September 19, 2013

Veve Dance 7th Anniversary Extravaganza





7 years of Shimmilicious moves
7 years of Exceptional teaching
7 years of Vivacious vibes
7 years of Effervescent energy
7 years of Nurturing love and light
Celebrating all this and more


What started out as a gentle passing by thought has now blossomed into a mesmerizing, dream-catching, soul-searching and all encompassing journey of 7 wondrous years!

On the 9th of June, 2013, we celebrated the 7th year milestone of sailing through this huge ocean of love and light, extended by each and every one of our students, business partners, family, friends and acquaintances. We accorded a warm welcome all our students old and new (and for the first time ever; dear members of family, friends and acquaintances) to come and celebrate with us this momentous occasion; as we took a trip down the memory lane, to glimpse back at the good times and also to look ahead and surge forward towards the years to come, as we live this dream together. 

The most awaited day arrived with great surprises, bringing with it loads and plenty some of heavy downpour. On the day 9th of June, Mumbai received one of the heaviest rains of the season, disrupting the roadway and railway lines and bringing the fast paced city into a slow crawl.

But overcoming, many ups and downs because of the rains which included the end moment changing of Venue on account of the previously fixed Venue being flooded, the final venue for the Hafla was Lager bay, Bandra. 




It is said that, sometimes, when you are not even looking for it or are expectant of the same, life comes in a full circle. 7 years ago, our Director had started the first branch of our Dance Company – Veve Dance, in the self same place with just 2 students. Now after 7 years, we were back from where our roots still stretched out strong, with a strong family of 2000 plus students.

Earlier what was called as Zenzi has now been transformed into Lagerbay. But for Veronica and all the old students who have had the wonderful opportunity to learn this beautiful dance form at Zenzi, it was like something the Universe conspired to bring about. It was one of the brightest points of the wet rainy evening.

To banish the rainy gloom and color the evening with the dazzling colors of the orient, a plethora of events had been arranged. Many belly dance games like the Slow Shimmy Sting, Arabic Whisper, Akhlakh Ghazal, Meena Bazaar etc. had been arranged for the students to participate in and win prizes.



For the first time ever, we had a Belly Mela launching ‘Veve Dance Fashion Line’ with loads of accessories, clothing and belts on display. 


To make the event more interesting and to add layers to the evening, along with the performance by students, there was a showcase of performances of 7 different genres of Belly Dance by 7 different instructors of Veve Dance. The event was hosted by our beloved Director, the supremely talented Veronica Simas de Souza.


We kick started the event with the very first performance of the evening; a group performance by our Intermediate level students. 




The girls performed a very graceful and elegant Classic Egyptian piece. The rhythm of the song was very crisp and purposeful one second but mischievously nebulous and fanciful the next. The girls matched the delightfully circuitous beats of the music with harmonized & lively steps, playful combinations and an individualized style. They executed each and every move with loads of attitude and charm.

They had an instant connection with the audience with their eloquent expressions demonstrating richness of natural emotions and care-free smiles. With their brilliant posture, innate poise, beautiful formations and a simple yet attractive choreography, they packed a huge punch. 







Next in line was the first solo performance of the event. Our Instructor in training, Gayatri Nerurkar presented a Kathak – Belly fusion dance. 

Just as the breeze that gently creates ripples on the surface of water, Gayatri’s performance was a rhythmic and graceful synthesis of Kathak abhinayas, arms and tatkaar with graceful classical egyptian belly dance moves. Her dance was a glimpse of ‘Ananda Tandava’ which is danced by Lord Shiva to express joy and happiness. It evoked the oneness of God and creation. The word Kathak has been derived from the word Katha which means a story. Gayatri skillfully fused the elements of Kathak and Belly dance to narrate to the audience the story of her deep devotion to Lord Shiva and her worship of him.

Towards the end of her performance, she took 16 devastatingly fabulous Chakkars/Spins completing two rounds across the room marking the beats of the music. Through her spins she was invoking all the elements of the nature and universe in her praise of the Lord. She ended her performance with a flourish assuming the pose of Natraja as an obeisance to Shiva's characteristics such as protection, upliftment, and liberation.






