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This site not work anymore .I have a new site and you can go there visit me. I dont go put more post here anymore ... If you like this blog go there .. I will be there for you ... Olá meus queridos amigos ... agora tenho um novo blog Este site nao funcionará mais , tive alguns problemas. Agora tenho um novo endereco de blog. Nao irei mais colocar post neste blog .. Todas as atualizacoes e novidades estarao no outro endereco .. Acessem... estarei lá pra vcssss Se vcs gostaram desse blog irao amar o outro .. mais atualizado e lindo ... Vamos láaaa .... visitem-me lá .. Beijinhos Lili

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domingo, 24 de janeiro de 2010

Belly Dance Your Way To Fitness

PORTAGE — Imagine it’s 6:15 p.m. on a Thursday and you’re on the way to belly-dancing class.

You enter the Portage Public Schools Administration Building, climb the stairs to the second floor, walk past the classrooms full of night-school students, hang up your coat and head to the dance studio to warm up.

You grab a bottle of water and line up with 15 women ranging in age from 16 to 60. They’re wearing stretch pants, T-shirts and pink, lime, silver and black sequined hip belts that shake like loose change.

The instructor frantically looks through her leopard-print tote bag for the first song. She inserts the CD into the boom box and the drums start, then the lutes, hammered dulcimers and vertical flutes. This is not Western music, you say to yourself. The old wooden floor begins to creak as you start to move to the beat.

“Are we ready to go?” calls out the instructor as she leads a warm-up dance.

It doesn’t matter if you’re overweight or if you have physical disabilities. Joette Sawall helps any willing woman, and the occasional man, shimmy and undulate to a new body image.

“It’s very empowering, and it creates a positive force for women,” says the 36-year-old Sawall, owner and operator of the West Michigan School of Middle Eastern Dance.
Where it started

Belly dancing, or raks sharki, as it’s known in Egypt, conjures up all sorts of images: scantily clad women, sequined midriff-baring costumes, dangling beaded belts and an exotic nightclub setting.

The truth is that the dance form has humble beginnings that date back thousands of years to Egypt and the Turkish countryside.

It became a hit in the United States when a young, fully clothed girl performed belly dance at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, Sawall says. Sal Bloom, the exhibit director, coined the name Little Egypt for the girl, who shimmied and undulated her way into the hearts of an uptight Victorian culture.

The 1950s and ’60s ushered in the dance technique as we know it today in the United States. Nightclubs featured the dance in a burlesque style. Dancers wore over-the-top costumes, including bright, coined sequined belts, as they quivered unabashedly and rotated their bellies in a suggestive manner.

Weight loss and aerobics

Health clubs, on the other hand, thrived on the weight-loss aspect of the moves, and some colleges began offering belly dancing as an aerobics credit.

“It works different muscles without the torture of regular aerobics,” says Deb Hansen, 56, of Portage. “It’s great for anyone who has curves.”

Johanna Hamilton, a 16-year-old high school student, agrees. Hamilton has taken dance classes since she was 9 years old. Her mother and sister took a class with Sawall and encouraged her to get involved.

“I like the mix of styles and the light structure,” she says. “Most other dance instructors have rigorous standards, and this is so much more fun.”

Kathryn Walter, 53, of Portage takes the beginning belly-dancing course with Sawall. She was exposed to belly dancing for the first time when a belly dancer paid a visit to the nursing home where he father lives, near Detroit.

“It’s nice for women who are curvier and any size or shape,” she says.

Three instruction levels

Sawall instructs belly dancing at three different levels. The first level is for those who want to learn the basic moves — undulations, shimmies, circles, hip drops — which feel a little awkward at first. After 12 weeks, most students know them well.

Upon the instructor’s approval, students can move up to the next level, which focuses on choreography for performances. This is when the fun shopping begins — the buying of headdresses, extravagant belts, veils and costumes.

The third level brings opportunities to perform at Greek Fest and other festivals or private shows.

“Women tell me they come to find their happy place. I have found mine,” says Sawall, who also teaches gender and media studies at Western Michigan University after obtaining a master’s degree in communication there last year. “I may not be wealthy, but I’m rich in many other ways.”


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