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Hala's Middle Eastern Dance
Stanford University International Week Celebration
Palo Alto, California
September 2004

Hala, a specialist in Middle Eastern dance, wore the Peace Belt at Stanford University's International Center as part of the University's International Week Celebration.

Before her eagerly awaited performance, Hala offered a dance workshop. Several dozen students from around the world joined in a circle around Hala to participate. Most had never tried Middle Eastern dance before and looked shy. They stayed near the door or slightly outside of the circle.

Hala is a poised and gregarious woman with a generous smile and contagious enthusiasm for her dance. She first demonstrated simple movements of the wrist or the arms to get everyone moving.

Inhibitions quickly slipped away as twists and turns were introduced. Soon everyone was practicing the moves and putting dance steps together. I was amazed at how quickly one could pick up a few simple moves, but also realized that Hala made more advanced dancing look easy.

At the end of the workshop, Hala welcomed everyone to take a turn dancing in the center of the circle. With the confidence and excitement of the newly acquired dance steps, the new Middle Eastern dancers eagerly jumped into the center of the circle. The room had become an energetic dance party.

Out of breath and newly inspired, the dancers became the audience and anticipation to watch Hala perform filled the air. Four members of Hala's dance troupe began the show and made way for Hala's breathtaking entrance.

The Peace Belt is not unlike the belts, sashes, and jewelry worn in traditional Middle Eastern Dance, so the belt was particularly complimentary to Hala's brightly colored costume.

Everyone cheered and clapped, and some sang along as Hala danced to the music of the famous female Arab singer, Om Kolthoum. The audience was infected with the moves and the music Hala had brought to them.