Ethnic Dance Expressions
School of Belly Dance
Gainesville, Florida
with Sallamah Chimera

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Ethnic Dance Expressions
School of Belly Dancing
Gainesville, Florida
Health Benefits of Belly Dancing

Belly Dancing has many healthful benefits. It is a dance of ultimate femininity, designed for a woman's body at any age. Naturally graceful, fluid movements flow beneath fluttering veils and swaying beads to celebrate the beautiful and varied shapes and sizes of womanhood. Belly Dancing expresses the joys of womanhood as it tones and exercises your body with stretching and low-impact aerobics. Learn to enjoy your body as you let your scarves flutter and your coins jingle. Let the beauty of Belly Dancing touch and transform you emotionally and physically into a creature of grace and dignity. Bring out your inner beauty and create your own unique, improved YOU.

How Does Belly Dancing Work the Body?

Belly Dancing is a natural age defying workout for your body, mind and spirit. The benefits of Belly dance are built into each dance movement. The dance has some Yoga basis in the form of isolated movements, stretches and contractions combined with breathing to help execute torso movements and to enhance your performance. The dance and accompanying exercises tone muscles, improve posture, develop balance and grace of movement. You will also improve your circulation, flexibility and bring your body and soul together again.

In both the exercises and the dance, you will learn to concentrate on isolating the muscles so each portion of the body can be moved independently of the rest of the body; to contract muscles to give them control, strength, and coordination; and to stretch every part of the body until you know where the controlling muscles are and how to manipulate them individually. The essence of belly dance is to learn how to isolate the shoulders from the neck and head movements; the elbows, wrists, and fingers from the shoulder movements; to move the rib cage without any movement in the shoulders, head, or hips; and to control the abdomen and hips separately from the rest of the body.

It seems strange, but once we isolate the movements, we begin learning how to layer and combine them. Belly dance movements usually originate in the muscles but there are a few that are skeletal and originate in the feet such as hip circles, figure eights, turns and some traveling movements.

As you become proficient with the dance movements, you begin to feel a sense of accomplishment. Because belly dancing is the ultimate female experience, the 45 degree angles enhance the curves of the female figure and the flow of the movements make you look and feel good about your body. As you begin to feel more feminine and your self-image improves, you feel alive and desirable.

The act of learning dance routines (choreography), new dance movements, honing your learning skills, and becoming disciplined and punctual, stimulates the brain, forcing it to get organized to reduce the risk of Alzheimer's and Dementia in the future. How? Learning to dance works both the right and left hemispheres of the brain together and it builds neuro path ways that can increase memory and improve your learning ability. You will actually get smarter. Also, the oxygenated blood from the aerobic aspect will travel to your brain and help improve your long and short term memories. Try exercising as you study before exams. It works!

You may also want to read about who belly dances and why as well as read over the frequently asked questions. See FAQs & Benefits...

Belly Dance and Physical Issues

Everyone has physical issues at some point whether it is a sprained ankle, a blister or a cut. If you are unable to dance, you can at least attend class and watch or carefully walk through the dances. For major or chronic problems, you can modify your belly dance or exercise technique and routines to work around physical limitations such as knee, back, ankle and plantar fasciitis. By reducing the fancy arm movements, you can also dance with torn rotator cuff injuries and stiff necks. Wearing the right kind of support for your physical problem can go a long way. Our Grecian sandals can be fitted with orthotics, we can wear knee and ankle braces and stretch bandages, massage and stretch the afflicted area, and of course, rest and ice it. For older people, dance and exercise routines can be changed to reduce the amount of spinning, abrupt weight and directional changes, and excess bouncing or kneeling.

Pregnancy and Belly Dancing

Belly Dancing can help you accept and celebrate your growing body. It is recommended by the midwifery clinics and doulas alike as a way to ease the aches and pains of pregnancy and prepare for labor and childbirth. As long a you don't have any health issues related to the pregnancy, you can dance during your pregnancy.

Belly Dancing is good for both the mother and the baby. It strengthen muscles throughout the body, especially in the abs, pelvis, back and legs in preparation for the hard work of labor. It can relieve tension from the weight of growing breasts, relieve heartburn and create extra space if the baby is in a high position.

Many dancers continue dancing right up to delivery and return to dancing soon after the baby is born. Several of my students have used hip circles, shimmies and figure eights to help stimulate the uterus and ease their labor pains. The rocking of the movements moves the baby into a good position for delivery. That's why it has been used in the Middle East for centuries.

Of course, you need to check with your OB/GYN beforehand to make sure you will be okay. From my experience, as a student's pregnancy advances, she may find that she only has enough energy for the one hour class. If you feel any discomfort, stop what you are doing immediately.

Safety Comes First

Here at Ethnic Dance Expressions, Sallamah Chimera stresses safety for her students whether they are belly dancing or participating in dance aerobics. That is why proper form is taught with emphasis on foot and knee alignment and placement. Students with greater spinal flexibility will have an easier time belly dancing than those with rigid lower backs. However, people with extreme flexibility can have other issues. Students need to work within the natural range of their body's abilities and respect who they are as individuals.

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