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Belly Dance Observed

            I found myself in an unlikely situation when my grandmother asked me if I would like to accompany her to a Belly Dance class. To anyone on the street, hearing this from a white American female in her mid 60's would have to look twice, unless they had met my free spirited family. Though I did have to decline participating because of minor surgery I had the honor of sitting in on one of her classes.

            Upon my arrival at The Dancing Spirit Studio my eyes were bombarded with an array of colors and beautiful paintings. Gorgeous multi colored rugs, long flowing veils and bangled hip scarves for   students to decorate themselves with added color and definition to the room. This flare had a clear origin. The teacher, introduced as Barbara, appeared in vibrantly colored dance costume , flowers adorning her hair. When asked if I would be able to watch she responded, “If you can walk, you can dance!” She said  “ No one is ever allowed to watch class because if you don’t dance you can’t feel the movements”. She put a hip scarf in my lap, a veil in my arms and encouraged me to participate with my arms whenever I could.

            The dancing was brilliant and is clearly misunderstood by the majority of Americans who seem to believe that Belly Dance is straight from the brothels of India. In this case, ignorance is not bliss. Belly Dance is clearly a wonderful dance form.

           This type of Ethnic dance requires a fine technique that accentuates the subtleties of the human body and is also a great way to work out. Belly Dance is not about thrusts and jives like Swing and Tango but is about moving the body in slow subtle motions when blended together can be an amazing form of art and self expression.

           Belly Dance vocabulary is known for specific movements such as an isolated hip drop or a shimmy. Belly Dancers are recognized by proud posture, flair, a certain larger than life attitude which is required to create a dramatic vision .The contrast of graceful rhythmical subtlety and control   combined with the earthiness in their step creates quite a show.

          With Barb's enthusiasm and instruction the class of women, different ages, not spring chickens, accept for one, were full throttle dancing and full of life. During class it was mentioned that students are dancing from aged 10 up thru 60 something. Everyone dances together and students are traveling to the studio from all over RI, Mass. and even from Connecticut

          Twinkle-toed Americans struggle with strong, rhythmical foot stomping combined with soft knees which makes the dance graceful and the proud posture that it takes to feel the ground with every step expressing interpretations of the world music.

           Belly Dance is one of the finer expressions of what nature is: real and yet subtle. With each stomp of the foot the observer can see as well as hear the realness of the earth beneath the dancers feet. With each flip of the hand or twirl of the scarf the observer can see gracefulness and beauty. With each small but strong movement the observer begins to understand the more subtle things—the curves of a flowers petals or the feel of a slight breeze in the summer.

          To truly understand the feel and beat of the art of Belly Dance one must get up and try it. Through the dance become one with nature for a brief earth thumping totally alive moments. Where better to try it than with Barb at the Dancing Spirit Studio. “If you can walk, you can dance!”

            Up coming events. This Saturday, July 21 all are invited to enjoy a Free Belly Dance Show of many different styles at The Tiverton Four Corners Artisans Festival from 3 – 4. The Dancing Spirit Studio RI Belly Dance Community  will perform in Group, Solos, Duets, Trios with Veils, Swords, Skirts, Flamenco and more on a great lawn. On Aug 18 Barb will lead a Tiverton Library Red Tent Event dancing fundraiser.  In Sept, 13 - 16 The Studio will be sharing the dance with SOAH, Singing Out against Hunger

            Visit The Studio 1759 Main Rd find a card in a box on the bench out side the orange door or visit The Bank of Newport across the street where Barb has created a display table of posters, books, cards, and costumes which are there through Aug.

 Dani  Matern          


If you can walk, you can danceIf you can walk, you can dance