For yesterday and for all tomorrows, we dance the best we know. -Kate Seredy

Kathryn dances

Kathryn dances

Perhaps the oldest form of dance, Belly Dance has many of its roots in Middle Eastern cultures.  Middle Eastern dance forms are a passion for Kathryn Burke and she did an amazing job of leading a group of us through a series of challenging moves last week at the whole way health & fitness studio.

Isolating specific muscle groups — moving certain body parts while holding other muscles completely still — takes fierce focus and often a control which seems to be lacking.  The neurological patterning involved must be astounding, and the effects of toning and sculpting muscles is frequently the pot of gold participants are seeking.

 

nick, jaz, nadine, mandy, wendy, susan, jackie, donna - HIPsters

Core muscles are exercised to the max in this form of dance.  What is not to love about that?  Belly Dance also stimulates circulation and improves coordination.

It has a great impact on postural alignment and is a great way to reduce stress.

Kathryn provided us with a brief history of how she came to be a dancer and how it immediately became a passion for her.

stretching

stretching

She led us through a series of warm-up exercises and stretches.

Then we got down to business and began moving our bodies in ways most of us were not accustomed.

jaz & mandy work on neck slides

jaz & mandy work on neck slides

She attempted to teach us muscle control — both smooth, fluid movements and sharp, dramatic ones.  In some instances, we demonstrated sharp comedic ones.

The lower body work — the hip movements — are largely controlled through the knees, so balance and coordination are key components of the dance.

Learning to spin on the ball of one foot also created a great dynamic balance challenge for some of us.

Nick was the lone brave male to participate.  His focus was intense as he channeled his inner goddess.  We all appreciated his good natured bravery and we enjoyed his total absorption in learning the moves.

We practiced shoulder shimmies – an extremely tough move for many of us.

Snake arms, hip lifts, chest circles, hip circles, chest camels — it became a dizzying array of undulating movements, wide smiles, bursts of giggles, sly sideways glances, and general fun and frivolity.

Despite the stiffness arising from novelty, we all discovered Belly Dance to be a fabulous form of self expression, providing a freedom of movement, a connection with each other and deep spirit.

And many of us experienced post dance tenderness in hips, abdominal muscles, shoulders and upper back.  What a fantastic addition to a healthy and active lifestyle.

Kathryn, we quickly discovered, is an outstanding teacher and an amazing performer.

At the behest of all who gathered, she performed for us.  She was lovely, we were mesmerized.  What a treat!

hip lifts while on the move

hip lifts while on the move

mandy is a natural at shoulder shimmies!

mandy is a natural at shoulder shimmies!

jaz preps for chest lifts

jaz preps for chest lifts

nick wills his feet to spin

nick wills his feet to spin

donna thinks 'marty' and the hips slide

donna thinks ‘marty’ and the hips slide

Enjoy some of the photos from the evening.  My apologies for the poor quality — the batteries in my camera were low.  Many thanks to Udo-of-the-injured-back who had to forgo the shakes and shimmies and instead participate vicariously behind the lens of the camera.

Remember that when the music changes, so does the dance — an important life lesson.

susan's figure 8's were amazing

susan’s figure 8’s were amazing

nick nailed the head slides

nick nailed the head slides

Allyson was the quintessential seductress

Allyson was the quintessential seductress

circle games

circle games

nadine is smoooooooth

nadine is smoooooooth

kathryn & udo pose

kathryn & udo pose

capers on the loose

capers on the loose

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