Laurel Richie is not your ordinary attorney. She won’t deem herself an artist but, at SB Magazine, we call it like we see it — Laurel is a true artist in every sense of the word. Lawyer by day, belly dancer and hoop performer by night, the art of dance brings her copious amounts of joy.

“I don’t get to be creative in my day job so I get that through dance, including costuming for performances,” said Laurel. “It’s also a whole different group of friends than who I would normally be around.”

Laurel fell in love with belly dancing when she joined Port Belly Project in 2005. The troop was formed that same year by Kathy Fontaine and Rebecca Prosino to provide education to the area about belly dance and to provide performance opportunities. Since then, Laurel and her partner, Karla Haas, have taken over as co-directors.

Laurel, with Port Belly Project and Shreveport Hoop Group, performs all of over Louisiana and Texas. They can often be seen at events like Christmas in the Sky, the Red River Revel, renaissance fairs, workshops, farmers markets and even birthday parties.

The best part about doing what she does — the challenge.

“It’s always fun to learn something new,” said Laurel. “You not only learn the physical movements, but also the history and the vocabulary. And when you start to gather with other people who have the same interest as you, you make new friends. It brings so much joy to me.”

Laurel also loves the costuming. Many of her pieces are vintage and her jewelry comes from all over the world. It’s tribal jewelry from areas like Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.

“A misconception about belly dance is that it’s done for men. People watch movies and they see dancers dancing for men. Its origin is actually tribal to celebrate weddings, births, etc. There are male belly dancers as well.

Find Laurel and groups on Facebook as Shreveport Hoop Group and The Port Belly Project.