Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Shimmy & Shake!

I think I may have been born a dancer but in the wrong kind of body - at least going by today's rail-thin dancer physique. I used to dance quite a bit in my younger years, and when I was a University student I spent a lot of time in group fitness classes, dancing around, punching the air, doing high kicks... You get my drift. Boppy cardio, nothing muscular - even my legs wouldn't really feel a burn.

Since discovering the importance of strength training and the down-side of endurance exercise, I had been playing around with HIIT, Tabata, CrossFit... And, to be honest, I found them all pretty boring. Grunting and sweating and stop-starting? Bleh.

So I started playing around with the more-lyrical-yet-bloody-difficult art of Yoga, which I'm really enjoying, but it too started to get a bit 'samey'.


Enter belly dancing.

I've only been to two classes, but I'm apparently a natural, and everything just feels natural - my body was meant to move this way. It's still hard work, especially on the always-bent legs, always-raised arms, and always-undulating abs. It's great for back flexibility, and reverses the tension I build up in my shoulders and neck when I spent long periods at my desk.

However, the real delight I gain from the classes is the deep-rooted, primal urge I feel when performing the movements. There's something absolutely instinctual about this manner of moving. It's nowhere near the airy-fairy feeling of ballet and aerobics - this sensation is rooted in the earth, and my head is flooded with feminine imagery and feminine connections.

Another bonus - having boobs and bum is actually a bonus, since they emphasise my smaller waist as I shake and drop my hips and shimmy my shoulders! There are two twiglets in my class, and you really can't see what they're trying to do. It's all about the figure 8 - and I'm not talking about the movement!

I could push myself to exercise even if I wasn't enjoying it, since I know how important activity is for health - but why force yourself to do something you don't love? Belly dancing doesn't feel like work - actually, it feels more like sex. ;) And with the mad group of girls I'm dancing with on Mondays, that's the usual topic of conversation! Without over-romanticising the practice, I think belly dancing is the closest I'll get to the way traditional societies operate: women have their activities and rituals, the tribal instincts drive interactions, there's a fire for dancing around, and many reasons to celebrate...

And - let's face it - most guys would rather watch a curvy woman with an exposed midriff shimmy and shake than some boyish twig bounce around in glo-mesh. It's just natural.

13 comments:

Chris said...

Oh you really should have photos on a post like this!

Lydia said...

I've been lurking on your blog for a long time. I had to pipe up for this post. I've been bellydancing for twenty years and it's been a great experience. I hope you have a fantastic time with it. Congratulations on finding a movement that your body loves.

Dream_Puppy said...

So weird! I JUST posted an article on the disappearing hourglass figure.

Great post!! Do you think you will ever dance publicly?

I believe belly dancing was originally a way for women to prepare for childbirth, so the fact that it feels so natural to you is because it *IS* a very natural and feminine way to move. Keep it up!!

Stephen said...

Really great that you found something you like to do.

Food, flora and felines said...

Oh I love belly dancing, I haven't done it in ages though. Thinking about the primalness of it I think I'm going to try and find lessons again!

Anonymous said...

I just started belly dancing myself about a month age and I LOVE it! This is the ONLY exercise I have found where having big boobs and a big butt is an asset.

Jezwyn said...

Thanks for the comments, all! Maybe photos will come in time, if I get to a performance level... ;) In the meantime, go on YouTube and search for "Shakira belly dance" - reowr!

Dream_Puppy - where's your blog? It's such a shame that the hourglass is disappearing. I look around at the students I teach and they're either stick-thin, curvy but fighting it dangerously, or covered in bulges. So few have proportions like mine. This is probably why I have to battle so many male students failing to meet my eyes, if you know what I mean... There are but few curvy girls in their class to look at!

Frogs Mom said...

Fun! I took a class nearly 10 years ago and was debating starting up again but decided to go with ballet instead. Keeping the idea in my back pocket for later as the studio in town teaches it in a 6 week rotation.

Head Case said...

As a certified (or is that certifiable?), relatively unashamed, red-blooded male, and lover of the female form in its many guises, I have to agree that a woman with curves is considerably more attractive to me than stick-thin or obese.

I suspect it relates somehow to fertility and likelihood of survival in childbirth, but I have only hand-wavy explanations.

It is interesting to note that "pinups" tend to have curves, and it is only "fashion" models who are really skinny, because the designers like the way clothes hang on them.

My wife and I both thoroughly enjoyed watching belly dancing in Turkey, and the flexibility of those ladies' spines was astonishing. And very sexy.

Erica OBrien said...

Hi there - just found your blog. LOVE. LOVE.
Bellydancing would be fun - but I am so introverted I don't know. But would love to lurk at a restuarant ...

CALL ME SILLY said...

I am struggling with Belly Dance and am now venturing to Ballet in the hopes the lift and posture improve. Sometimes I think I am too old for this but then again...

Liana said...

I've been on and off thinking of belly dancing for years. I love the movement and the sensuality of it all, and I agree, it really feels rooted in something primal that I love. Once, while hula hooping at a festival a woman came up and asked if I was a belly dancer--sadly, no. But I think this has inspired me to take lessons at Uni this year!

I highly recommend hula hooping (with a large weighted hula hoop of course) if you like belly dancing. Some people do it very stiffly, but it's very easy to do it sensually, with the hips and the belly movement which I think is similar to belly dancing. And you can even learn tricks!

lucky said...

I really enjoy your post.belly dancing
helps keep fitness and it's also good for our health.When women are dancing,they look comfortable and with great confidence.I intend to have a belly dancing class and learn it.Wonderful!