Belly Dance FAQs
Given the aura of mystery and exotica that surrounds the art form, I’ve found that most people have a lot of questions with respect to belly dance. So I decided to compile and answer them all in one place. Presenting, Belly Dance FAQs with Bombay Bellyrina!
Here are some of the most frequently asked ones:
Q: Belly dance is an Arabian dance, right?
A: Yes and no. The Arab nations are amongst the birthplaces of belly dance, but the art in itself has no singular point of origin. Roots have been traced back to the Incas of South America, the Egyptian pharaohs, Greek temple priestesses, Oriental geishas, African tribes and yes, even Rajasthan in India!
Q: Don’t you need to be Egyptian or Russian to belly dance?
A: Amongst the most renowned and revered belly dancers in the world are tribal dancer Rachel Brice, and the mind-boggling duo of Sadie & Kaya. All three are purebred Americans. Some of the best tribal belly dance in the world can be witnessed performed by the women of the Banjara tribe in Rajasthan. Shakira is Hispanic. Beyonce is African-American. Rihanna is from Barbados.
And if you’re still in doubt, you’re welcome to come watch a class in progress. I assure you, it’ll allay all doubt as to whether or not Indians can belly dance!
Q: “But I’m not as hot as Shakira. Not even close. I’m overweight. Can I belly dance?”
A: Belly dance doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t matter if you’re 4 foot nothing, or whether you’re 6 and a half feet tall. You could be as thin as a grasshopper, or be divinely voluptuous. You could be light-skinned or dusky, fair-haired or brunette. Belly dance isn’t about how you look, it’s all about how you feel. The only prerequisite is to want to dance.
Q: What’s the age limit for belly dancing?
A: Age limit?? Who said anything about an age limit?! Anybody from the age of 4 upwards can learn to belly dance. One student was so excited about learning the dance, that she signed her 6-yr old daughter up for classes as well. Another has joined along with her 70-plus mother.
Q: How do I know if I’m fit enough to belly dance?
A: Now this is an important topic. Although belly dancing is rather low-impact, it’s high-intensity. If you suffer from orthopaedic conditions like weak knees or a bad back etc, do make it a point to inform your instructor of the same. She will ensure that your routine is altered to cause you least discomfort. In case you suffer from any chronic/ acute conditions (diabetes, cardiac trouble, etc), it is advised that you consult your doctor before proceeding with this or any other dance regime.
Belly dance is also an excellent form of pre- and post-natal exercise (as I’ve mentioned in this post). However, in this case as well, it is mandatory to receive clearance from your gynaecologist/ obstetrician before beginning the program.
Q: What are the benefits of belly dance?
A: Improved posture. Increased confidence. Grace. Sensuality. Toned and stronger muscles. Relief from muscle cramps and discomfort.
Not to mention a dash of envy from some of your friends!
Q: Sounds tempting. So how long before I can dance with a sword on my hip?
A: Whoa there, honey! The swords make their entrance a lot later, and is only for very seasoned dancers. It’s imperative to have your basic isolations and maneuvers down pat before any of the balancing acts. Mastering your muscles can take anywhere between 3 months to a year. And not even the fastest learner is handed a sword before she’s been dancing atleast 2 years.
But as far as putting on an impressive performance and having a few eyeballs pop out of their sockets goes, it usually takes a minimum of 6 to 8 months. It’s important to remember though, that you cannot and ought not put a timeline to learning belly dance if you’re serious about it. A universally agreed-upon estimate to completely master the form is no less than 15 years!
Q: What sort of music should I be practising to?
A: This is probably one of the most commonly asked questions in belly dance FAQs, and my answer never changes. You can belly dance to any music. That’s right, any music! Fast, slow, happy, dramatic — it depends on what your soul connects to, and your level of proficiency (as far as tempo goes). Personally, I play a very varied selection in my classes. You’ll here some Linkin Park, maybe some Moby, even a little Skrillex sometimes! 🙂 Like I said, any music.
You can read more about my thoughts on this in this post.
Q: Are there any precautions/ preparations I need to keep in mind?
A: 1) Dress comfortably. There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to shimmy in denims. Ideally, wear loose cotton pants and a tee. Gymwear is also acceptable. The key is to wear something that allows you freedom of movement.
2) We dance barefoot. Socks are optional, but not advised as they may affect your balance and footwork. Initially, your feet may feel a little tense and cramped. This is nothing to fret about; soak them in some warm water for a while and they should be back to normal.
3) Always ensure you warm up and stretch properly before and after every session to prevent muscle pulls and cramps.
4) Relax, and enjoy yourself. Remember, this is a dance class. You’re not being graded, there are no exams, nothing. You’re there to dance. To connect with the music.
Breathe. Smile. Have fun.
Have more questions to add to my belly dance FAQs? Let me know in the comments and I’ll be sure to answer them!