Belly Dancing

Tools

By Kelly Burke

CARTERVILLE--"It's like a music lesson and a dance lesson and a cultural lesson and a bunch of fun all rolled up," is how Belly Dance instructor Sedonia Sipes describes her beginner class.

"I have muscles I've moved tonight that I haven't moved forever, and you wouldn't think that because it's just belly dancing, but I feel it," said participant Sharon Williams.

Williams is a first-timer who came with her fellow co-workers as something fun to do together.

"It was really fun, get a group of girls together, and everybody just come out and have a good time and laugh at each other," said Williams.

The Middle Eastern dance is an art form, and while anyone can learn the moves, it's a lot more complex than just shaking your hips.

"I think people kind of misunderstand and get up and think they can shake different parts of their body and it looks authentic, but it does take practice, "said beginner Jessica Booth.

Sipes added, "To do it the proper way, we use a lot of muscles in the core that we just don't typically use in our culture and other dance forms."

And according to Sipes, there are plenty of misconceptions about the movement. "Some people come to it thinking it's one thing, and they find out it's something else. A lot of people think they're going to come and learn a sexy dance to impress their husband and they come and it's more than that, and it's something they do for them."

For many of Sipes students, learning to belly dance is a transformational experience. Sipes is one of them.

"I like the effects it has on women, when they learn to belly dance, what they get from that often, it's not just learning a dance, it's developing a healthy body image, confidence, it's physically and emotionally powering to people."
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