Bits ‘n’ Pieces: Belly dancer shakes to aid the homeless



There are many aspects of the seventh annual Shimmy Shake and Share International Dance Showcase that could draw in the crowd. But there’s one thing that belly dancer Jennifer Heine-Withee is quick to highlight.

“We make sure to tell everyone that there’ll be church-lady pie, it’s the best pie in the world,” Heine-Withee said.

The dessert offered by the ladies of St. Paul Lutheran Church reflects on the community aspect of the show, which the belly dance troupe Raks el Sehr will be hosting to raise money for the church’s Winter Hospitality Outreach program for the homeless.

“In the past, the event has brought in $3,000,” Heine-Withee said. “If we could raise $3,500, I would be ecstatic.” The event began as a belly-dancing showcase by Raks el Sehr dancer Cynara, who passed away several years ago from a rare bone cancer.

“In her honor, we kept the show going, but we expanded it. There are so many wonderful forms of international dance,” said Heine-Withee, who hopes to share them with the community. The showcase next week will feature 45 dancers performing styles from Middle Eastern to Mexican.

A resident of Yacolt, Heine-Withee has been a belly dancer for 20 years. Her fascination began in college.

“When I saw belly dancers for the first time, it was the most beautiful dance form that I had ever seen. I had to try it, I had to do it.”

There are different types of belly-dancing, she explained, though she mainly performs American Cabaret, an Americanized form of Arabic and Egyptian styles.

“With belly dancing you’re just dancing from your neck to your hip. You’re working stomach muscles, glutes, thighs and muscles you didn’t know you had,” Heine-Withee said.

She’s known better in the belly-dancing community by her stage name, Jamilah Raine, which roughly translated means “beautiful queen” in Arabic and Sanskrit.

Shimmy Shake and Share’s showcase runs from 1 to 5 p.m., with the International Dance Show and Dessert from 6 to 8 p.m., Jan. 19 at St. Paul Lutheran Church, 1309 Franklin St. Tickets are $5 to 10. Visit

— Ashley Swanson

Writing coach’s guide aims to inspire fellow wordsmiths

It all changed when Christi Krug gave herself permission to make mistakes.

That deceptively simple shift in the Vancouver writer’s process, where less scrutiny is paid to early drafts to arouse experimentation, opened up new levels of creativity within Krug.

Now the Clark College writing teacher hopes to impart her cultivated concepts to a larger audience with “Burn Wild: A Writer’s Guide to Creative Breakthrough.” The self-published book, planned for release March 1, shares similar lessons Krug has given to students for the last 15 years.

“You have to get messy and make mistakes to be your most creative and free,” she said.

Using symbolic characters to personify the process, such as the playful Dream Kid or stodgy Dr. Codger, Krug teaches your critical side is vital, but not at early stages of creativity where too much thought can be crippling. Unless writers free themselves to try new things, she said, they’ll feel stuck in a frustrating loop of revisions and second-guesses.

Krug dreamt up the idea to weave her wisdom into a writing guide about four years ago. But she had to follow her own advice to complete the book, especially with her busy schedule of teaching, writing novels and freelance writer coaching.

“It’s been a great learning process,” she said.

Learn more about Krug at

— Stover E. Harger III

Bits ‘n’ Pieces appears Fridays and Saturdays. If you have a story you’d like to share, email