The next performance was by Instructor Aakriti Prasad. She presented a very graceful & delicate, Odissi – Tribal belly dance fusion performance. Fluidity being the core of her performance, one could see fluidity in her interpretation of the music and fusion of the arts and fluidity of her exuberant movements yet tranquil expressions. Through the pathway of her performance, she and her audience entered a deep entranced state where divine beauty and vibrant aliveness encapsulates the heart with warmth.

She amalgamated spectacularly the sensuous expressiveness, graceful agility and rhythmic footwork of Odissi with the fluid serpentine arms and undulating moves of the solemn and meditative tribal belly dance. The portrayal of the exquisite beauty of the sacred feminine through Odissi and the grace and power of the tribal belly dance had the audience asking for more. 

In her performance, Aakriti not only managed to preserve the devotional roots and spiritual depth of the Odissi dance form but also managed to infuse it with the earthy grounded movements of tribal belly dance. 

Layering intricate mudras with shimmies and dramatic expressions, she wove an intricate realm of deep emotion and divine inspiration to ignite the spirit of all present.






Descending upon the floor, wrapped in a black cloak was Instructor Megha. She presented a gothic belly dance piece. Fusing the liquid flow of belly dancing together with the sharp and jagged movements of contemporary dance, she conveyed the conflicting psychological states and deep despodential conflicts of her character.

Using her emotions and mood to dictate the steps of the performance, she narrated the story of a tortured spirit struck in an eternal dream of unrelenting and unmerciful gloom where the hysterical cries and moans of invisible daemons kept on resounding all around her. Thrust deep into the abysses, of the night she stood in grief, fearing and doubting her being. Using a variety of gestures from both belly dance and contemporary, she revealed her inner turmoil while exploring emotions of repression, denial, private longing, and frustration.

But there comes a point when one has to stand up and shake off the fear and try to put out the black fire that burns the heart and the soul. In the second half of her performance she stood looking the cold and malevolent daemons in their glittering eyes and fought with them to be liberated from the spell cast upon her soul.

Utilizing movements which were forceful and angular, Megha exposed the rawness of her heart and by making deep piercing eye contact with every member of the audience; she shared and narrated her story of liberation to them.






Taking a break from the hosting, our Director Veronica, performed an impromptu jig to the Darbuka beats. The Darbuka was played by a very close friend of Veronica’s, Mr. Jeremie Sabbagh who is a Darbuka player from Paris and whose grandfather is of egyptian origin. Many students, who had not heard the Darbuka being played Live before, were awe-struck by the mastery of Mr. Jeremie’s rendition.  He got a resounding applause for his exuberant playing of the Darbuka.

Whenever Veve performs, she creates her own universe with her dance and lets artistic creation happen through her while dancing. Her performances have the power to transform her own reality and touch her audience. It is always an absolute pleasure to watch her dance.






A very close friend of our Director Veronica’s, Ms. Hajar, who happens to be an Oriental Dancer from Paris-Morrocan origin; graced our Hafla with her presence. To give all those present a glimpse of how belly dancing is enjoyed while meeting up with friends at the tea-shops of Morocco, without the embellishments and glitz of costume, accessories and heavy make-up, Veronica requested Ms. Hajar to do a small improvisational jig to the Darbuka beats. The darbuka was played by Mr. Jeremie.

Using her scarf and tying it up as a hip-belt she executed a very earthy, fresh and full of energy sequence complete with crisp and isolated movements. She received a resounding applause from one and all present and had everyone wishing for more.







When time came for our advanced level girls to take the stage, they boogied out with very energetic hip twists, their arms flung high in the air. The level of vigor of this high-octane kick off didn’t drop until the song ended and the energy that the girls gave out to the audience was returned many fold to them with crazy claps and cheers! 

Sashaying to the beats of a very sexy song, the girls tousled their hair and swayed their way from one cheery combination to another, their sassy moves reminiscent of a crazy girls’ night out. They brought to life a performance that was eclectic, exciting and full of joie de vivre. A very well choreographed performance, with synchronized hip swings and several head tosses. But the cherry on the top was the authentic feel it had to it. The girls looked like they were having the time of their lives and the audience couldn’t help but be drawn into this fun and rollick.

