Tribal Fire’s Spirit in Motion dance benefit raises more money

Anthony Dominic

As patrons slowly filtered out of Cartwright Hall, Shannon Keeney sat slouched in a front row seat in the building’s dimly lit auditorium. As she wiped sweat from her brow, she had a wide smile on her face.

?Keeney’s dance troupe, Tribal Fire , had just raised $1,700 for Akron Children’s Hospital during its fourth annual Spirit In Motion belly dance benefit Saturday.

?Keeney, better known by her stage name, Shanrae, said her troupe spends all year preparing for the annual benefit.

?“Next week, we’re already having a meeting to talk about what we’re doing next year,” Keeney said. “It really means everything to us.”

Tribal Fire has raised nearly $7,000 for Akron Children’s Hospital since the first Spirit In Motion benefit in 2008. This marks the second year Spirit in Motion was held at Kent State, but it is the first year to include two performances, with an afternoon show in the Kiva, followed by an entirely different evening performance in Cartwright Hall.


Erika Elliott, who performed a solo number during the afternoon performance, said dancing in front of a crowd can be nerve-racking.

?“You feel really exposed on stage under the lights,” Elliott said. “But like with anything else in life, it just gets easier with practice.”


Tribal Fire and other regional dance troupes performed around two hours of dance numbers for a group of mostly family and community members. About 60 people attended each show. The performances offered a wide variety of belly dancing, ranging from tribal fusion to vaudeville styles, and included sword, hoop and veil routines.

?Keeney’s husband, Jamie, served as MC of the benefit, and described Spirit In Motion as “a cultural experience.”


“It’s a really interactive show that not everyone’s familiar with,” he said. “And every cent goes to the hospital because it’s all for the sake of the kids.”


Keeney’s late brother, Robbie, was born prematurely and received extensive care at Akron Children’s Hospital. Keeney said she was amazed by the hospital’s staff and will never forget their kindness.

?“Anytime my mom had to leave the hospital for any reason, the staff made sure that Robbie wasn’t alone,” Keeney said. “Everything they did was focused on making Robbie’s stay more pleasant and making sure my family was comfortable there.”

?Keeney said Spirit In Motion was the best way imaginable to combine two things that are close to her heart.

“I hope that people can hear our hearts speaking when we dance, and I hope that they walk away feeling uplifted and touched in some way,” Keeney said. “And I hope that in some small way, we are doing our part to help out the wonderful staff, and the amazing families and children at Akron Children’s Hospital.”


Contact Anthony Dominic at [email protected].