Shimmy your way to smiles
I HAVE always been the first person to volunteer, whether it be at work, home or for charity. So, it didn't take much for me to agree to starting this new section.
I found my initial activity quite fun, and something I've always wanted to try - belly dancing.
But not just any belly dancing, Shiraz Bellydance offers a fusion of cabaret and tribal styles for all levels, and is run out of the CWA Hall, 19 Pulgul St, Urangan each Sunday, from 1-2pm.
Sandy Reid is the brains behind the belly dance and she has oodles of experience dating back almost 20 years.
She began belly dancing in 2000 in Adelaide, since then she has learned from some of the best teachers in Australia, and travelled overseas to explore belly dance styles and to collaborate with other dancers and performers.
It's hard to describe how it made me feel, but womanly might be the best word, rather than feminine. It's quite mature and sensual, and it's not just about the dancing, it's the whole experience, including the fun of dressing up beforehand.
Each of the dancers puts together their own ever-evolving outfit consisting at the very least of pantaloons (the cotton bands word under the skirt), skirts, bedleh (the beaded bra top), hip scarf and headbands.
Sandy was kind enough to bring along a spare set of each so I could enjoy a full experience.
Most bedleh will consist of coins, and in tribal belly dancing, which embraces many forms of the dance from a range of cultures, it's not unusual to have coins come from countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, India or Malaysia.
Sandy told me having coins on costumes originated from a time without purses, but they needed to carry money, so the safest way to carry money was to sew it on to their clothes.
Even though I felt like everything was going in the wrong direction at the wrong time, I apparently did well for my first time.
Sandy thinks this is because of yoga. The way you stretch your body and the use of your core strength is quite similar. Although I personally think the dancing might be slightly more fun.
I love yoga. It helped me through some serious health issues so I didn't use pain medication, but it's not something I can imagine getting together with some girlfriends and sharing a giggle and some shimmying! While the meditation and peace that comes with my yoga is an extremely important part of my week, sharing a laugh with some girlfriends is something I may be lacking in.
Add to that, this style of belly dance is based on improv, so you don't have to be an expert to start.
It would be ideal for those who have always "wanted to", but never made the leap.
If you've had belly dancing at the back of your mind, my suggestion to you is to do what I do and say 'yes', give it a go.
Given its International Women's Day on March 8 what more perfect way to celebrate than shimmying with some other beautiful women - it's a great way to start some low impact exercise to build up your strength, but feel beautiful at the same time.
Sandy said she will be soon starting some sewing days as well, so it's not all about the dance, but you can learn about the costume and how to make them as well.
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**Emily Black was a guest of Shiraz Bellydance.