Belly Laughs by ert554898


                                                                                   UST STEPS BELOW STREET LEVEL ON GEORGIA                              low-impact movements focused
                                                                                                                                                        in the torso, hips and arms. At
                                                                                   AVENUE IN CHATTANOOGA, TENN. IS A SUR-                               Zanzibar Studio, Perkins focuses
                                                                                                                                                        on helping her students develop
                                                                                   PRISING OASIS—BRICK WALLS PAINTED IN                                 a positive body image, creating a
                                                                                                                                                        supportive group dynamic and
                                                                             WARM GOLDS, MIRROR-LINED WALLS, COLORFUL

                                                                                                                                                        increasing strength and flexibility
                                                                             INDIAN FABRICS OF FUSCHIA AND ORANGE PEPPERED                              while introducing technique and
                                                                                                                                                        simple combinations. A variety of
                                                                             WITH TWINKLE LIGHTS DRAPE THE CEILINGS, THE                                classes are open to students of all
                                                                                                                                                        ages and body types and no pre-
           By Adrienne Foley                                                 AROMA OF SOOTHING CANDLES AND THE SOUND OF                                 vious dance experience is neces-
                                                                                                                                                        sary. More advanced students
                                                                             DRUMS AND FINGER CYMBALS FILL THE AIR. This oasis
                                                                                                                                                        work with finger cymbals or zils,
                                                                             is Zanzibar Studio and Boutique, where women of all                        veils and balancing swords on
                                                                                                                                                        their heads.
                                                                             ages file in at the end of a day, remove their shoes and                      During her classes, Perkins
                                                                                                                                                        takes students through a thor-
                                                                             don scarves around their head, form fitting tank tops,                     ough yoga-like warm-up before
                                                                                                                                                        teaching various routines and
                                                                             loose skirts over their hips and jingly coin sashes around
                                                                                                                                                        ends with a relaxing taqseem or
                                                                             their waists. Quietly and quickly, they transform them-                    cool-down. As with any exercise,
                                                                                                                                                        she says the difficulty level of the
                                                                             selves from businesswoman, college student or grand-                       class completely depends on the
                                                                                                                                                        amount of effort a person is will-
                                                                             mother to students of one of the oldest forms of known                     ing to put into it.
                                                                                                                                                           “It can be a walk in the park or
                                                                             dance still practiced today—belly dance.
                                                                                                                                                        a total body workout that leaves
                                                                                                                                                        you dripping in sweat and sore all
                                                                                “Basically, as long as there      enticed Susan Yates to take her       over the next day. The bottom
                                                                             have been women there has been       first class with Andrea in 2003.      line is that belly dance is a killer
                                                                             such dancing in one form or             “I’ve been dancing since           core muscle workout,” she says.
                                                                             another,” says Andrea Perkins,       Andrea came to town,” says            “We get a lot of students who are
                                                                             instructor and owner of Zanzibar.    Yates, an artist in her 50s who       marathon runners, weight lifters,
                                                                             While difficult to trace to a spe-   now helps Perkins teach begin-        and other types of athletes who
                                                                             cific source, historians believe     ning classes. “I’ve always liked to   come to class on the first day
                                                                             that belly dance originated          dance and I’ve always thought         thinking belly dance is going to
                                                                             among the devadassi (temple          the music was fabulous. Now I         be so easy and are amazed by the
                                                                             dancers) of Northern India. In       belly dance to anything – from        workout they get.”
                                                                             the United States, belly dance can   Lyle Lovett to Mark Knopfler to          Perkins, who has studied
                                                                             be traced back to the Chicago        Peter Gabriel. Belly dancing has      Middle Eastern dance since she
                                                                             World’s Fair in 1893.                really changed my life.”              was 15 years old, says belly dance
                                                                                “Belly dance is many things to       Elaine Hill, 68, of Signal         increases flexibility, especially in
                                                                             many people,” says Perkins. “At      Mountain, Tenn., agrees. “Belly       the hips and spine, and is aero-
                                                                             Zanzibar, belly dance is about       dancing was completely new to         bic, thereby increasing a person’s
                                                                             embracing the body and being         me,” she says. “I seek exercise and   stamina.
                                                                             comfortable in our own skin no       I thought of this as another way         “Additionally, belly dance
                                                                             matter what our size, shape or       to get exercise. It’s really a mix-   sculpts the body, develops mus-
                                                                             age. It is about celebrating our     ture of exercise and choreogra-       cles you don’t even know you
                                                                             uniqueness and power as              phy. You truly work from the tips     have, and increases self-esteem
                                                                             women. We don’t have to look         of your toes and the tips of your     and confidence. Students always
                                                                             like models in magazines in          fingers during the class.”            tell us that after taking belly
                                                                             order to radiate mystique, beauty       While certainly an expression      dance, they walk down the street
                                                                             and sensuality.”                     of sensuality, belly dance is a       with more grace, their heads held
                 Elaine Hill, Zanzibar Owner Andrea Perkins
                                                                                It’s this philosophy that         dance of isolation that provides      high.”
                                and Susan Yates

