My exercise challenge last week was belly dancing. Columbian songstress and professional hip jiggler, Shakira sang that the hips don’t lie. Turns out, mine do. I feel they should shake one way, they however, shake another way. However, despite my lack of coordination, deep down inside me, is an inner shimmy that wants to get out!
Belly dancing is, however, more than just shaking your hips. It’s an excellent form of exercise; low impact when you start, yet provides you with a mild cardio workout and efficient, fun, core strengthening. The more advanced your belly dancing becomes, the more advanced your workout. It’s great for mental stimulation. Believe me, you have to think which your way your body, hips and arms are moving and you’re taught how to move in a way which seems quite alien at first.
Victoria Painting runs two belly dancing classes; I attended the Tuesday night class at Great Cornard Leisure Centre (8.15pm-9.15pm) the other is on a Wednesday, 6pm-7pm at The Curve next to Sudbury Ormiston Academy. This form of exercise appeals to a varied audience. There were ladies in their late twenties, as well as my own mum (She won’t mind me telling you, she’s closer to 70 than 65!)
I asked Victoria why belly dancing appeals to so many people. “It’s a social event and enjoying belly dancing does not require years of training. You don't have to be young to perform, and it is a fun way to meet new friends and widen your social circle”
“Some professional dancers started out very young and have made it a career, but the majority are those who started as a hobby and continue because it is a passion. The different styles of belly dance mean that everyone from most walks of life can find something that they enjoy. For the most part it offers a fun, safe place to explore beyond comfort zones without judgement and expectation”
Women on the whole are drawn to it more than men because of the love of costuming, make up and jewellery. That being said, there are many men who enjoy the dance too for the same reason! Belly dancing is, at its core, a social dance, a community event, it crosses all social boundaries and brings people together.
You may have thought there was just one type of belly dancing, but not so. There are so many different forms. Victoria specialises in tribal belly dance, having studied with America Tribal Style ® and Synchronized Group Improv teachers. However, you could also try your hand at Egyptian folkloric, Egyptian cabaret, Turkish, American Cabaret, American Tribal Style, Tribal fusion, ITS, Gothic/Dark fusion, Asian fusion, Modern fusion ... basically, any dance form can be fused with bellydance
If you would like to give belly dancing a go, then please contact Victoria through her Facebook page. She’s also hosting a joint event with Erin from Fireflow in September, bringing together belly dancing and hula hooping! Click here for more information