I guess it’s kind of official: I’m a belly dancer!

I’ve taken beginner classes in the past. My studies began around 2009 when two friends and I took three classes and learned some of the most basic moves. Not long after that, another friend and I took a 14-week class and learned even more moves. I had a lot of fun and thought I was pretty decent at it but I didn’t pick it up again until this year. The same teacher, Andalee, held an advanced beginners class where we learned how to perfect some of the same moves we learned in the beginners class and then how to dance them in a choreographed performance. And on Saturday, I had my first performance. So that pretty much makes me legit, right?

©Melissa Richard photography

The origins behind belly dancing aren’t known for sure. My favorite explanation – that I first heard in a short segment on tv featuring belly dance several years ago that I can’t seem to find now – is that it was created for women by women to prepare their bodies for childbirth. Movements in the belly represented the movement of the fetus in the womb, the movements of the chest and shoulders representing breastfeeding, etc. Pretty cool, huh?

Andalee and her advanced beginners!

Anyway, we performed at my teacher’s student hafla (which is Arabic for  party, get-together, or celebration) to a crowd of about 100 performers and their friends and families. I was so nervous but it was a lot of fun. I’m not a stranger to performing as I’ve done plenty of community theater, and, if you can believe it, it wasn’t the first time I’d ever performed a choreographed dance (I entered a talent show in elementary school where 3 other girls, one boy, and I made up a dance and performed it to a song called Romeo by Dolly Parton and the achy-breaky heart king himself, Billy Ray Cyrus – true story, it’s actually on VHS somewhere) BUT it was the first time I have ever belly danced in front of other people. A new class starts in a few weeks so I think I might continue… and maybe I’ll do it all again!

P.S. This is the third new thing for my New Year’s resolution!