           6&7    S t e r l i n g S o u t h e a s t Vo l u m e 7 , N o . 1                                                                                                       CONTINUE   >
       Diane Thompson, 62, of                        “In the United States, most people       are empowering to women. “Belly
    Chickamauga, Ga., has taken belly                associate belly dance with Cabaret       dancing gives you a deep aware-                        PERSONAL GROWTH COACHING
    dance lessons for nearly a year and
    says her husband has made this
                                                     style, which is what they often see
                                                     in Greek or Middle Eastern restau-
                                                                                              ness of your ‘center,’ allowing you
                                                                                              to move through life in a calm
                                                                                                                                                     MIMI STEWART, CPCC
    same observation. “He picks me up                rants.”                                  and centered way with grace and
    after class and has commented                        Tribal style belly dance is an       energy,” she says. “As women, we
    before that he can see a difference              American fusion that blends folk         shouldn’t be afraid to embrace          The circle in the middle represents you.
    when the ladies leave. He says they              dances from Asia, India, the             and celebrate our feminine
    look happy and more confident.”                  Middle East, North Africa and            power. Belly dance helps us affirm
                                                                                                                                              Which way will you go?
       There are two distinct styles of              Spain. Tribal style is generally per-    and reclaim our femininity. It also
    belly dance. Cabaret style belly
    dance is a solo dance that origi-
    nated in the Middle East and still
                                                     formed in groups and the costum-
                                                     ing is rich and layered, consisting of
                                                     silky pantaloons, full skirts and cho-
                                                                                              helps us learn to love and respect
                                                                                              our bodies, no matter what our
                                                                                              dress size, age, etc.:”
    flourishes in Cairo. “Cabaret cos-               lis (tight-fitting blouse or bodice).
    tuming consists of beaded and                        While Perkins trains her stu-        “Belly dance is many
    sequined bras and belts with                     dents in the tribal or group style of    things to many people,”
    diaphanous skirts,” says Perkins.                belly dance, she says both styles
                                                                                              says Perkins. “At Zanzibar,
                                                                                              belly dance is about
Warning: Belly dance is very liberating. It may                                               embracing the body and
even change your life. —                                               being comfortable in our
                                                                                              own skin no matter what
Health Benefits of Belly Dance                                                                our size, shape or age.”
    Many people are surprised to learn that Middle-Eastern
    dance, commonly known as belly dance, involves much                                          Yates finds the entire experi-
    more than the belly! In fact, belly dance can benefit                                     ence of belly dancing rewarding
    many parts of the body. Here are some of the health                                       on many levels. “Emotionally, it’s
    benefits of Middle Eastern dance:                                                         wonderful. You really get in touch

➾   Exercising the carrying muscles without impact. A belly dancer
    uses her quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes to hold her steady
    as she performs hip movements or travels smoothly across
                                                                                              with your inner core,” she says.
                                                                                              “It’s very grounding for me. I feel
                                                                                              energy from the earth coming up
                                                                                              through my body, and I’m using
    the floor. However, even though she gets a great lower-body
    workout, the amount of impact to her knees and ankles is                                  muscles I never knew I had. I real-
    minimal. Impact is measured not only by how hard our feet                                 ly encourage women I meet to try
    strike the ground, but by how much stress is placed on our joints.                        the classes.”
    Using this measure, most of Middle Eastern dance is considered                               Having had a total hip replace-
    non-impact; some tribal and folk dances are low-impact.                                   ment, Hill questioned whether or

➾   Building the back muscles evenly. Belly dancers use their torsos a
    lot—much more than ballet, modern or tap dancers. Only jazz
    dancers come close to our use of rib movements and undulations. These
                                                                                              not she could take the class.
                                                                                              “Andrea invited me to come and
                                                                                              see what I could do,” she says.
                                                                                              “Because belly dancing is low
    movements, coupled with shoulder movements, exercise the back muscles,
    and they exercise the muscles evenly. Strong back muscles prevent back                    impact, it’s good exercise for the
    injuries, and they promote good posture as well.                                          muscles. There are some move-

➾   Exercising the arms. New belly dance students are always surprised by
    much they have to use their arm muscles. Belly dancers have to hold their
    arms up for long periods of time, and it actually takes quite a lot of strength
                                                                                              ments I modify but overall it’s
                                                                                              great. The dance is all about isolat-
                                                                                               ing the body and that is beneficial
                                                                                                on spiritual, social and emotion-
    to perform arm movements slowly and gracefully.

                                                                                                 al levels. I think belly dancing
    Aiding digestion. It's true! Exercising the abdominal area, not just by rolling                gives poise and self-assurance
    the belly, but also by swaying the torso, helps food move along the digestive                    that I think are really impor-
    system. Any form of exercise will have this effect to some degree, but belly                       tant, especially to older
    dance is especially good for this purpose.                                                           women, in maintaining
    Source:                                                                      their confidence.”

    8&9    S t e r l i n g S o u t h e a s t Vo l u m e 7 , N o . 1

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