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11

SUNDAY

Belly dancing has gone commercial: Shaky-voiced chanteuses use it in music videos to distract from their lack of vocal skill, “identical-twin boa constrictor belly dancers” Veena and Neena hawk their exotic exercise tapes in television commercials, and no Middle Eastern restaurant is complete without a handful of bejeweled beauties undulating their exposed midriffs over plates of b’stella. D.C. dance company Harem of the Queen is expanding the widely co-opted art form and showing audiences that belly dancing, or Raks Sharki, is deeper than “the bra-and-skirt performances restaurant and club patrons often see.” Led by local dancer/instructor Malika Negwa, the group shakes and shimmies but also gives the history behind the ancient dance, which, depending on whom you consult, originated somewhere east of Europe and west of Japan. For those accustomed to seeing belly dancers in a less formal setting: There will be no snakes, no mint tea, and tipping is generally frowned upon. Strap on a pair of finger cymbals at 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10, and tonight at 7 p.m. at Dance Place, 3225 8th St. NE. $20. (202) 269-1600. (Sarah Godfrey)