The Belly Dancer Within You

What will you discover when you take belly dancing classes?

Belly dancing lessons have been taken by thousands of women worldwide. If this dance provides a positive outlet of joy for you; it will become addictive. It becomes addictive because it will satisfy the pleasure centers of your being.

This dance is not for every woman, but for those who master it, it unveils their identity, strengths, and opens a world which enables confidence to pursue their dreams.

Why do women like belly dancing?

Women like belly dancing because:

  1. It makes you feel happy

  2. It satisfies your creativity

  3. It is attractive to those who study other cultures and their history

  4. It challenges the physical body, mental discipline, and emotional control

  5. It builds confidence, self-esteem and self-confidence

  6. It becomes a personal achievement

  7. Reshaping the body and losing weight

  8. Love of costumes and makeup

  9. Wearing beautiful jewelry and head pieces

  10. Wearing ethnic costuming

  11. Being comfortable with the female body

  12. Love of dance for freedom of body movement

  13. Making new friends with varied interests

  14. Performing

  15. Career

This dance is very motivating as it allows personal growth. It is a creative outlet which leads to many activities. In addition to the dance women take interests in photography, making costumes, creating jewelry designs, and designing choreography. There are also other art and craft attractions such as painting, sculpting, doll making, and writing.

As she discovers her strengths in this dance art she feels more free and fearless of expressing her independence. Women overcome their fears, negative self-limiting thinking, and other negative thoughts which keep them from advancing into competent and self-reliant individuals.

The other students in the classroom become friends and people who share in each others’ interests. The group becomes a support system which allows for feeling safe and comfortable. A good teacher is also valuable in guiding every individual to become the best person that she can be.

Not every student becomes a performer. Performers have to become strong psychological beings with confident knowledge. These traits give strength for stage survival and for non-performers strength for daily living.

Belly dancers become passionate about their art because it brings joy and happiness to their everyday living. These feelings of pleasure will override many of the challenging or negative experiences which are faced on a daily basis.

If the dancer feels that she has had a rough and tumble day, she needs only to find a quiet space and dance to her heart’s content. She revives her psychological strength, physical energy, and feels refreshed to face the day.

Belly Dancing for Fun and Physical Fitness

Belly dancing students have a lot of fun learning the movements of this beautiful art form of dancing. It is a fun discipline because both students and dancers enjoy this form of freelance dancing. This dance is unlike repetitive exercises which are boring and make you feel that you are laboring grudgingly.

The dancer stretches, tightens and releases, flexes and contracts, and vibrates muscle tissues in order to accomplish the various movements from selected areas of the body. While interpreting the rhythms she is burning body fat. toning muscles, and redistributing the body’s appearance for a personalized physical fitness. There is so much fun having the body freely move and respond to the exotic music that a person wants to keep dancing.

Exercising to music or dancing is appealing because physical, mental, and psychological satisfaction can be gained by marking time with your favorite rhythms. The proof of one’s accomplishment is reflected in the mirror. Wearing a beautiful costume which enhances your figure is an added boost to making a woman feel beautiful.

Muscle strength enables a dancer to complete twenty and thirty minute dance sets. Her legs, arms, body torso, and head are in constant movement which keeps her smiling and happy with not a care in the world while dancing.

Benefits of muscle strength:

1. The walking, skipping, sliding and shuffling movements offer bone strengthening for feet, ankles, and legs.

2. Shoulder, chest, and arm movement strengthen bones of the upper spine.

3. Abdominal movements condition the center area of the spine

4. Pelvic tucks and other similar movements strengthen the muscles of the lower spine.

5. Strengthening the spinal muscles affords flexibility and corrects spinal alignment ensuring good posture.

6. Working the muscles helps to burn fat resulting in a lean and toned body.

Another fun part of belly dancing for physical fitness is wearing parts of the costume. By wearing the bra, belt, hip scarf, a pair of harem pants or a skirt, it will make you feel beautiful as the movements are being performed. However, the major reason for wearing these items as practice garments is to be able to see and correct dance movements.

Practicing these belly dancing movements will require focusing and viewing feedback from a mirror helps to confirm the accuracy of the movements. However, the benefits of losing weight and toning the body without boring repetitive labored exercises are a welcome surprise when dancing your way to physical fitness.

The Belly Dance Taboo – An Erotic Fantasy, a Patriarchy Victim or a Feminist Victory?

“Ye to sirf prostitues karti hain”

(It’s a dance done only by prostitutes)

I was dumbfounded one morning when my boss made that scathing statement while we were discussing how we spend our weekends pursuing our passions. He further went on to share some unsolicited advice on how I should “Do it only infront of my husband or boyfriend.”

I was infuriated by this crude ridicule of the integrity of the art I love and my soul felt agitated. I would have made a snide remark about his caveman mindedness if, at that instant, the demure girl in me wasn’t forced to reconsider the choice made a year back.

I reminisced. I had, with great enthusiasm, consciously chosen to learn belly dancing as a way to explore and express my femininity. Initially I was skeptical about participating in an experience that is assumed to be sexually exploitative but was immediately struck with contradiction. For the first time I appreciated my body for what it was able to accomplish physically and aesthetically.

It felt so good. The doubt transpired. It transfigured into an urge to spread awareness about the art form and address the stigma attached to it.

‘Belly Dance’ is a popular improvised version of Raqs Sharqi, a dance form originated in the Middle East that involves undulating and serpentine movements of the torso. Highly recognized by the image of a voluptuous woman in a sequined costume and bare midriff performing such movements.

It originated as an art form passed on from a mother to her daughter to prepare the womb for child birth and was often performed at social gatherings.

Then how come along the way an art with such sacred origins came to be known as disreputable, something no proper women would indulge into and it was shameful for men to watch as well.

Patriarchy.

“Belly dance exists at a point of conflict between women’s expressions of fundamental truths, and patriarchal interpretations of this expression. It is not an easy place to be”, Andrea deagon phrases it well. It is these points of conflicts from which we can alter realities.

While for women the dance was a way to express emotions and a creative outlet to reconnect with their sensual selves which is an intrinsic aspect of human state.

The patriarchal era viewed women as a potentially disruptive force and their sexuality considered dangerous, due to the assumption that men are unable to resist their powerful lure.

The cruel patriarchal norms thus gave rise to a stereotype of belly dancers as sexually available, morally questionable, exotic unveiled dancer, an antithesis to restrained Muslim womanhood.

Moreover, when the west started to colonize Middle East, it attached the element of exotic to it. Failing to understand the movement vocabulary they wrongly perceived it as something sensual and irrational. It was soon shunned as a dance that arouses carnal desires in men.

Because men cannot control themselves against women’s allure, they put the responsibility on women instead. Are there any other reasons why it would be so intrinsically wrong for women to express their sensuality in public?

I would say belly dance is transgressive because it destabilizes social assumptions that women should not (publicly) shake, or draw attention to their breasts, hips, abdomens, and especially their pelvises.

Today, women around the world are taking it up and you ask them why?

To go beyond the comfortable into what stretches, challenges and revitalizes the mind. It helps them to tap into their physicality, reconcile with their body, feel liberated and foster a spirit of sisterhood.

It is sad that such an expressive dance form remains so misunderstood by a majority of the society and because of my unabashed love for it I can only hope the world soon comes to embrace it.