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Belly Dancing!

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Old 07-23-2004, 09:52 AM   #1
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Default Belly Dancing!

Hello everyone!
This thread is for those who do some form of belly dancing as exercise! We welcome anyone who has an interest in this dance-from someone who does a belly dance beginning fitness video in their living room to the seasoned dancer who performs and dances with swords, snakes, and fire! (Just joking...or AM I? )

I am going to start out this thread with a bit of an introduction of myself, as well as a sort of "primer" for belly dance "newbies." Here goes!

I started belly dancing about 3 years ago with some beginning fitness videos at home, and I soon grew more interested and hungry for information than the mainstream belly dance fitness videos at the area stores could provide. I set out in search of an instructor in my area-and found one within a 30 minute drive. I have been dancing under her instruction for over a year and a half now-and went from a student in her beginning class to a student in her 4th level (advanced) class and one of the dancers performing in her troupe. I have performed at various festivals and cultural events, and have taken workshops with some awesome instructors from all over. I dance with veils, finger cymbals, and perform sword balancing. I am currently on the brink of learning a new trade-doing double sword balancing-I am just waiting for my new set of matching scimitars to come in. I have been trained in various types of belly dance-Egyptian and Turkish Cabaret, North African, dances from India, gypsy, and American Tribal Style.

On the fitness end of things-I dance in 2-1 hour classes each week, and practice at home for 30-45 minutes twice a week religiously. I may do more than that if there is an upcoming performance. Along with my belly dancing I round out my fitness routine with a little extra cardio, and strength training 3 days a week!

The amazing thing to me about the belly dancing experience in relation to fitness...is that in the weight I have lost in the past 2 years...the most amazing change is the 7" that has melted off my abs and waistline. Belly dancing works!

Now I am going to give sort of a beginning "primer" to those wanting to get involved in belly dancing-so you become more familiar with terms, videos, etc.

Belly Dance Beginning Fitness Videos

If you are interested in belly dancing at home for fitness-here are a rundown of a few vids I recommend to get you started:

BellyDance Fitness For Beginners Basic Moves-this is a 30 minute video by Veena and Neena Bidasha-and it is complete with a warm-up and cool down. It goes over some of the belly dance beginning moves and basics-such as hip circles, shoulder shimmies, and snake arms. It is slow and repetitive-and starts the moves at a very slow pace-and then speeds up in increments so you can "get" the move.

BellyDance Fitness For Beginners Slim Down-Of the two cardio vids Veena and Neena have out (Fat Burning is the other) I like this one best. It incorporates cardio moves with belly dance "intervals." The Fat Burning is more Middle Eastern Folk dancing the entire time...and it is "boring." It alternates the cardio moves with hip movements, chest isolations, and arm movements.

Magical Motion with Atea-This is a video from the 80's...so the hair, makeup and costume styles may be a little outdated-but the information and teachings here is very solid. It goes a little deeper into learning belly dance moves...and also touches lightly on finger cymbals and veils, and costuming.

These are videos that I highly recommend to start with...as you gain basic knowledge of the dance-then there will be discussions of other videos, teachings, and props throughout the thread.

Looking to take classes in your area? Check and see if there is an instructor in your area! There is an instructor directory at this site:

www.shira.net

(This is a great website that also has tons of information about costumes, music, videos, and other belly dance stuff.)

Have a video that requires a veil? (There are many that do!) You can make a veil suitable for dancing out of 3 yards of chiffon fabric-just hem the raw edges. It is very easy.

Cabaret or American Tribal Style?

You will find that most mainstream belly dance fitness videos are cabaret style belly dance-meaning, what you traditionally think of when you think of a belly dancer-a glittery bra top and fancy skirt...a flirtatious attitude...dancing with veils...but there is also another style called American Tribal. Videos aimed at the more seasoned dancer can be one or the other.

American Tribal style differs from cabaret in the fact that it is always danced as a "group" or tribe. The costumes are more earthy-with antique jewelry instead of sequins, and the dancers often dance to more tribal type of music and live drummers...and they often wear exotic tribal tattoos on their faces and such during performances. If you are interested in seeing more about American Tribal Style Belly Dance-check out:

www.fcbd.com

Come on in and post! Are you taking classes, or doing belly dance in your living room for exercise only? How do you like it? What are your goals with it in relation to fitness?

Bellydance is one of the most enjoyable forms of physical activity that I have ever done...and starting classes was the greatest thing I think I have ever given myself!

Aphil
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Old 07-23-2004, 11:26 AM   #2
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Hello Aphil,

I am most definately NOT in your league! LOL I am certainly FARRR FARRRRR away from where you are with your dancing! I discovered "belly dancing as exercise" last fall and well....I've got to admit that I've been intrigued by this form of dance since I saw a belly dancer perform for my grandfather on his 80th birthday when I was a teenager! So... (beganing my "journey" weighing over 215.5 pounds)I purchased the Veena and Neena "Bellydance:Fitness for Beginners: Slim Down" tape for several reasons. Belly:got that! 30 minutes:gotta love THAT! Something different:totally exotic here in my rural little part of the world!

