When performed, belly dance can be very beautiful and exotic. However, it goes beyond women just looking good and dancing in the commonly seen coin-adorned hip scarves.
When done properly the dance has many health benefits.
The dance can benefit the whole body physically, emotionally and mentally. It tends to give women more confidence as well.
Local belly dance instructor Gabriellah Bache teaches students in beginner and advanced levels in the Sylvan Lake Legion basement Tuesday evenings.
The room is decorated and women wear comfortable cloths with coin-adorned hip scarves and learn how to belly dance in the proper positions.
It is a fun atmosphere where Bache spreads the energy by playing a variety of music and showing her students how to move. She keeps smiling at the same time.
Stress is not welcome in the room. If you make a wrong turn or move you simply get back to dancing.
Bache teachers her students how to move properly and at a reasonable pace. She explains how the moves are meant to look and their benefits.
The moves not only look good, they stretch and strengthen different muscles. Belly dancers walk straighter Bache said.
“Lots of health issues come from your spine,” Bache said. “So if you have a straight spine it’s really healthy for you. Lots of girls tell me they have less issues with their lower back, with their shoulders and they have less head aches or migraines.”
The pain may be from neck muscles. Some of the dance moves help with loosening up these muscles, as well as shoulder muscles.
Belly dance is not just for a select body type or age. Anyone can do it.
Bache’s youngest student is six-years-old with her oldest students being almost 70. There is no age limit to the dance as she has taught women who were older than 80.
“I think belly dancing is for everybody,” Bache said. “It doesn’t matter what shape women have. It’s not about the figure it’s about exercising and about ourselves. You get a better body feeling too.”
This dance can also help women in labour.
With belly dance being one of the oldest dances, Bache said it has been used as a birth dance. The muscles dancers used are used in labour.
“Women take classes when they are pregnant,” Bache said. “It makes it much easier for them. It’s a really healthy dance.”
For optimal health benefits, belly dancers have to practice dancing at home and on their own time. They can’t just do it for an hour once a week.
Practicing this dance at home is certainly no chore and more enjoyable than cleaning the house.
“It’s lots of fun. Everyone who comes to class really loves it,” Bache said. “They practice a lot at home because they get a totally different feeling from the music and a body feeling as well.”
“They tell me they get more confidence which is really good too for the feeling of your being,” she added.
When dancers first start learning the moves, after a short time they will start doing the belly dance moves no matter what music they are listening too, even if it is country music.
“The feeling of the music is changing,” Bache said. “If you listen to other music the movements always come back to you. It’s actually pretty funny.”
Bache ensures her students are moving properly by watching their movements in the mirror. This is not only for the glamour of the dance,but to makes sure her students are exercising and moving properly.
“I think it’s important that you know how to do it right because you don’t want to hurt yourself,” Bache said. “If you have an instructor that shows you how to do it it’s safer than if you just watch a DVD or the TV.”
This is why she critiques her students on how to be correctly positioned and move in a specific way.
Debbie Mieske, one of Bache’s students belly dances and really enjoys it. She says it is a beautiful dance, it makes beautiful moves and it makes her feel good.
“You learn different moves, you learn the beauty of your body, it’s good exercise. It’s just a wonderful experience,” Mieske said.
She said she has always exercised but belly dance has taught her to move different parts of her body in various ways. She said this is a workout but it’s a fun work out.
“Being able to move differently, it makes it easier to learn new dances,” Mieske said. “Your whole body moves differently when you belly dance. It’s just a wonderful whole body work out.”