The Guardian featuring famous Belly dancer Cameron Hill

July 1, 2013

Bell dancer strikes audiences with shakes, shimmies.

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Slender Gabrielle Jobity has spent half her life dancing, and has trained in many forms of dance, including modern dance, tap dance, samba and ballet. She is also an aspiring singer and trained pianist, a biology major at the University of the Southern Caribbean, and is currently setting her sights on pursuing a degree in dental medicine at the University of Florida.

But it is a bit surprising that Jobity would take an interest in belly-dancing, an artform which in many ways still lies dormant in the Caribbean and which many still associate only with female Latin sensation, Shakira. But belly dancing is exactly what Jobity has chosen to do.

“I’ve been practicing belly dancing professionally for a little over five years,” she revealed.

When asked what inspired her to take up this particular type of dance, Jobity admitted to it starting out as just another activity.

“The honest answer is, I’ve always looked for new extra curricular activities,” she said. “A friend of mine suggested belly dancing, and we both signed up for classes with Nalini Akal and the N-nine dance company.”

Concerning the trivial manner in which the artform is still taken by many, Jobity stressed that belly dancing was not merely for entertainment purposes, but that there were also physical benefits to the artform.

“Many people are not aware that belly

dancing exercises different parts of the body,” she explained. “It has both cardio-vascular and strength-training benefits. It strengthens the abs and also tones the buttocks and thighs.”

During her five-year stint as a belly dancer, Jobity became part of a group.

“I met some girls from different dance companies, but mainly from the N-nine dance company, and we formed a small organisation,” she said. “We perform together, but we do not go by any particular name.”

Jobity, who has had the opportunity to perform with a Florida-based dance agency, described the experience with audience response in T&T and abroad as having differences as well as similarities.

“At home, audience members tend to be surprised when first exposed to the dance, since not very many people here understand or know much about belly dancing,” she said. “Abroad, on the other hand, after a performance, people tend to comment more on how I go through my different routines and incorporate my own style into belly dancing, since they understand more about it and are better exposed to the artform. But I receive very enthusiastic responses after a performance both at home and abroad.”

When asked where she saw belly dancing taking her, the out-spoken Jobity paused for a moment to think.

“To me, the height of belly dancing is to take it seriously enough for it to become a way of life, and get others to be as serious as that about the artform as well.”