For several years now, friends and acquaintances of mine have asked that I create a dance class that can accommodate women with limited dancing abilities and relatively senior bodies. As I have struggled with increasingly ridged joints myself, I sympathized. I have had to drop out of a number of bellydance classes because it simply hurt too much to do the work. I know, I know…modify. But there is only so much modification you can do before you are doing an entirely different routine than the one the teacher is presenting. I wholeheartedly appreciate the core-strengthening value of a rigorous syllabus, and 20 years ago I’d have been all over that. But I have different needs now, and so do many of my friends. So, here it is, ladies: Bellydance For the Rest of Us.
We will learn the fundamentals of bellydance: shimmies, hip lifts and drops, choo choos, Arabics, Egyptians, and various other basic movements. While a certain amount of drilling (repetitions of specific techniques) is necessary, I hope this to be a stress-free practice. My main intention is simply to get women moving together in time. That alone is powerful enough to engender confidence and collective joy.
I think often of this description (fanciful or otherwise) of women dancing:
“Speaking only from personal experience, during lunch hours in the gym, we girls danced with each other in the middle of the basketball court, while the boys careened and vied around us. Girls were taught to dance by other girls, boys learned to dance from us...Is it possible to dance our way back into community, culture, and civilization, while the boys careen and view around us? Only time will tell, but dance we must—circling—doing a figure 8 through a maze of contradictions, dodging confrontation, tugging the hands of faltering sisters, the group rhythm transporting us round. Just that is our most practical, political strategy—for our greatest, tested strength is our collective spirit.”
This is a completely untested course. I have not taught it before; I don’t know how it will differ from other bellydance classes; I don’t know where it might lead. But dance we must, circling our hips, undulating our bellies, shaking our shoulders. And yes, we can dance our way back into community…this is my central goal for this class: to increase the community of women dancing together.
Beginning AUGUST 25, 2009 @
4135 Portola Dr (@ 41st)
$40.00 per 4-week session
beginning SEPTEMBER 10, 2009 @
13333 Middleton Avenue
Thursdays 10:30-11:30 am
$40.00 per 4-week session
PS: look for me at Cypress Raks on Sunday. I'm performing to some Cuban Timba music at about 7:15
* Grace Shinell "Women's Collective Spirit: Exemplified and Envisioned" in The Politics of Women's Spirituality. Charlene Spretnak, ed. Garden City, NY: Anchor Press: 1982