Oh I have been wanting to do this post for such a long time.
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Belly dance. It conjures images of exotic lands, lush music, women shimmying and moving sinuously while wearing bright elaborate costumes. You’re probably also thinking that there is no way you can belly dance and look good doing it, because your body isn’t perfect or you’re not coordinated enough to work an outfit like THAT one above.
I’m here to tell you that if you started belly dancing and keep with it, you very likely CAN dance like a diva!
My first foray into belly dance was in 2004. A friend of mine from Boston was working here for the summer and had started studying dance. She found a class which was very close to my house, and we went. Turned out I could pick it up pretty fast.
Then the class ended and I did nothing of the sort for five years.
Come 2009, there were classes again near my house, with a new teacher. The summer progressed, people came in and out of the class, with about three people regularly showing up for lessons. We stretched, learned upper body isolations, lower body isolations, shimmies, the basics of zils, floor work, and started to get to know each other as people. Time went on, I got a little better, and started attending classes with people who had a lot more experience than I did. It made me better though. At this point I consider myself at the lower end of intermediate. I know a lot of the foundation moves, several 4/4 patterns with the zils, and am prepping to go into learning choreography. My teacher has also morphed into a good friend and I look forward to my weekly one-on-one lessons, now that I have the energy to practice more.
No, there are no videos of me dancing.
Bellydance is an ideal way to start loving your body. It celebrates the female form, encourages you to have curves (you need something to shake and undulate!), improves your posture, your overall fitness level (both aerobic and strength), and is a self-esteem boost like no other. Imagine yourself dancing like one of the women in the videos I’ve linked below and tell me you would not feel like a shining star for doing that!
There are a lot of styles of belly dance out there. You have Egyptian…
(note the floorwork and slow movements, known as taksim. And yes, this played on Turkish TV. Any thoughts you have about women in Near Eastern cultures fly out the window when you see belly dancers at work.)
There’s American Tribal style…
You can also find Lebanese, Greek, Gypsy, and Cabaret. I am sure I also forgot some styles in there.
So are you thinking about giving it a try? My best suggestion for learning is this:
Find a live teacher who will break down moves and correct you regularly.
Honestly, there is nothing like having a real teacher working with you. A DVD or youtube video will not be able to observe you and see your tailbone sticking out or your shoulder moving while you practice a hip isolation. (Yes I speak from experience on that one.) If you can’t find a teacher in your area and you really want to start dancing, I can recommend a few DVDs which I own.
Bellydance: basics and beyond will break down a lot of the foundation moves, give you tips on posture, go into some basic steps, and has a choreography at the end all built with moves featured in the disc.
Lucious: the bellydance workout was the first DVD I purchased. You get foundation Egyptian moves combined with workouts. Yes you will work using this DVD.
Sadie’s complete bellydance guide is a DVD I’ve just gotten and not had a chance to watch much. From what I have seen so far this is great if you have had some basic bellydance instruction previously.
Belly dance on Wikipedia
Radio Bastet vintage bellydance music podcast by an online friend of mine for many years.
Mahinmar you youtube which is PACKED with drill videos.
Princess Farhana’s blog, aka Pleasant Gehman, she of massive fabulousness.
Do you bellydance? Are you now thinking about giving it a try?