Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Bellydance: Hot Cultural Fitness

My wife has been bellydancing for a few years now. She was in a group fitness class at the University that met three times a week, and now she teaches the class. Out of that class, there were a group of students who made up a bellydance troupe, Trikhala [1]. She joined and now leads that Trikhala. Despite the pattern she exhibits of getting into things and then taking charge, she's not a bossy wife.

There are two reasons I'm bringing this up right now with all of you. First, you can see Trikhala and other bellydance troupes from around the region perform live this Saturday, from 7-9 at The Highdive in downtown Champaign at Bellies for Life, a benefit for Network of Strength, an organization that provides education and support to those afflicted with breast cancer [2,3,4]. That's right, you donate money to a good cause and watch talented bellydancers do their thing.

I would feel guilty (and maybe get in trouble) if I didn't mention that bellydance is not all about the hotness. For those confused among you, bellydancers are not strippers, but you can hire a troupe or individual to dance at your bachelor party, Mediterranean restaurant, or fund raising barnyard rave. You may see skin, but you do not throw dollars.

Here's a taboo you may not be aware of: bellydancers do not touch themselves or each other. You are not witnessing a dance for either your or their arousal. You are witnessing their talent, exemplified by the level of control they have over their bodies, the product of learning to isolate individual muscles for the purpose of moving synchronously with their troupe for your amazement.

Be amazed:

It can be hot, but that's not the point.

The second reason I'm noting this here is because you ought to know that you can learn to do this as well. If you're affiliated with the University, you can attend the group fitness class at CRCE [5]. If you're not, Pangaea, the troupe that organizes Bellies for Life (and Bellyboo in the fall), offers classes, presently held at Evolve Fitness [6]. The Urbana Park District offers Bellydance 101-103 classes [7], and I know I've seen notices of other workshops and classes offered around town.

If you're self-conscious, averse to paying for classes, or whatever, I'd also like to note that you can borrow some instructional DVDs and get the feel of things in your living room. There's a selection of DVDs available to you through the Lincoln Trail  Libraries System, giving you a choice of experience levels and styles, including the tribal fusion style performed by Trikhala [8].

Let's review: go to Bellies for Life this Saturday, see how cool bellydancing is while donating to a good cause, decide to learn for the exercise and the looking cool, and check out our DVDs or take some local classes. See you at The Highdive.

Outside eight:

1. Trikhala's website features photos and videos from past performances.
2. Here's a map, so you have no excuse for not knowing how to get to The Highdive.
3. Ticket prices and more info on the Bellies for Life benefit
4. More info on the former Network of Strength, now Y-Me Breast Cancer Support and Awareness Network
5. UIUC's group fitness site, where you can find class schedules and descriptions
6. Pangaea classes
7. The Urbana Park District lists its bellydance classes in the current Leisure Guide on page 38. Of course, this guide runs through April, and the offerings may change for summer, but they have offered bellydance classes for a few years now.
8. You can see all of the belly dance DVDs available in the Lincoln Trail  Libraries System, or just the ones we have at the Urbana Free Library (plus books and music). It's your click.

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