Belly Dance Hafla & at the Edge

Many of you know that one of my passions is the belly-dance classes I attend. I’ve been shaking it all about for nigh on seventeen years now.

The first time I was introduced to belly-dance, however, must be more than twenty years ago – when a belly-dancer came to our village WI, told us of the true history of the dances (celebratory or in commiseration, by women – for women) and got us all up and shimmying. Unfortunately she wasn’t running classes, and it wasn’t until a number of years later than I discovered Jules. I had been learning Cornish Dance for a millennium event, but that finished and my friend asked if I would be interested in going to belly-dance instead! Was I? Too right I was!

Our group holds an annual Hafla ( a belly-dance party) with which we raise funds for MacMillan Cancer support (in memory of one of our members). Belly-dance groups come to perform from all over Devon, Cornwall and beyond and great fun is had by all while raising a goodly sum for the charity! For this one we did a veil dance – lots of swishing of gauzy fabric! a youtube video can be found here

Our group, known as Shimmying Jewels, also dances out a few times a year, sometimes at Calstock Festival, sometimes at the Tavistock Edge Festival.  A couple of weekends ago it was the latter. We were all set with two performances and two dances in each part of the town (though the second dance was more as backing-dancers to a dance duet by two of our members)

The first dance was to a lively tune with a refrain that extols the ample virtues of Egyptian Ella – a belly-dancer. (And that’s almost a truism, some of the best belly-dancers are of very ample proportions, but with fantastic control over their sinuous movements!) Jules choreographed a stick dance to this – which means that a brightly coloured stick is used to enhance the moves.

I was hoping a video of this was going up on youtube – but it hasn’t arrived yet (I will link to it when it does) In the meantime here are a few stills. wp_20170708_12_08_06_prowp_20170708_12_08_28_prowp_20170708_12_10_32_prowp_20170708_12_08_32_prowp_20170708_12_10_40_pro

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, if you fancy belly-dancing – and know where you can join a class but are wondering what to wear – I may have just the blog for your right here  which also goes a long way to explaining what I love about belly-dance.

Though I just love to dance … any dance really … belly-dance has a special place in my heart!

Do you love to dance?

What type of dancing do you do?

Do share- you know I love to hear from you!

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Belly Dancing – for fitness, friendship and fun – not to entertain men

Ok, so I love belly dancing! It always leaves me feeling so good. Your whole body gets a really good workout without you even realising, as you are just having fun.

Let’s put a few myths to bed, 1, Belly dance was not created to entertain men, nor is it lascivious or meant to be sexually alluring. It probably originated in the women’s tents, the women entertaining each other, dancing to express themselves in times of joy and in times of sorrow. There are traditional dances for the harvest safely gathered in, for the loved one leaving, or coming home, for any major happening in the community or life. There are those that believe that the dance actually originated as a fertility dance, the movements representing stages of giving birth. Whichever it was certainly a folk dance and as such, when it left the tents, it was a dance shared with the community, where men also danced and it wasn’t called ‘Belly Dance’ then, it was probably just ‘dancing’ known as Raqs Baladi (folk dance) it was probably thought of as about erotic as Barn Dancing or Morris Dancing in the UK (incidentally also believed to have started as a fertility dance). The ‘sexy belly dance’ (and its costume) it seems, we can blame, first on the romantic Victorians and then on Hollywood

2, Belly Dancing is not just shaking it all about. Belly dance is about control, about isolation. Isolation is where you focus on moving one part of the body but keeping the rest still, to circle hips and keep your whole top half still is no mean feat, but try circling your top half and keeping your hips still – so still that the coins on your coin belt don’t even shiver, that’s hard! To shimmy your hips and keep shoulders still, to circle one hip and keep the other leg still, the arms and upper body still… it all takes practice…but it is fun and strengthens core muscles in a weight bearing low impact exercise – so is good for you too.

So, every Thursday in term time you’ll find me, and a lovely group of women, all ages from teens to sixties being guided through our paces by the beautiful and graceful Jules in Gunnislake, where we take over the primary school hall for the evening, dressed in our finery with barely a belly on view (what to wear is a whole other blog) and having fun getting fit and flexible. I took a snap-shot of Jules for this blog .. but as I didn’t have the camera set to ‘sport’ it came out blurred… so I may add one later.

Obviously I am just a participant and an amateur at belly dancing, though I calculate that I have been learning it for ten years or so, what aspects would people like to know more about? Speak now or I shall just blog on in my own sweet way.

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More Port Eliot Festival …..

Wow! What a great festival… the weather gave showers for the Friday but they soon cleared, and I ended up leaving my wellies in the car and favouring sandals all day.  So, if you’ve never been to Port Eliot Festival you have to know that most recently it was a Literary Festival with a wild past (known as Elephant Fayre in the 80s) that has now matured into a brilliant all round, family friendly festival, something for everyone, everyone pretty laid back and in such beautiful surroundings.

There is plenty of the literary festival still there with readings, discussions, interviews etc but is combined with music, to suit many tastes, wild swimming, cinema both in the house and at night down by the river, fashion, flower arranging, poetry, food from small Cornish frozen yoghurt business to Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen, cookery demonstrations, bars, comedy, cabaret, stalls, a whole area just for children to enter into a fantasy land of making  playing play acting, dressing up and doing wonderful stuff, wandering musicians, jugglers and dancers. Dovegreyreader (blog-site) even had a tent where you could sit while she did interviews and you could knit, should you wish to.

What did I notice… well people always dress a little differently when at Port Eliot (especially if they’ve visited the Fashion tent) and the stalls selling weird and wonderful hats, (vintage and modern) and the same in clothes attract a lot of people who obviously arrived and only then realised people treat the place like a big fancy dress event. Me? Well I went wearing one of my belly dance coin belts, over layered skirt and wrap and jingled my way about…. part of my reading included words describing a belly dance and so it was also a prop! Secondly… as I said the weather really didn’t need wellies…yet all through so many people were wearing their wellies (all sorts – multi-coloured to standard green or black)… even on the stage, as did Kate Winslet when she read to the children from Mr Gum … perhaps they didn’t bring any other footwear … it being a festival and all.

Our reading in the round room went well with nearly a capacity audience – everyone in bare or stockinged feet in there as have  to take your boots off at the door …. can’t wait for next year!

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