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Of Books and Bellies
Photo by
John Davis
What's surprising about Martha Edgerton (front) and Leslie Wiggins being belly dancers isn't that their day jobs are in the Johns Hopkins Sheridan Libraries. Lots of artists and dancers and musicians work there, points out Edgerton, a book and paper conservator in the library's preservation department.

No, the surprising part is that both women are so slim they lack the jiggling midsection that gives the Middle Eastern dance its name. "Belly dancers come in all sizes," says Edgerton, who along with Wiggins must exaggerate her shimmies, omis (hip circles), and other moves to be seen by the audience. The duo has been taking classes and performing with Egyptian Sun, a Johns Hopkins belly dancing troupe, for about three years. Both say they like that the troupe includes people of all ages, shapes, and sizes. Then there's the fact that they can choreograph their routines to any style of music, like country-western, heavy metal, or hip-hop. And the costumes and props — gauzy, glinting, melodious — aren't half bad either. "We just got our swords," says Edgerton. "We have to learn to balance them on our heads while we dance."

The women are confident performers, yet to date they've declined invitations to dance at the library's holiday party. "Too close," says Wiggins, Web site coordinator for the library dean's office. "I'd rather be up on stage." — Maria Blackburn

Return to February 2008 Table of Contents

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