In all a very smooth and intensely power-packed performance, that had the audience hollering for more.






Shrouded in a dark veil of mystery and exquisitely layered instrumental music, Senior Instructor Dipika presented a Tribal Fusion Belly dance performance. 

Her spine as erect as a rod of tenacious platinum and arms held in long curves framing her body, she conveyed strength, pride and resilience. A dark nymph of the shadows, her trinkets tinkling like the distant echo of shooting stars, she awakened within us a long forgotten flurry of memories and yearnings. Her moves struck a chord within the deepest recesses of the soul and resounded in every part of our being. 

Blending technical vocabulary of Belly dancing with the stylistic elements of Break dance, she created splendid combinations with sharp and fast actions like popping, locking and breaking moves, mixing it with surges of body waves and alternating it with moments of freeze creating a robotic effect. Addressing all the elements of these two diverse dance forms, she then layered them together using delicate shimmies and transformed them into a complete & intricate whole.

She radiated blasts of psychic energy, into the hearts of her audience and kept them connected to her by a tenuous and gossamer thin thread, but in all its power alive and vibrating. Weaving a translucent fabric of esoteric rules, she cast a spell, capturing all hearts.





Adding a modern twist to the tale of the Lady of the Lake, Senior Instructor Sanjana, presented a Modern fantasy oriental belly dance piece.

Akin to a Mermaid, she was dressed in a sparkling costume intricate with aquamarine gemstones and golden overtones. She epitomized the Lady of the Lake who, with her long & lustrous tresses flowing like curtains of silk, dwells on the Isle of Avalon; the mysterious and otherworldly Paradise which lies across the waters and beyond the mists. 

Dancing on instrumental music, with an underwater undercurrent to it, she supplemented her unique combinations with a motley of layerings and shimmies. Her sinuous & rhythmic hip movements and undulating arms were redolent with mystery and radiated energy all through the gathering. In all her majesty and glory, she was the Princess of light and also of darkness, the one who reigns in the space between the worlds. But like an apparition, she shimmied and swayed just a breath away, never reachable to the outstretched arms of the mortal; a shift in consciousness, an opening glimpsed through a Veil into another dimension of reality.  








The jugalbandi between our Director Veronica Simas de Souza and the world renowned celebrity Yoga trainer and Ashtanga Vinyasa Yogini Deepika Mehta was the high point of the evening. Their performance can only be described as the rhythmical creation of beauty through the skillful flow of energy from one to the other. By challenging the finite path of human limitations and by overcoming it, they reached on towards infinity by bringing about a great balance and control of their movements.

On the soulful beats of electronica music, they both glided solemnly from one intricate and highly advanced yoga pose to another with such mastery, that, it created around them a divine halo of transcendental energy. Their moves were so brilliantly complimentary to each other, that it went beyond the artistic mastery of a performance and synergized into something much more ethereal and spiritual. The innate chemistry between both Veronica and Deepika was so sparklingly invigorating that they looked like soul sisters soaring relentlessly through the hurdles of life. 

Reflected in dozens of pairs of eyes, they had cast a spell on their audience and held them spell-bound with their creation of sublime splendor.





After successful completion of the Hafla, Veve Dance Team takes a bow





Click happy time!!!! Senior instructors Sanjana and Dipika pose after the performances





Girls just wanna have fun :D Everybody on the dance floor enjoying and dancing away the rainy day blues at the end of the Hafla.

xoxo
Megha


July 3, 2013

For the first time ever- World Belly Dance Day Celebration in Mumbai, India


Only after the last tree has been cut down
Only after the last river has been poisoned
Only after the last fish has been caught
Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten
- Cree Indian Prophecy -

We are currently passing through a space of time, where we are not exactly facing the full impact of the ramifications of the above quote, or are we. It all depends upon which end of the looking glass, one is looking through.

Mumbai, the Capital city of the state of Maharashtra, also called as the Financial and Entertainment Capital of India, is probably one of the best examples of the same. On one hand, it is home to many famous Stars from the Film and the Sports Industry and on the other hand, home to Dharavi, the biggest slum in Asia.

