Even in Lincoln, most people have been to a luau or seen one on TV. So it's not so hard for Ann Bauers to describe what she does as one half of the Trade Wind Dancers. What's harder to explain is what she and partner Nancy Taylor do when inhabiting their alter egos, the Athenian Dancers: belly dancing.
But don't think Bauers and Taylor take their Polynesian dance any less seriously just because those techniques are more popular and widely understood.
"It's not just getting up and waving your arms and wiggling. There really is an authenticity to what we do," Bauers said.
The pair has invested in handmade costumes, both a Hawaiian-style sarong worn with a flowered headband and leis around the neck and hips, as well as a Tahitian grass skirt with tassels and a 22-inch-tall ceremonial headpiece made of shredded bark.
They use genuine instruments and accessories, too: "uli uli" feather gourds, "ipu" gourd drums, "pu'uli" split bamboo sticks used as instruments, fans and "ii's" pompoms, also made of shredded bark.
The pair are even traveling to Hawaii this summer for two weeks of training and certification in dances from those islands as well as Tahiti, Samoa and New Zealand.
And by fall, they'll likely add Polynesian classes to the belly-dancing sessions they already teach at Chase Firm Fitness Program.
Bauers and Taylor will spend a half-hour under each of their troupe names Saturday at the Celebrate Lincoln Ethnic Festival.
At 9 a.m., they will appear as the Athenian Dancers and belly dance on the main stage. At 1:15 p.m., as the Trade Wind Dancers, they will perform Polynesian dances on the indoor stage.
The festival's entertainment schedule also includes Irish dance lessons, martial arts demonstrations, choreographed Japanese drumming, salsa and calypso music, Vietnamese dancers, reggae music, African dancing and a multicultural children's choir.
Offstage, the second annual festival, produced by Updowntowners and presented by Lincoln Benefit Life, offers food, crafts, games, storytelling and pony rides.
For more information, visit www.celebratelincoln.org or call (402) 434-6902.
But keep in mind that seeing polynesian dancing on TV doesn't make it any less exotic or interesting than the other cultures represented this weekend.
Despite general familiarity with her form of dancing, Bauers said she and Taylor always garner quite a bit of attention when they wear their costumes and perform.
"To find it in Lincoln, Nebraska, is kind of a rarity," she said. "Particularly those costumes. They're absolutely stunning and eye-catching."
Reach Patti Vannoy at 473-7254 or email@example.com.