2, - Exercise. Belly dance has kept me fit for the last 25 years. It might not be the hardest workout, but it raises my heart rate, produces a "glow" and keeps me moving every day. Because I can dance for 5 minutes of 55 minutes, its easy to fit into the busiest routine. Touch wood, I have never had a serious injury through dance, but I have danced through injury. When I hurt my ankle, I was still "chair dancing" every day. At 47, I am at that age where my non belly dance friends are starting to drop out of sports and exercise due to injuries. Yet, we regularly see belly dancers in their 70's, 80's and 90's still taking to the stage. Thank you belly dance for being the perfect form of exercise.
Sweeping up before class - the "teacher warm up"!
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5, - Performances. I am not one of those people who only goes to shows if I have a performance slot. I love to see belly dance performances of all levels at any venue. If I have an evening at home you may well find me surfing YouTube to feed my addiction. I dont care what your style is, I just want to see good dancing, a pretty costume, some stage craft and an interpretation of the music. I flip between the golden age classics to art that scares or upsets me, I enjoy the folk dances, Tribal Fusion, and glamorous theater productions. I am lucky enough to live in the SF bay area, which means I can see a show (or five) every Saturday night. I am lucky that I get to pick and choose, dress up, meet friends, and see wonderful performances whenever I want.
6, - Music. Just as I love every kind of belly dance, so I love all the music that comes with it. I enjoy a great live band, or a single drummer. I am lucky enough that my music collection is now so big that I can play anything, anytime, to suit my mood, my dancing or my surounding. I would like to take a moment to thank those of you who have taken the time to record music for belly dancers, or to play at an event, or to teach a workshop about the depths and meanings of the classic tunes. Belly dance has given me the soundtrack to my life.
7, Confidence. For me, this goes beyond the confidence to walk onto a stage and present a dance that I have spent 10 months working on. There is a confidence that comes from being surounded by brave, bold, beautiful, strong and intelligent people. When you take part in a show and see others project the pain and upset of a recent break up into a performance, or see the lady who just lost her job suck it up and spread joy to the very back row, it emboldens you to put your shoulders back and believe that anything is possible. Knowing that others may like your work, also gives you the confidence to truely assess the critisims that always come with presenting art. When I see one of my books in the hands of a new reader, I still hope that they like it - we all want to be liked. But belly dance gave me the confidence to write those books, because I love it so much that I have studied it in depth, talked to experts and drawn my own conclusions. I am an expert. How is that for confidence !!
Sara Shrapnell is a belly dance writer, teacher and performer.
She has taught more than 4,000 belly dance classes, both in the UK and US. She now teaches in Pleasanton, Dublin and Livermore in the SF bay area, as well as workshops world wide. Her classes are known for their humor, detailed breakdowns and cultural context. Students who have studied with Sara have gone on to teach and perform in all styles of belly dance and many have made their living through performance or teaching.
Sara’s first book “Teaching Belly Dance” was published in 2014. Her second "Becoming a Belly Dancer: From Student to Stage", co- written with Dawn Devine, Alisha Westerfeld and Poppy Maya, is a stagecraft handbook for belly dancers of all styles and levels. Both are available on Amazon.
Teacher Knows Best
Dealing with Difficult Students
I'm Perfect for Belly Dance (and so are you)
Why Belly Dancers need to Walk the Line
Teaching Belly Dance: Making Corrections
Being Part of the Solution
Or check out my Hub Blogs including:
"Your First Belly Dance Workshop"
The Top Ten Belly Dance Tunes for Performance"
"Finding a Great Belly Dance Teacher"