern movements and music seen in typical belly dancing.
She'll be wielding two swords during her dance, performing under the name Liska. It's a Czech surname meaning "fox," to honor her Czechoslovakian ancestry.
Pirelli encouraged anyone who is interested in dance to take classes at Rose Pangurn's studio and to come out for the weekend competition.
"If you're interested, come out and support us," she said.
Tickets are available online and are $15 for the Saturday daytime competition, $20 for the Saturday evening gala, $30 for a Saturday full-day pass, $10 for the Sunday daytime competition, $15 for the Sunday evening competition, $20 for a Sunday full-pass, and $45 for a full weekend pass.