Belly dancers bring art form to Sumner

There was a whole lotta’ shakin’ going on Feb. 11 when Zemirah and her fellow belly dancers jingled and shook the afternoon away at the Sumner Senior Center.

There was a whole lotta’ shakin’ going on Feb. 11 when Zemirah and her fellow belly dancers jingled and shook the afternoon away at the Sumner Senior Center.

Zemirah, also known as Puyallup resident and belly dance instructor Shelby Lohr, danced with her fellow performers and students for the center’s annual St. Valentine’s Day luncheon.

“Everybody really enjoyed them,” Director Linda Clagert said.

The event attracted a crowd of at least 50 including a few new faces curious enough to see what the anticipated fun was all about, she said.

Joining in on the Middle Eastern art form were Ida Holbrook, 77, Betty Rehn, 78, and Maria Aguirre who, at 63, has been dancing “off and on” for 30 years, she said, and with Lohr for a year. Together, the four Puyallup residents dance at the Puyallup Activities Center once a month.

“To me, it’s exotic,” Aguirre said. “I love it because it uses several forms of music such as Asian, Moroccan, Egyptian and even American.”

Musa Kalis kept an enthusiastic audience drawn in to the entertainment while guests laughed each time Zemirah danced before them.

“They had a great time,” Clagert said. “It was fun for them to see everybody enjoying them – especially the men! What’s that saying – ‘there might be snow on the roof but fire in the…’ how does that go?” Clagert laughed. And so did the crowd, which offered resounding applause to each dance.

That kind of response is what keeps Lohr and her fellow dancers performing regularly at several retirement and senior centers, she said. And when they do, she and her fellow dancers expect the occasional raised eyebrow or audience members “who have this Hollywood version of what belly dancing is – but we’re not that.”

The dancing may seem exotic and difficult, but Lohr said she encourages anyone who wants to give it a try to do so.

“Some women have al-ways been told they couldn’t dance because they’ve been told they’re too old or too heavy,” she said. “But it’s just delightful. They’re moving and having fun.”

That fun will be repeated April 15 at the Sumner Senior Center. “We’ve already asked them to come back,” Clagert said.

Reach Judy Halone at or 360-802-8210.

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