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Sway like papyrus, flow like the Nile
Do you want to sway like papyrus in the breeze, or shimmy like a snake? Belly dancing is a feel-good dance that allows you a glimpse of a wholly different and exotic culture. Be warned, it is not just about wearing scanty costumes and flashing your belly button, it is about learning to love and move with the sensuous and feminine part of your nature.
Raqs sharqi, beledi or belly dance is an ancient dance form that has its roots in village and tribal life. It is a dance that can be undertaken by all women of all ages and all abilities. It can be fun and funky at times, but also earthy and sensuous.
I teach beginners' classes through the adult education services in Penrith and the Eden Valley.
When my teaching career was new I felt that working through the Adult Education system of evening classes gave a greater sense of security for both the students and myself. Having the infrastructure of the Adult Ed. centres for support is a real boon for both teacher and student:
Rita's Regular Classes
The Appleby class meets at the sports Centre located in the grounds of the Grammar School. At first the ladies were worried that people could see into the gallery room from the badminton courts. Now they no longer care and stand at the windows practicing undetectable shimmies, delighting in the fact no one can tell what's going on below their waists!
At Penrith we work in the drama room of Ullswater College and this is a black painted room with black blinds. It sounds depressing, but it has a Zen-like restfulness to it and a real air of privacy which has made the Penrith ladies much more carefree about performing in front of each other.
Kirkby Stephen and Shap adult Ed. centres want to run courses in September, but we need to see if the take-up is there. If you're thinking about it, come along and have a try. I'm looking forward to new venues and new faces.
What can I expect in a class?
You don't have to be proficient in dance to have a go. It can be practised by individuals at almost all levels of physical ability. This dance levels the playing field: Those at the top of their form might find themselves challenged by physical movements not ordinarily used in western dance, and might just find themselves back in the beginner category.
Courses usually run in ten week sessions over term time (the exception is newton Rigg which is a 4-week course). Each class will last 2 hours, and follow a regime of:
warm up, dance technique, learning and dancing a choreography, and cool down.
For beginners, a lot of time is spent on stretching and loosening the joints and muscles that are not generally used in western dance and exercise. A significant amount of time will be taken getting the class used to working with Middle Eastern music. Each class will look at a specific move or element of technique and then work on a fun and short choreography.
It is intended that students will gain a better understanding of this dance and recognise that, like any other dance form, belly-dancing is a discipline to be learned and followed. It is also hoped that the student will lose any of the misconceptions that surround belly dancing. I also expect the student to come away feeling more self-confident. This is a feel-good dance and I want my students to feel good.
You do not need any special equipment or kit unless you choose it. In the first instance you need a scarf or shawl to tie around your hips. You will also need non-slip socks, slippers or bare feet. You need only wear comfortable clothing that does not restrict your movement (I do not advise wearing jeans). As you grow into the dance you may find you want to purchase hips scarves and coin belts or even full costumes!
(students lying down on the job!)
If you have any questions about classes contact me on: firstname.lastname@example.org
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