Barb Van Hoy was trained in American tribal belly dance by the genre's creator, Carolena Nericcio, while living in San Francisco two years ago.
Given just 10 minutes to show off what she learned, she and her troupe of belly dancers will rely on improvisation to give their most inspired performance.
"We all learn the same movement vocabulary, and each of the dancers takes turns leading," says Van Hoy. "There are cues to the movements, so it looks choreographed."
Welcome to the Manitou Art Theater's 10 Minutes Max, where 10 performing artists and groups will get, yes, just 10 minutes to entertain the crowd. Most will incorporate improvisation with rehearsed or scripted material; all promise to contribute to an eclectic composition of theater, comedy, music and dance.
Ann Cowles, another of the performers, will play the Eastern European violin to fulfill her short slot.
"My satisfaction comes when my music causes a spark in someone's eye or a laugh," she says.
Ben Gibbons, who has practiced theater for eight years, will use his time to shine for a two-segment show. During the first segment, he plays a British character doing bird impersonations. The latter part of his skit is an old Vaudeville routine by Red Skelton called "Guzzler's Gin," in which a radio announcer gets drunk from sampling his sponsors' alcohol during every ad.
"I love hearing a whole bunch of people laugh," Gibbons says. "That's the best part of my job."
10 Minutes Max
Business of Art Center, 515 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs
Thursdays-Saturdays, Feb. 15-24, 8 p.m.
Tickets: $15; call 685-4729 or visit themat.org for more.