In present day Mumbai, Water is one asset whose flow is directly proportional to the flow of another precious (not) liquid asset – Money. The rich and middle class, more or less get, 24x7 supply of water; even as thousands of villages across the state face tremendous shortage of water all throughout the year. One doesn’t need to travel to the interiors of Maharashtra to see the appalling shortage of water that the lesser privileged have to face. The hard-hitting truth is much closer home.

Even as one starts moving towards the outskirts of Mumbai, one can see many small ‘adivasi’ (tribal) villages, which have been neglected by society and government and they face tremendous shortage of the most basic necessity of life - Water.

By god’s grace, there are many NGO’s that are selflessly working hard towards the upliftment of these Adivasi villages.




DAC – Dance Across Cultures is one such NGO which has adopted a village on the outskirts of Mumbai and works towards improving the condition of the villagers by providing them water and education. They also strive towards building and supporting the self-esteem and confidence of the children of the village, especially the girl children. 




To aid this endeavor, DAC conducts regular Dance classes and English Conversation classes at the village.





They have also successfully built a rain-water harvesting well which aids in providing water throughout the year. Their aim is to build another one soon and also test water quality and implement measures to better it.





Since many years now, Veve Dance has collaborated with DAC on a number of different occasions for conducting fun classes and also in providing the children of the village opportunity to travel to the City and take part in various cultural activities like art festivals and stage performances.


After seeing the problems faced by these adivasis so up & close, Veronica Simas de Souza, Director of Veve Dance had made up her mind to take one step further and to do something more towards helping ease the water crisis at the village. This gave rise to the idea of ‘Project Water’. Through ‘Project Water’ Veronica wishes to create awareness amongst the city dwellers about the scarcity of water faced by the people in these Adivasi villages.





Veve Dance has been conducting Belly Dance classes in Mumbai since 2006; is India’s First ever Belly Dance School and is presently more than 1500 students strong. With the help of this student resource, Veve Dance wishes to create awareness and also raise funds for the building of another water treatment plant at the village.



There comes a time, when every idea or concept has to rise out of the pages of the blue print and the conceptualizer has to take a leap of faith and launch their project, unmindful of success or failure. For us at Veve Dance the time came in the form of World Belly Dance Day – 2013.

On the 11th of May, 2013, which happened to be the 7th Annual celebration of World Belly dance Day, we at Veve Dance launched our most awaited and treasured project – ‘Project Water’,  a project to help raise funds to help build a water treatment plant at the village. 




As this was our first ever World Belly Dance Day celebration, to mark the occasion, Veve Dance donated Rs. 20,000/- to the Mumbai based NGO – ATMA. The NGO works to address the issue of quality education for underprivileged children and young adults through a unique consultancy model.







We also conducted Workshops of different dance forms like the Indian Classical Dance form of Kathak and Belly dancing, free of charge, for the girl children of the adivasi village. These workshops were conducted at the Whistling Woods International Institute for Films, Media, Animation and Media Arts at Goregaon – Film City, which happens to be one of Mumbai’s best Media Arts Institute. During the entire part of the day, right from the trip from their village to the Whistling Woods Institute and then back again, the children were taken care of by DAC & Veve Dance.


Due to the enormous efforts put in by our Director Veronica, 3 other NGO's Aseema, Salaam Baalak Trust & Samarpan also joined in this special workshop. 

Aseema is a Mumbai based non-governmental organization with a mission to provide underprivileged children with a nurturing and stimulating educational environment that helps them recognize their limitless potential. Since 1997, Aseema has been providing holistic and relevant education to Mumbai's most neglected children - children living on the streets or in slums and under inhuman conditions.
http://www.aseema.org/
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Aseema-Charitable-Trust/116130035171887ref=stream


Salaam Baalak Trust was first established as a direct result of the movie Salaam Bombay! It used the power of cinema to depict the lives of street children. As the film was made with real street children, the film makers saw the potential in these children and created a trust from which programs could be implemented to provide resources and services to street children. In Bombay, the first center was opened in Dongri in association with Maharashtra State Women's Council in the 1989.
https://www.facebook.com/saalambaalak?ref=stream

Samarpan
Samarpan in an NGO started by the ER2 Academy with an aim to provide the under privileged children of Mumbai with education and helping them to incorporate the right values of life and also in overall personality development. It helps these children blossom into socially developed adults.
Everyday new activity is under taken for these kids. Different subject matters with creative interaction form a part of their regular classes. 





