I’ve been teaching belly dancing for years. Why? Well, I believe that movement is life, emotion is essential, and beauty is a necessity, so that’s why I teach this elegant art form.
Recently, more and more women are getting hooked by its magic: the soft, sharp movements, the captivating melodies, and the hypnotic rhythms of Bellydance music.
But in case you’ve never thought about belly dancing before, let me explain why every woman should start right now.
1. Bellydancing is more accessible than you think
Let me tell you something. You don’t need to be a diva to belly dance.
You don’t have to be thin to belly dance (although slim dancers are welcome).
And you don’t have to be 20-something to belly dance (although hey, if you’re in your 20s you’re also welcome in the belly dance community!)
Bellydance, also known as Arabic or oriental dance, is an ancient dance form with cryptic origins and a tumultuous history.
I’m talking about a dance form that was forbidden in Egypt under the Mohammed Kingdom during the first half of the 19th century.
And still, nowadays, the act of belly dancing is seen as a depraved art form for many. Even in western cultures.
Shakira made belly dancing mainstream in the western world in the early noughties.
Since then, millions of women have discovered the utter joys of belly dance.
The dance has been practised for centuries by women from all sorts of backgrounds, regardless of age, size, and even health conditions.
It will always be a trend.
2. But what is that make belly dancing so special?
All dance forms have that technique element, in that they demand high involvement from your body in the shapes and lines you draw.
But belly dancing is a really affordable dance form, in the sense that it is not extremely demanding on your body (this doesn’t mean it’s simple).
The risk of injury is very very low, you don’t need a partner, and most of the time you’ll find yourself in a women-only environment.
There’s also something about belly dance moves that make it undeniably feminine. As a friend of mine says: ‘The archaeology of belly dance is in its own moves’.
Most belly dance movements are focused in the pelvic area. I’m sure you’re aware of the taboo around women’s sexuality and sensuality.
Bellydancing has the power to rid us of any shame from this taboo and to reconnect us with that part of our lives – our senses and our sexuality.
The figure of eight, for example, can help relieve period pain, as I explain in this article.
The camel movement has been used for many women to give birth, the Mayan to strengthen our oblique muscles, and the Shimmy for our legs.
But belly dance still has much more to offer.
3. Self-esteem, spirituality and self-expression in belly dance
The dance itself, in any form, opens the door to your inner world. This means you’ll undergo some changes and learning when undertaking this artform.
Up until now, I’ve only mentioned the physical side of belly dance, and for some, this might be enough. However, belly dance can be much more than that.
Our bodies keep score of all the traumas, complexities, and pleasurable experiences we’ve gone through. Our body language depends on many things and based on our body language we develop movement habits and postures that can be harmful.
There are many taboos around the female body that we’ve almost internalised and accepted these stigmas. This affects our psyche, our confidence, our behaviours and our position in the world.
I grew up in an abusive environment and was severely bullied at school.
My body was the cause of most of this rejection. And I found a scape valve in dance. But it was not the only way to relax and have a good time.
Bellydance saved my life
- It gave me the opportunity to express what couldn’t come out in words
- It was a way to step on a stage and dance and be admired for that
- Bellydance taught me to value my body for its capacities rather than for its shape
- It was my main source of friends for a very long time
- Arabic dance became my daily mindfulness practise. My meditation was in my movement
Bellydance is food for resilienceZahida Palma – CEO of DancePandemic.com
This is only a summary of my own story, but there are hundreds, thousands of bellydancers out there with incredible stories to share. Some examples of ways belly dance has helped people from my 20 years as a teacher are:
- Survivors of domestic violence who found more help in a belly dance lesson than in their counselling session
- Refugee women who had fun for the first time in years after of running away
- Women with hip arthritis who used belly dance as a pain killer for their condition
- Mums of two who stopped a uterine prolapse
- Women who find in their belly dance lessons their social and me-time of the week
Bellydance is not a miracle, it is not a magic wand, and it’s not the cure to all the bad things in life, but belly dance it’s definitely a tool to spring clean your soul and polish up your body.
4. How to start belly dancing in 30 seconds
Now you know about why belly dance is so beneficial, it’s time to try it out yourself.
Let’s get started.
- Stand up
- Slightly spread your legs
- Visualise The Moon inside your pelvis
- Draw a circular orbit in the space with your pelvis/moon
Congratulations! You’re already belly dancing!
Of course, there’s much more than this. There’s the rich cultural background and the music and body coordination to be learnt and practised.
But hey. There’s always the first step to take, and you just took it.
The movement you’ve just created is called Big Hip Circle and I may have included it in Bellydance: Your First Steps (a mega-blog article I wrote not long ago).
5. Bellydance Classes
If you’re truly ready to dive into belly dancing, then Bellydance With The Moon: 29 Days to Start Bellydancing with me is the place to begin.
Whether you choose to keep on dancing with me or not (remember, you’ve already done your first belly dance movement), I really hope you never stop dancing and enjoying the wonderful body you live in.
With all my love and some hip hits,
Founder and CEO of DancePandemic.com
And for more Me&Me Time event recommendations, click here.