It also helps build self confidence and a positive body image. It's
glamorous and fun and forms many friendships. It is not competitive
and we are very supportive of each other.
There is a growing
network in South East Wales with over 70 classes running in the
area, and many events - haflas happening all the time when different
groups get together to perform and party!
are always interested in our performances, wherever they are.
This photo was taken when we danced at the Princess Royal's visit
to the Powerstation in Cwmbran.
here to read more about the royal visit and
here to read about the Powerstation's first birthday celebration.
I started classes in
Torfaen when my own teacher in Cardiff emigrated. As a qualified
teacher I was able to approach Adult Education and we started
a 16 week course in October 2002. The response was so great we
had to run two groups back to back which evolved into the present
club that still meets every Wednesday evening.
There is a group of
about 12 ladies which has been involved since the beginning and
another 20 or so on the list who have been coming for several
years. We always welcome a steady flow of new starters as well.
The average attendance every week is about 15.
We have a relaxed
fun atmosphere where correct technique is taught along with choreographies
in various styles from Arabian pop to folk - even western rock
Students can get what
they want out of the dancing - whether it's just a couple of hours
of exercise and fun with friends of a way of life, practising,
learning and performing. Many of my students perform with me -
one is learning to teach bellydance.
The West has always
been fascinated by Oriental culture. This was heightened by the
studies and paintings by orientalist artists of the 19th Century
and the uncorseted dances of Little Egypt at the Chicago World
fair in 1893. More
recently the "James Bond" image has influenced the West's
(incorrect) perception of the sultry exotic dancer.
term bellydance is belived to be a corruption of the word Beledi,
which is an Egyptian Urban folk style. It is a dance based on
the style of mainly Egypt and Turkey but once you scatch the surface
you find infinite variety of styles and dances from all over the
Middle and Near East, Eastern Europe and North Africa.
Styles include the
sequinned cabaret style which is the popular image of the exotic
belly dancer, influenced by Hollywood, to earthy traditional farmers'
folk dances using sticks where the dancers wear long dresses with
a hip scarf and are completely covered up.
Another very popular
style is American Tribal which is influenced by many styles and
is usually improvised in groups - hence the name tribal.
Contrary to many misconceptions
bellydance is NOT entertainment for men. It can be cheeky or sensual
but it is NOT sexual. It is a dance done by women for women, and
has also been used to help with pregnancy and childbirth. Traditionally
family and friends dance together at home or at weddings and other
family gatherings in its countries of origin, in much the same
way as dance groups get together in this country.
It is hoped that as more and more people are exposed to this art
form, the misunderstandings about it will dissipate and perhaps
it is not too much to hope that it will contribute towards encouraging
understanding of different cultures in a wider sense.
For more about my work,
article which was published on the RISE