Belly Dancing


I’ve been in a bit of a creative rut lately. My work days are filled with meetings and coaching sessions – and while those are wonderful, I’ve been missing the actual making part of what I do. Plus, I reserve lots of my energy for work and there’s just not a lot left to give on the evenings and weekends. I like to recharge by doing yoga, working out, going climbing, or cooking a new meal – but those things have become the norm. Lately I’ve been craving some sort of new hobby.

About a month ago, just before leaving for Mexico, I was craving some Indian buffet for dinner. As I was loading my plate with saag paneer and dahl I noticed a woman decked out in belly dancing gear loading up a to-go container with rice and tikka masala. I asked “Are you a belly dancer!?” She responded “Lord, I should hope so dressed like this.” I asked her where she practices and she gave me a card for a dance studio she works at. She told me intro classes were on Wednesdays at 6:30. I knew I was about to be out of the state for a month of travel but I promised to pop in for a class once I returned.

So I’m back – and this last Wednesday I finally made my way to the belly dancing studio with my friend Claire. We were greeted by the same dancer I met at the Indian buffet restaurant, sign in, and head to a mirrored room full of newbie belly dancers. The teacher is a proper English woman in her late fifites or early sixties. She’s decked out in a cream full body leotard layered with a black high cut leotard covering her torso – and of course she’s wearing leg warmers. She’s taking the students through a gentle warm-up and I think “this is legit.” She instructed us to tie a scarf around our waists and jump in. We spend the next hour shimmying our tight hips and learning a few basic belly dancing moves. And it was so. much. fun.

As we were leaving class Claire and I perused the elaborate costumes and jingly scarves available for sale in the lobby. I almost purchased a scarf but remembered that my mom has one that surely I can borrow. So here’s where I reveal that I grew up performing in the Medieval Fair with my mom and brother (you can read all about it on my sister’s blog here). It used to be my embarrassing secret but now I think it’s cool that I got to have such a fun childhood – and it’s what helped launched my brother’s career in the circus sideshow. Anyway, at some point my mom must have been some sort of gypsy belly dancing character because I’m positive she’s got some jingly scarves and finger chimes stored away. So this weekend I’ll be raiding my mom’s costume bin, watching YouTube videos of belly dancers (and Shakira, of course), and anxiously waiting to return to the studio next Wednesday.

Have you ever tried belly dancing? 

  1. adrienne

    Years {and years} ago, I took a belly dancing master class at a dance camp in Stage Center. She called herself Soraya{sp?} and wore a black leotard, covered in rhinestones. She looked like she was in her fifties and had giant, teased hair. It was fun, from what I remember. But, since the bulk of my training is in ballet, I was a little too rigid to be any good at it.

    • Soraya is the same teacher! She’s fantastic. My background is in imitating Beyonce so I’m loving it.

  2. Ffion

    I would love to try belly dancing sometime, it looks like so much fun 🙂 It’s definitely on my to-do list!

    Will you be signing up for a course?

    • There’s no sign-up, I suppose but I’m going to be going back for sure! I have about 8-10 weeks of intro classes before graduating into beginner classes. From there I can go into the more stylistic classes like hooping, gypsy, and tribal belly dancing.

  3. Never tried it, but it sounds like fun! I’ve always wanted to try ballet, to be honest, and I can’t wait to see if the university I work for starts up their free classes again in the fall. I wanted to try it last year, but it always seemed to fall on the evenings I was teaching! Timing just isn’t my thing, I guess!

    Have a good weekend!

    • Some of my favorite parts of taking modern dance in high school was the warm up – which is basically Pilates. So you might check out Pilates or Barre classes in your area too. But free ballet sounds super rad too!

  4. adrienne

    That’s crazy! I’m glad she’s still dancing! And yes, a background in Beyonce’ is a good foundation for some ass shakin’.

    • Claire also has a background in ballet. It turns out Soraya has a serious ballet background too. So no fear if you want to give it another go!

  5. adrienne

    I may have to! I’ve been taking a couple of ballet classes a week since January. I think her dance troupe was called Jewels of the Nile? I’m still floored that it’s her.

  6. I have had several belly dancing friends, and tried it a few times with a few different teachers. The movement type did not really capture my heart the way other dances do – even watching it, I usually don’t get into it. However, I have seen at least two belly dancers in Oklahoma that were world-changingly mesmerizing (to me) at their art. I took a few belly dance classes from one of them (Hope Schmerfeld – who, these days, teaches at Pole Zone) and could in no way do what she tried to teach me! It was a good challenge and interesting experience but I was quickly back to my other pursuits.

  7. Kristin

    I took lessons for many months–I LOVE belly dancing! As an equestrian, I found it improved my riding immensely by teaching me how to isolate parts of my body, and loosen my hips/pelvis. I can still undulate my stomach and shimmy, and do some of the simpler moves. I long to go back to it!

    20 minutes of snake arms a day will tone your arms like nobody’s business!

  8. I have always wanted to try it and never have. My family was seemingly the opposite of yours, my mom was afraid of the Renaissance Festival because she is afraid of people in costume. I grew up with a family way too inhibited to do anything a step outside of their comfort zones. I’d love to try belly dancing and I can’t wait to hear more about your adventure.

  9. Haven’t tried it yet, but I’ve always wanted to! Looks so fun, and I love the costumes.

  10. I did it and loved it! I loved it and felt so feminine and sexy 🙂

    Have so much fun at the Beyonce concert, I’m sure it will be amazing!!!

  11. Rachel

    I’ve been bellydancing for six years, and I love it! I love the costumes, the movements, the way all women are accepted, and I LOVE the music. I always feel energized when I shimmy, especially in front of an audience. It’s such a fun way to connect with people. I hope that you continue to enjoy it!

  12. I have always wanted to try this! It seems so freeing and like such a good way to appreciate your own body, no matter how you feel about the way it looks.

    • It appears as if belly dancers of all sizes have pretty killer body image! I love it.

  13. Jennie

    I bellydance!!! I am obsessed! It really has helped with supporting my self esteem through wearing the great costumes and learning the different isolation’s have been an amazing mental challenge for knowing what muscles to move physically -if that even makes sense. The studio I go to has an amazing sisterhood also.

    Also.. catching up on reading your blog, haven’t in a while but always inspiring:) .

    • The isolated movements are so incredible. I can’t wait to learn more.

      Welcome back! I hope you’re liking the new look!

  14. Melanie Barfield

    I’m so stoked you tried belly dancing! I’m a belly dance instructor in Lawton and I know exactly who took your classes from…what a small world!

    I am also just getting back to reading your blog. You might not remember, but we were sort ‘e-introduced’ via Facebook by a mutual friend, Chelsey.

    Anywho – keep shakin’ it! 🙂 Belly dancing is also great for mothers-to-be…it’s supposed to make child birth a little more bearable 🙂

    • Of course I remember you, Melanie! I’m addicted to belly dancing! I love it so much. I need to practice between my weekly classes.

  15. Melanie Barfield

    Cool! I’m glad you’re enjoying it! That’s a great place to learn…sometimes they have workshops and shows too! They put on a great show in January with the Bellydance Superstars….that’s always fun to go to.

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