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Friday, Feb. 1, 2008

Praise be for belly dancers

It's often said that good things (and bad ones) come in threes. But anyone who has seen Tokyo-based belly dancers The Afet Collective in action is likely to insist that great things come in sevens.

News photo
Eshe, founder of The Afet Collective STEPHANIE BELL PHOTO

Operating under the slogan "Dancing for a cause, a cause for dance," the septet began working together in late 2006. All experienced solo performers, they established early on that they wanted to make Afet different from the countless Middle Eastern-inspired troupes now operating around Japan. To do so, they decided to hold their Afet-related gigs as benefit shows.

After searching for a charity they could all identify with, group founder Eshe (who goes by only one name, as do the other girls in the group) learned of the HELP (Housing in Emergency of Love and Peace) Asian Women's Shelter in Tokyo. Founded in 1986, HELP provides assistance to more than 300 Japanese and foreign women annually who are victims of abuse and sexual slavery. Organizing three Afet events in 2007, the sensuous sirens (Afet means "catastrophically beautiful" in Turkish) raised over ¥170,000 for HELP while dazzling crowds with a multitude of back bends and shimmies.

Eshe, along with fellow dancers Anaan, Farasha, Henna, Ozma, Suiren and Yoko, will once again show off the size of Afet's collective heart this Valentine's season during their second annual "V-Day" on Feb. 8 at Cafe Studio in Harajuku, Tokyo. The night will feature three sets of Oriental and tribal belly dancing and renowned belly-dance artist and instructor Mishaal will make a special guest appearance. DJ B Krishta will play a hip selection of world music between dances. Proceeds will be donated to HELP and the international charity V-Day, which aims to stop violence against women and girls.

The Afet Collective presents "V-Day" on Feb. 8 (7:15-10:30 p.m.) at Cafe Studio, 4-31-10 YM Square Harajuku, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo (tel. [03] 3478-0182). Admission is ¥3,000 at the door. For directions, visit www.cafe-studio.jp. For more information, visit www.myspace.com/theafetcollective

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