There were in all 120 kids from 4 NGOs dancing without inhibitions and having pure fun at the workshops arranged just for them. The light of pure joy and happiness that was shining from these kids cannot be described in mere words.





They listened to all the instructions given to them very carefully and the utter concentration with which they were executing the Kathak Todas and Belly Dancing Shimmies was very heartening. It is at instances like this when we realized how we take so many things around us for granted and the value of it is lost to us. We learnt a very important lesson from these underprivileged children; to be thankful for what we have in life and to value it forever.



We thank all the volunteers who helped us in successfully conducting these workshops. Last but not the least, a heartfelt thanks to all the NGO’s and the children without whom this event wouldn’t have been the resounding success that it was. Your smiles and laughter was our greatest reward.

-xoxo
Megha

May 1, 2013

Giving ‘FREE LOVE’ on World Dance Day





The World Dance Day is an annual celebration and was established by the International Dance Council to celebrate the passion and revolution of dance. It was started in 1982, in view of attracting attention towards the artistic and cultural aspects of dance. Every year on the 29th of April; millions of dancers around the world come together in Schools, Offices, public places and dance to their hearts in celebration.






To join and participate in this global festivity, we at Veve Dance had for the first time ever, organized 'Fusionista' - Fusion Workshops across all our branches.




Belly Dance - Kathak Fusion




Our director Veronica Simas de Souza conducted the Belly dance – Kathak fusion workshop at our Andheri branch. Veronica is a trained Kathak dancer and has been learning this dance form, from Padmashree Sunayana Hazarilal since the past 7 years and very recently presented her Rangpravesh ‘Solo-debut’ performance. 

She started the evening with a warm-up dance on the famous ‘Dil cheez kya hai’ song from the movie Umrao Jaan. Students were taught a couple of Kathak arm movements and were also guided on how to use these to frame various belly dance moves. Students were also taught basic Kathak steps and spins and they danced on many famous Kathak flavored songs like ‘Maar daala’ and ‘Kaahe chhed mohe’ from the movie ‘Devdas’.

It was a very unique workshop for all those present, because, this fusion of belly dance with Indian classical dance form of Kathak was taught very passionately by a part Brazilian - part Peruvian dancer to a spirited crowd of Indian girls.





Belly Dance - Bollywood dance Fusion




The second workshop of the evening, Belly dance – Bollywood dance fusion workshop was conducted by our Senior Instructor Sanjana Muthreja at our Andheri branch. Sanjana’s passion for dancing began with the freestyle Bollywood dance form. Before joining Veronica as a Belly dance instructor, Sanjana was a trained Bollywood instructor. 

Beginning with warm-up and all the way till cool down, Sanjana played and made the students dance to many fast paced and well-known Bollywood songs like Prabhu Deva’s ‘Muqabla’, Saat Samundar Paar, Shilpa Shetty's iconic ‘UP Bihar’ etc. Sanjana created a heady mix of different combinations, flawlessly fusing Belly dance moves with Bollywood latkhas, jhatkas and nakharas and finishing the workshop with an uproarious applause from the students in the end.






Belly Dance - Bhangra Fusion





For the first time ever in Mumbai, a very unique fusion; Belly dance – Bhangra fusion workshop was conducted by our Senior Instructor Dipika Vijay at our Andheri branch. Being a Punjabi, Dipika has grown up watching and learning at Weddings and many cultural events, the beautiful and earthy dance form of Bhangra, nowadays made famous by many Bollywood movies. She has also seen the performances of many professional Sikh troops’ and has made a study of the same.

