I have a hobby which has helped me in so many ways. I am so thankful that I decided to try it again. Here’s the story on that. When I was in my 40’s I taught myself how to dance. Not just any kind of dancing…belly dancing, (also known as beledi). I fell in love with the beauty of the dance at a Renaissance Fair.
The facts that my grandfather was from Greece; and Greek music and dances were similar to other Mediterranean countries made me want to dance! I was fascinated and physically moved by the music when I heard it.
The music stirred my interest. I bought several instructive videos on how to belly dance and CD’s of the music to learn the dance. I watched beledi on YouTube and went to every Renaissance Fair I could so I could watch the graceful, beautiful dancing of the costumed ladies. I even did research on its origins.
I never was athletic enough nor had the stamina enough to dance as fast as many of them do. I never had the flat muscular stomach to dance with but in the photo at the bottom you will see that that doesn’t matter really. I never could do a lot of things those well trained women did. But I got some exercise; had a lot of fun learning and dancing to the Middle Eastern music and I could move a veil with grace and beauty. In all honesty I could only dance to the slower music.
I did have a lot of fun surprising people who thought the knew me well. When I told them I had been studying belly dancing, thy looked dubiously at me. They were quite surprised when I showed them that I really could do hip flips, undulations and other moves.
My moves were restricted to slower belly dancing, figure 8 moves with my hips, lots of ways to move the veil around, and I could play the zils, finger cymbals, some too. I was given a $1 bill from a male friend who happened to see me showing a female friend that I could in deed do some of the moves of a belly dancer; he was so impressed and surprised.
On one visit to my parents I gave them a demonstration of my skills. My father although in the throes of dementia was tickled pink that I had learned these belly dancing moves. He got up, got his camera and took these three pictures. I still remember hearing him say, “She’s got it!”
I particularly love the veil dancing, which can be quite enchanting. Here is one photo of me posing with my 70 plus year old aunt while teaching her how to belly dance. I was in my early 40’s then. She at 70 could square dance, and fox trot with the best of them!
Over the next ten years my husband’s illness and physical problems and work seemed to call me away from belly dancing. Then in 2009 my husband died. The following year my doctor put me on a restriction to not lift over 20 pounds because of sciatica from degenerative disc disease. Since no one was interested in hiring an almost 60 year old with “back problems, I retired a little early from nursing.
Seven years later I am older, weigh a little more and still have back restrictions. But my back has stabilized. For a long time I considered belly dancing to be way beyond my ability and too risky for an out of condition, almost 67 year old! I was afraid I would permanently damage myself if I did some of the fast dancing. So I let dancing this pleasure pass me by for a long time until recently.
I still love to watch the dancers though because of the beauty of the moves and the intricacies the many, many differing international styles, music, and items danced with. They can dance with swords, candelabras, lit candles, canes, and flaming torches! There is also a wide variety of clothes that can be worn by the dancers too. Some can balance a scimitar on their head, kneel down, lean back, turn over, and all kinds of potentially dangerous moves.
After treatment by a chiropractor and weaning myself off of the pill for nerve pain, I asked the Dr. about belly dancing. She encouraged me to try it by going slow in my practice and not doing anything that causes a sharp pain or a return of the sciatica. So I discovered a weekly class with an experienced belly dancer and have learned two routines.
I think the exercise has helped me lose some weight and I feel great. I also started working on my own fancy costume from a sari I bought over 5 years ago.
So if you are looking for a fun, energetic, beautiful, challenging, entertaining exercise to do alone, for your spouse or for money, Belly Dancing is the one I would pick again….if I were much, younger and had a good back again.