I have to wait until nearly midnight....with the shades drawn tight...the dh snoring loudly (so I can hear if he wakes up!) AND the two ds sleeping with doors barred again so I can hear any movement! I do NOT need to hear their helpful hints about THIS tape and my ability (or lack there of!) They are supportive of my efforts but have laughed like crazy at just the tape BOX and have ASKED to see me do this tape! Not even a MAYBE, yet!!!!! Anyway. I enjoy the tape especiall when I know that I'm alone with Veena and Neena! I enjoy attempting the movements. Notice the word attempt! This is a big feat for someone who owns NO abs since childbirth!

The story of my "journey" has a lot of bumps in it. I have just returned to making a consistent effort with my eating and exercising! (I do a variety of other tapes too! I also do WW at home..aloneeeee!) I'm excited to find a support for this form of exercise! I'm not too sure that I'm the sort of "dancer" that you were hoping to attract with this thread....BUT.... here I am! LOL and I'll be back! hehehee!

take care,
Robyn (215.5+ / 187 / 150 ) (HatterasMermaid at 3fc!)
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Old 07-23-2004, 12:36 PM   #3
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No-you are exactly the type of dancer I was hoping to attract! I want to hear from everyone enjoying belly dancing as a form of exercise. I started out at exactly the same place that you did...2 years ago I was 211 pounds and a size 20...and I had started doing it lightly with videos like Veena and Neena.
I totally realize that not everyone has an instructor nearby...and not everyone wants to perform someday-but it is not a "mainstream" fitness activity like walking-and I thought we could use a thread for it here!
So if you are doing it in your living room...or doing it in front of an audience-you are at home here! If you ever have any questions about any method or move-feel free to ask me or Mauvaisroux-who should be making an appearance shortly on this thread-as she takes professional lessons as well.
Stick with it...it does wonders for the body...and the spirit at the same time!
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Old 07-23-2004, 01:40 PM   #4
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I responded in another thread at some point... I would like to take at least one lesson (to see if I like it as much as I think I will!), but I live in NYC, and I'm nervous about finding a teacher who is "size-friendly." I know that's pathetic, but I know I won't keep up with it if I'm not comfortable.

Maybe I'll try one of the vids you recommended first!
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Old 07-23-2004, 04:43 PM   #5
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Belly dancing is very size friendly in general actually...belly dancing was traditionally done by women for other women during celebrations and family events. (Get that silly picture of women in the harem dancing for the sultan OUT of your minds! )
It is done traditionally by women of all shapes and sizes, and all ages! There are MANY professional belly dancers who are women of size...PLEASE do not let this discourage you! Some of the best performers I have ever seen are women of size.
Check out the instructor directory...contact a local instructor-I am sure that she will ease your fears. The women in the classes I attend are ages 17-mid 60's...and from 95 pounds to almost 300!
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Old 07-23-2004, 05:38 PM   #6
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OMG!!!! you CAN'T imagine how timely this is, aphil!!!!! at the beginning of the month, a girlfriend and i who share a b-day went to celebrate ourselves, and we decided to go to the local moroccan restaurant. well, it turns out that they have a monthly LADIES NIGHT. and there we were!!!!!

so picture this: all those nice comfy banquettes with all the cushions. those little gold-colored etched tables. mirrors and scarves and artifacts everywhere. and clustered around those little tables are about 5 groups of women of all ages - from a pair of 12 year olds [with a couple of friends and their mothers and aunts] to a few who were not younger than 55.

and no men

and at 9 pm, a beautifully dressed belly dancer appeared - with sword. and some of the women got up and danced with her.. and a few could actually ululate [very strange sound, by the way]

and then EVERYONE [with two exceptions - can you guess who????] got up and danced!!!!!

and i looked at my friend, and said hmmmmm. i'd been thinking about taking up kayaking, but maybe belly dancing would be fun... and there it sits. weighing belly dancing on one hand and kayaking on the other.

i'll keep reading this thread. maybe i'll get inspired!!!!!!
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Old 07-24-2004, 10:59 AM   #7
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ahhh, shucks....that idea of dancing for "my" sultan was what was keeping me trying that hip lift! just kidding! I enjoy "doing" the tape with Veena and Neena. Teapot and JiffyPop, you've gotta try the video at the very least!

I do wish that the video was more like other exercise tapes by showing the moves from head to toe. What I mean is... I can't see what their feet are doing at times. Veena and Neena (V&N from here on out!) have such exotic hands and arms. I certainly don't have a darn part of me that qualifies for exotic (hehe) AND I'm far from owning "dancer arms" (or hands for that matter!) but I do give it my all when I'm dancing! LOL More along the lines of Disco Duck than anything exotic.... but well... I do work up a sweat!

I can NOT imagine doing "my dance" with anyone! LET alone someone who REALLY knows what she is doing! BUT the thought of finding someone to show me what to REALLY do is sooooo intriguing! Aphil, your statistics being so close to mine add to the intrigue! I will definately be spending time following the links from the first post! Who knows, I may end up being a BellyDancingFirstGradeTeacher. THAT should liven up my PTA meetings! hehehehee Thanks for the encouragment and information!

