Do you know what the Internet needs more of? Pale bellies! The other day, my very own belly decided to grace the Internet as a tribute to the online belly dance class that I took with Henna, an instructor based in Oregon.
This weekend, I met Henna in person and took my first in-real-life belly dance class, so my belly has decided to make another appearance. In fact, at this rate, she has a mind of her own. You can now follow her blog at reallypalebelly.com (note: I wouldn’t actually go to that web site if I were you. That was a joke. I’m not responsible for what your eyes see).
Henna Dances just began offering belly dance classes in Portland on Saturdays. If you sign up for her newsletter, you can take one of her classes for free and I highly recommend that you do both of those things.
Before I get into the nitty gritty of the amazing class that I took, I want to set the record straight: most people have bellies… and most people have bellies that jiggle. Jiggling is embraced in the belly dance community (meet my new BFF belly dance, you guys!)
I know that baring your midriff in front of others can be intimidating because, you know, abs. And, I should mention that you don’t have to show your stomach in class if you don’t want to… but you should. Because 6 pack swoonery is bullsh*t. The quest for one used to haunt me. But, not too long ago, my belly was home to a tiny human being. I will always have stretch marks and extra jiggle that act as a reminder of what my body was able to accomplish on its own (okay, I helped but you get what I mean), and that’s an amazing gift.
So, yeah jiggly bellies! Bring. It.
Now, back to the class that I took… Henna’s The Beautiful Basics class is designed for beginners and located in a small studio in SE. When I arrived, there were a handful of other participants and a rack of pretty scarves we could try on and borrow for the class. Before now, I never thought to get a scarf for my belly… but as a lover of all reasons to accessorize, I now have not only thought about getting one, I plan on purchasing three.
The class consisted of basic movements including some of the same hip isolations that I learned during my first virtual class. Even though I had done them before, it all felt very different in person. With the music playing in the room it was a lot more whimsical and I was able to riff off of the rhythms… or at least try to. Belly dancing is hard work. The muscle control it takes to move just the right hip in just the right sway has left me with some pretty sore obliques.
I’m also keenly aware of my upper body now. Quieting that part of yourself so that it stays still and allows your belly to do the dancing requires coordination I do not yet have but want to have. Does my belly plan on dancing more often? Well, her blog said ‘yes’ so I believe so. You can text her if you want to go with her next time. Apparently she has a cell phone now, too.
p.s. If you’re at all nervous that your belly isn’t ready to dance, you should check out Jade Beall’s A Beautiful Body Project for some perspective. Her photographs are honest, wonderful and something every person (especially mamas) should see.