HIDDEN among the buildings of Carrington St in Lismore is a room which has a hint of the splendour and charm of the boutiques and bazaars of the Middle East.

This Saturday at 6pm it will burst into life at its official launch with artists like Jimmy Willing and Lakita gracing the exotic stage.

The Barefoot Gypsies Tribal Belly Dance is a dance class and studio that specialises in a fusion of oriental, flamenco, Indian and gypsy styles while incorporating modern electro and ethnic music such as Balkan fusion and electro swing.

Co-owners Sasha Fox and Danielle Sansom already have 40 students ranging in age from five to 55 years, and are looking to rapidly expand.

Ms Sansom said most of students were women, but men were also welcome.

"The dance takes from the nomadic tribes of Afghanistan and Rajasthan in India and dips into the rich textiles and heavy jewellery of those cultures," she said. "We now have a huge, beautifully decorated space in the heart of Lismore that not only allows for larger classes more often but we can host events in collaboration with other local performing artists - some of who already use the space for practice.

"The main drive of the dance group is improvisation that works on a movement language and that means you can improvise with anyone, anywhere in the world at the drop of a hat.

"We have classes from toddlers, teens to adults of all levels - these girls need a space for swishing and swirling."

Ms Fox said that the whole experience was a feast for the senses that provided a workout for the mind and the body.



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