The workshop started with Dipika sharing her knowledge about the dance form. She then taught the students various ‘thet pindi’ Bhangra and Gidda steps, demonstrated the difference between the two and mixed and made various belly and Bhangra combos. In the time slot of 2 hrs, she danced her way through 25-26 hi-octane energetic songs, that included ‘Ainvayi Ainvayi’ from the movie ‘Band Baaja Baarat’, ‘Mundian to bachke rahi’ by Punjabi MC, ‘Sadi galli’ from the movie ‘Nautanki Saala’ etc . By the end of the workshop, the students were happily buzzed out and red with blood rush.





Belly Dance - Hip-hop Fusion






The Fusion workshop of Belly dancing - Hip-hop was conducted at our Sion branch by Instructor Namrata Randhawa. Namrata a highly motivated and natural hip-hop dancer has honed her skills by training under various well-known instructors.

Students were taught basic Hip-hop moves & footwork and the technique of fusing them with Belly Dance moves. They also learnt many new and innovative combinations. All the swagger and the attitude was brought on the floor when the group picked out numbers like 'Buttons' by 'Pussy Cat Dolls', 'Move that body' by 'Nelly' etc.

The finale of the workshop was a Dance battle a la Hip-Hop style. The students were divided into 2 groups and battled each other one-on-one, in duets and also as a team. It was a wonderful feeling to watch our students let go of allll their inhibitions and battling each other with groovy moves.





Flamenco Oriental
Belly Dance - Flamenco Fusion





The very much in demand, Flamenco Oriental - fusion workshop of Belly dance and Flamenco was conducted at our Lower Parel branch by instructor Aakriti. This beautiful dance form from Andulasia holds a very special place in Aakriti’s heart and she has rigorously trained for the same, under Veronica.






Veronica has herself learnt and trained for this dance form under Master ‘Candela Soto’ at Amor de Dios, Madrid, the best and oldest institution of Flamenco in Spain.

The workshop began with the students learning fundamental Flamenco arms and moves. Then they were taught how to incorporate these arm movements into the belly dance routine, giving our authentic raqs sharqi a Spanish gypsy touch. Traditional alegrias, soleas and bulerias rhythms were played in the class to match with the hip sways, along with some of the best of belly dance and flamenco fusion music which was specially picked for the workshop. Students also danced on a few Flamenco inspired songs like ‘Udi’ from the movie ‘Guzaarish’, ‘Senorita’ from the movie ‘Zindagi na Milegi dobara’ etc. 


Through and through, twas a highly successful event, the credit for which goes to the unconditional support, love and participation of alll our students. A mighty thanks and huge applause for one and all who took part in Fusionista.



Some feedback and testimonies we received from our students-





Ravina Dahiya : Awesome workout. The best Fun class by Veve Dance… :D
Lucky and Proud to be a part of it :)
Thank you sooo much for putting up these workshops.. LOVED IT :) Can’t get over with it :)










Nidhi Bharwada : Had loads of fun in today class…. Love u guys.. Thanks…. :) 









Diya Raheja : Awsome fun classes!!! Thank you sooo much :D :D



Snehal Shende : Thankyou for such a wonderful hiphop belly fusion workshop. Loved it.







Sanjana Sharma : It was superbb Fun and the instructors were too good. So grateful to have them. The Fusion.. I never thought, anything like that could be done using belly dance.







Khushbu Patel : Hip-hop is in my body and belly is my love. So i enjoyed thoroughly those moment spent with my love :)

Had lots of funn  :)






Anjana Vaswani : The only thing more fun than dance and drama is a little more dance and drama. Blending flamenco with our belly dancing session made it even more fun than usual and that says a lot because with our instructors every class is a party.







Prajakta Prajapati : Really enjoyed the fusion and saw something new. Looking forward to more such fun events!


Looking forward for the World Dance Day, 2014 and plans are already underway to make Fusionista-2014 a much larger and rocking event.


 -xoxo
Megha

April 5, 2013

Health and Healing of Body & Soul through Belly Dancing




Belly dancing is both a relaxing and enlivening dance that can help tone the body and improve body confidence. Its physiological benefits include improved fitness, better circulation, suppleness and correction of postural alignment. On a body confidence level, many women feel they have regained their 'feminine self' and become more comfortable with their bodies through belly dancing.   