Jiffypop and Teapot.... You must find a copy of the videos and try it out. While I've never tried kayaking, I've certainly enjoyed my late night dance sessions with V&N!
I've gotten sweaty...but never close to drowning! (The thought of getting in a kayak scares the sweetbejjeeeezums out of me!) Lifting my hips on land is much more my speed! Jiffypop..... next time in that restraunt...video or kayak or not...You've gotta dance! No matter! Let loose girl! Dance like no one is watching!

til next time.
ya'll take care!
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Old 07-24-2004, 10:50 PM   #8
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oh my... you ARE inspiring, hatteras.. sooo teapot.. i will if you will

oh dear. <deep breath> a trip to a video store???
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Old 07-25-2004, 03:58 AM   #9
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Jiffypop,

Were you inspired by the *VISON* of my PTA meetings? Or my DiscoDuckBellyDancing?! Cause they are both *VERY*VERY* inspiring visions! Perhaps it was my near death at the thought of stepping a toe in a kayak! Whatever caused your inpiration....get yourself to Target! That is where I got my V&N video! And it was less than in expensive! It was down right CHEAP! Gotta love a tape that doesn't cost you an arm (you'll need those to dance!) and a leg (AGAIN...you're gonna need THAT!)

You must let me know how this turns out! (AND...I've decided many things about life while on my "journey"...one of which issssss that I'm never EVER going to be the one sitting watching others dance EVER again! Big, little (hahaha!) or inbetween! I'm gonna dance, sing and enjoy life! Well...except my family watching me and the belly dancing tapes....OK...so I've got the idea...I just can't quite LIVE it! I'm getting there! )

take care!
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Old 07-25-2004, 04:41 PM   #10
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I think I may join you bellydancing ladies. I went to the Best Buy yesterday to see if they happened to have any of the bellydancing dvds. They didn't. I just wanted to check before I ordered from Amazon as I am usually impatient when I want to try something new. I am going to go check a couple other places today while I am out as well.

My gym actually offers a once a week, hour long bellydancing class. It costs extra and I keep forgetting to ask how much but the class is kind of on the wrong day for me right now. I just wanted something kind of entertaining to do at home. Since I have been doing mostly weight lifting for the past couple months, I have recently started adding some various cardio activities to my routine and I think this might do well for a once or twice a week activity.
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Old 07-25-2004, 06:32 PM   #11
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<Deep breath> I'm in if you're in, Jif. I'm gonna get this next week sometime. They have the vids on Amazon, btw!

I went to this huge party last night where they were playing some Middle Eastern music, and i kept grinning, thinking to myself, "Soon I will know how to dance to you, lovely Middle Eastern music."

Woo hoo! Thanks for the encouragement, Aphil! Maybe soon I will also work up the courage to take that class!
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Old 07-25-2004, 08:08 PM   #12
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Hey girls!! I was wondering if you can recommend some good beginner belly dance videos? I would love to try this! Although my belly has no problem "dancing" on its own lol. Any suggestions would be great!

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Old 07-25-2004, 09:47 PM   #13
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Michelle, the first message in this post has some recommendations. I did a look through on amazon and I'm going to buy the ones by Neena and Veena. I didn't have any luck at the store finding any bellydancing videos, they were all pilates or yoga so I'm going to order today from amazon.
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Old 07-25-2004, 10:01 PM   #14
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OMG LMAO!!! I guess it would help if I didn't forget what I read by time I replied lol!! Yikes hope this isn't early onset alzheimers lol. Thanks nelie forgive my airheadedness
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Old 07-25-2004, 11:12 PM   #15
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Thanks for starting this thread Aphil!

I have been taking lessons for about 3.5 years now and I love it!

I do cabaret style or Egyptian style as opposed to folkloric. So far I have performed in public on several occasions and once on television.

One of the nice things about bellydancing is that you don't have to be an athlete to do it. There have been women of every shape, size, height, weight and age in the classes that I have taken. You don't need any special equipment or exercise gear to do it. This is one class that I have stuck to since I enjoy the workout I get as well as learning something new.

I find it also gives many women more self confidence and makes them feel more comfortable with their bodies. I wish I had discovered bellydancing in high school!

I always feel energized and invigorated after dancing but I also feel like my mind is relaxed since I have to focus on movement and music rather than the other million things going on in my head - it is great stress relief

I am one of those people whose weight is mostly in their lower body and it is difficult for me to lose there but by bellydancing twice a week I have actually lost a few inches off my hips

For beginner's I would recommend wearing yoga pants or leggings with a t-shirt or sport tank - whatever you are most comfortable in- or one of those krinkle flowing Indian cotton skirts and a t-shirt. Add a pretty scarf or shawl tied around your hips and presto you are ready to go!

Most people dance in barefeet in the dance classes but some wear those inexpensive Chinese slippers or gymnastic shoes which I would recommend if you are dancing on your living room carpet so you don't get rug burn on your soles

I have the Neena and Veena exercise tapes and the Goddess Workout which are nice but I prefer the N&V ones.
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