Monday, January 5, 2009

Belly Dancing

Three mornings in a row, I have forced myself from the comfort of my warm and cozy bed, where I could happily lounge the hours away reading. Rather than goofing off with my lap top, and say, watching old videos of Snow Miser and other television holiday specials circa late 1970's, I am using it's capabilities as a research tool. I'm learning about belly dancing online, and hopefully improving my fitness and my mood at the same time.

I tried a shimmy, a camel walk, and Egyptian arms. My hips and knees crackled, as if laughing at me, but I kept moving anyway. A few years back, when I was about 31, and was trying an adult ballet class, I asked the teacher about the popping noises from my joints. Her reply started with “As we get older...” and she lost me after that. I prefer to think of it as a lack of use, rather than an old age issue. I can work on increasing the usage of my body, but there's not a lot I can do about the fact that I'm not 21 anymore. I actually take a lot better care of my body now than I did then, that's for sure.

As with most things that involve coordination, belly dancing is not as easy as it looks, and I am not renowned for my grace. In particular, there is this element of isolating particular body parts inherent in the art of belly dance. So, you are only moving for example just your head or hips, and the rest of your body stays still. Well, it's supposed to be still anyway. I haven't quite gotten that down yet. My body tends to move as a package, flailing through wherever I go. This isolation bit is a discipline that may take me a while to master. For now, I am afraid I look roughly somewhere between someone having a seizure, and Elaine dancing at a party in one particular episode of Seinfeld.

But, I have faith. I will get better I'm sure. I may never look like the women putting out the videos, but that's OK. That isn't really what I'm shooting for. I'm having fun and learning something new, and that feels good.

Speaking of the women in the videos, I must mention that I was refreshingly pleased to see a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Fitness in general, and dancing in particular, can often be the turf of the stick figure, but there are some real women out there who can do a mean shimmy.