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A Few Concern-Busting Reassurances
By Colleen Heavey Berg (www.discoverbellydance.com)
Pictures by Nazeem Allayl © 2006, all rights reserved
Here's a peek at five common concerns about the dance that women often
struggle with as they attempt to come to terms with the essence of belly
Fabulous Student Group July '05
*** Concern: I'm not very beautiful and exotic looking.
Let's not kid ourselves; being attractive by a society's standards is a plus
no matter what you do! But because belly dance embraces the uniqueness of
each woman, this is much less of an issue than you might imagine. Moving
well and with confidence IS beautiful, and transcends the merely physical
aspects of beauty.
It is true that the "classic" belly dancer look is thought of by many as the
smoky eyed, olive skinned woman with cascading raven tresses and enough gold
jewelry on to open her own mall kiosk. But many of the world's greatest
belly dancers do not at all fit this mold. So embrace your individuality.
Striving to imitate others or to replicate rigid stereotypes is far less
interesting, and less empowering.
*** Concern: I'm not young enough to be a belly dancer.
The gentle movement of belly dance is an ideal activity for all ages. Even
older women who have no dance background often have a special grace of
movement that comes from comfort and experience with their own bodies, and
from a sense of self-confidence. If you want to shake a hip for exercise and
fun, age is nothing to concern yourself about.
*** Concern: It's a dance of seduction; I'll have to flirt with men
See this video clip about our studio (Fox5, 3MB).
If you do have your sights set on dancing professionally, some venues do
prefer a youthful look. In many cases, however, skill, style and an overall
pleasing presentation are more important factors. And, as an alternative to
the traditional nightclubs you might be imagining, you can also strut your
stuff in festivals, showcases, and perhaps as part of a performing troupe.
Fabulous Student Group October '05
Belly dance aims to be sensual, not sexual. There are no poles to swing
around or lap dances involved, trust me. While some light hearted flirtation
with the audience may be part of a belly dancer's act, the vast majority of
belly dancers are not interested in seducing anyone.
What they are there to do is enchant and mesmerize a varied audience. It is
a society's rather body-phobic conditioning that is the source of confusion
here. That, and the fact that Middle Eastern dance movement is unusual to
Western eyes can make it seem suspect.
Studio Show October '04
*** Concern: I'll have to show a lot of skin|
For dancing at home and at dance class, you don't need to show anything you
don't want to, including your belly. Many students choose to wear a full
skirt or body unitard and a hip scarf adorned with coins, fringe or beads;
this is a great way to look the part without baring your belly if you'd
For public dancing, how revealing your costume is depends on the
circumstance, the style of belly dancing you choose to do, and your own
preferences. The costuming for some tribal and folkloric styles, and even
some Egyptian and nightclub dancing, is extremely modest and does not bare
the torso whatsoever.
Freeing ourselves of these anxieties and limiting ideas about belly dance,
as we grow as dancers, makes room for the joyful, creative spirit of our
dance! And that's a goal worthy of the dance artist in us all!
*** Concern: People will think I'm a show-off
Not necessarily! And probably not unless that's what they'd also think of a
ballet dancer, a gymnast, a fashion model, or a sunbather. And at least
belly dancing doesn't give you skin cancer! Many dancers deal with this
issue by making it a point to chat with family and friends about the many
reasons they choose to dance… from the challenge of learning new
combinations, to the sheer joy of being moved by rhythm.