Sunday, November 25, 2012

Bellydance Changed My Life

About four years ago I was looking for a way to work out that wouldn't actually feel like work. I've always had a strong interest in dance but had never actually studied any dance forms. So I started looking at the different types of belly dance. You don't need to a certain age or body type to belly dance. Anyone can do it. Besides it works the abs and hips and what woman doesn't want to work on those areas?

It was my intention to eventually pick up tribal fusion which tends to have a dark and gothic aesthetic. Since I used to be super goth and started going out to goth clubs way back when I was 16 this style really appealed to me. I could still belly dance but do it to all my favorite club hits. Thanks to the strong art history training at VCU, I feel like you have to study the where an art form comes from before you can start altering it or bending it to your will.

I picked up Amira's Bellydance 101 and started my journey. Amira is a local Las Vegas belly dancer and instructor but is known throughout the world. It was quite a challenge to get parts of my body to move in ways they had never moved before. I used to dread the section of the DVD with the body wave! After about two years of doing this DVD at least once a week in my living room, I was finally brave enough to go to an actual class. I contacted Amira but she typically teaches during the day when I work. She suggested I contact Aradia another local dancer and teacher with a world class reputation.

So on June 1, 2010 I walked into my first belly dance class. I was so nervous! Aradia is a star in the belly dance world but I introduced myself and found her very approachable and reassuring. I don't remember exactly what we covered in class those first few weeks but I do know it was quite humbling! I realized I could not dance and travel at the same time nor was I as good as I thought I was. But I didn't give up. Later on that year Aradia offerred a fan veil/drum solo choreography series. I debated with myself on whether or not I was ready but eventually I decided I was up for the challenge. I'm so thankful that I did!

Mt. Charleston 2012 photo by Glenn Brogan
The more I studied classic Egyptian style and listened to Arabic music the more I found I really loved it! So that shift to tribal never happened. Apparently, there's a side of me that likes to wear color every now and then. I was already attracted to sparkly things and dramatic eye makeup.

I began studying consistently with Aradia and dancing in a troupe led by Aradia's teaching assistant, Leslie. The Death by Shimmy ladies are all so unique and amazing. It truly is an honor to dance with them. I've learned so much about myself over the last two and half years. I have achieved so much more than I ever thought I could and met so many amazing women and men!

I was so miserable when my gall bladder was misbehaving and I couldn't dance.  Although I did push through it to perform a very beautiful veil piece with my troupe. The recovery period after my surgery seemed to take forever. It's difficult to get back up to speed between all m health issues over the last year and my new work schedule but I'm getting back up there. Belly dance truly is my passion in life and is somewhat responsible for my makeup addiction.

Death by Shimmy performing at the Las Vegas Bellydance Intensive 2012

Bellydance is really a beautiful art form with so many varied styles and traditions that it really can offer something for everyone. However, it is just like any other form of dance in that it takes constant study and practice. There is always something to learn! I've been in workshops where Aradia (with her 30+ years experience) was right next to me taking the class. Of course I thought I would swoon when she introduced me to another professional dancer in the class as her student. It was definitely validation for me. I was at least good enough that she'd want people to know she was my teacher. LOL.

Anyhoo, if you've read this far let's see some dancing!

So here's a version of that original fan veil/drum solo. I've performed the fan veil portion of this a few times as a solo but never with the drum solo on the end. I really pushed myself to just do it. I was able to add all the layers that seemed impossible when I first started. This performance was so much fun.

This next piece is a nod to the Golden Era of bellydance which started in the 1940s. I love this dance. It could be my favorite so far.

And finally if you're worried that we're too serious all the time, here's a dance we did for Halloween 2011. Remember when I said anyone could bellydance? The "mermaid" in this video is 60. The very beginning of this got cut off. : (

So there you have it. I could go on and on about bellydance all day but I've probably bored you all enough. If you have any questions or want to see more videos please let me know!

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