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Belly Dancing and Independence

Posted Oct 22 2008 4:50pm
Last night was my first of eight belly dancing classes. It was awesome and I'm already looking forward to next week's class- there's only about 10 of us in the class and most of the women appear to be between their late 20's and early 40's. There's all types of body shapes and sizes but everyone was very capable of performing the moves- and wow, some of those women could sure move their hips! They looked great. It helps to be curvy in a class like belly dancing. At one point the instructer teased me that I was being too dainty, and I wanted to protest, "it's not my fault! It's because I don't have hips!" Not having those curves is a bit of a hindrance when you're performing something like belly dancing.

There's an activity for every body shape out there, and I think that that's one of my most favourite parts about exercise: it doesn't discriminate. Anyone can do it; the key is to find the activity that's right for your body and that works well with you. Even if you're trying out something that maybe your body type isn't ideal for- like me with belly dancing- you can still have heaps of fun with it and learn to move in all sorts of new ways and stretch muscles you didn't even know you had.

We started out the class with donning our hip scarves (they jingle!) and warming up with hula hoops. As most of us hadn't used a hula hoop since elementary school, this resulted in much laughing as the hoops spun around our waists for a grand total of about 3 seconds before crashing to the floor. I'm going to go out this week and buy myself a hula hoop so that I can practice and learn the knack of it (it's surprising how good of a workout kids' games are, like hula hoops and jump ropes... and they're fun, too!).

The class was an hour long, and we learned several moves in addition to the correct posture and where the arms (and the eyes) should be held. It's something that I've never done before but I've always admired dancers and been in awe of their skill. Acquiring that skill for myself feels like such an accomplishment! I haven't done too much dancing before; a few classes of salsa when I was in Costa Rica is about the extent- apart from the year of ballet that I did when I was about 5 years old. Another dance that I would really be interested in learning is flamenco. When I lived in Spain I had the opportunity to see some real traditional Spanish flamenco dancing and it was one of the most gorgeous practices I've ever witnessed (my video of it is kind of sketchy because there was a huge crowd of people and I was just using my little digital camera to film it, but you get the idea):


The other really fun part about the belly dancing class was experiencing it on my own. While it would have been fun if a friend had joined me, there's something nice about going off on your own independently to have an adventure. Trying new things is wonderful, and it's really relaxing when you're on your own and just have yourself to take care of.

The past few days I've been trying to go out on my own a bit more, and meet new people. Last night after the belly dancing class I went to a trivia competition with my boyfriend and some other people that I hadn't met before; I ended up having a great time and even knew the answers to some of the questions, shockingly enough (apparently that History of Greek Lit class is useful for something after all!). And on St. Patrick's Day, I started off the evening with one of my best friends and some people that she knew; afterwards, she went home so I went to another bar to see my other best friend with a group of his friends. I even persuaded some of them to join me on the dance floor. Then, when they all left, I met up with my sister and she promptly left me with her best friends brother- between avoiding a bar fight and engaging in discussion with his acquaintances, we ended up staying there until close!

I prefer not having one particular group of friends that I routinely spend my time with. I like this sort of lifestyle better- meeting new people all the time even while I'm with my close friends. There's so much to learn from others and I love to talk to people and hear their ideas and views. We all have something to offer someone else and new perspectives to share and consider.

Something else that I've never done before is gone to a movie by myself. So I'll have to do that soon. Has anyone else gone to movies by themselves? What about going out for lunch by yourself? I have yet to do that. But it's pretty important, and very healthy, to take some time for yourself like that.

Let me know if you've done belly dancing or any other kind of dancing (or some other more unusual sports)- I'd like to hear about your adventures (and which ones you've liked the best)!

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