The basis of the core moves is always the center - just below the navel - or in esoteric arts the place known as the Hara, the second Chakra or simply 'the center'.




Yoga and Pilates are two popular exercises that like belly dancing, focus their energies on the 'center' and the breath.





Physical fitness can greatly improve with regular sessions of belly dancing. It helps firm and tone the muscles in a gentle way, especially the muscles of the abdomen, arms, upper back, hips and thighs. A more vigorous belly dance 'workout' lasting for at least thirty minutes, practiced 3-4 times a week, will certainly improve muscle tone and overall fitness, as belly dancing is an energetic yet fun form of aerobic dance.





Working out to fast paced, repetitious music with spicy drum beats will make the exercise more enjoyable. A series of constant stepping moves, lifting and alternating arm poses and shimmies is the basis for a safe, low impact workout. As with all aerobics safety precautions,it is advisable to begin with a warm up consisting of gentle movements, in this case shoulder rolls, arm lifts, basic step/points and circular moves. Then gradually increase speed and repetition of moves, and after the workout remember to stretch and cool down.

Here are some physiological benefits of belly dancing: 

*Improved circulation
*Improved suppleness
*Increased joint flexibility
*Deeper breathing, better oxygenation of blood
*Relaxing and calming, reduces stress
*Aerobic exercise workout - burns fat, raises metabolism & improves resting heart rate 
*Tones all major muscle groups - legs, thighs, gluteal, abdominal, upper arms, back etc
*Reduces cellulite 
*Eases PMT symptoms 
*Prepares major muscle groups for pregnant women to assist the birthing process




BELLY DANCING FOR SUPPLENESS




The suppleness and fluidity of movement necessary for belly dancing can help relax and lubricate joints and can be helpful in cases of arthritis, particularly in the wrists and shoulders. The dance, practiced gently in the beginning stages, usually produces beneficial results for muscle and joint conditioning. Participants who had suffered uncomfortable back pain or shoulder stiffness for years, have reported improvement after several weeks of belly dancing. It is becoming a popular form of rehabilitation exercise, now advised by doctors and therapists. Of course, if anyone has chronic back or knee problems, they are advised to see a doctor first before embarking on a belly dance course.





BELLY DANCING FOR RELAXATION




The relaxing benefits of belly dancing calm the mind and assist the focus required to learn new movements. Repetitious swaying, circular and flowing movements are likened to a state of dance-meditation. The dancer often finds that a session of taqsim or slow, graceful dancing will clear the mind and induce a state of mental relaxation. The faster forms of belly dance are stimulating and fun, and either slow or fast belly dancing can be useful in cases of anxiety or mild depression.





BELLY DANCING FOR BODY CONFIDENCE




Belly dancing boosts self esteem in a gentle yet powerful way. The movements are artistic and feminine, creating a positive feeling of sensual expression and freedom. With sensuality being a desirable quality of belly dancing, the dancer feels safe to explore the soft, beautiful ways the body can move. Sensual taqsim (slow circular dance) is emotively charged and deeply felt, inspired by the haunting melodies from the east. In our western society, bombarded with mixed messages about sexuality and self expression, many women find this extremely liberating. In the act of dancing with sensuality, the dancer frees herself in physical and emotional ways.

The body, which becomes increasingly supple and graceful through practicing the dance, literally learns to move more beautifully. Dancers feel a heightened sense of elegance and poise when they dance,and this delightful confidence remains long after the class or performance is finished. The body awareness that comes from belly dancing often triggers an emotional response. Women with low self image begin to honor their bodies. Participants who used to be very conscious of their weight, relax and become comfortable with their belly and hips. Voluptuous women appreciate their ample curves. Its possibly one of the most liberating arts, especially for the women of today.




BELLY DANCING FOR INNER STRENGTH AND POSITIVE TRANSFORMATION




Belly dancing brings a creative and transformative energy. As a teacher for over 10 years, our Director Veronica says that she has seen hundreds of incredible transformations in her students in terms of self confidence and personal empowerment. The strengthening effects of the earthy shimmies and grounded walking styles used in belly dance have an empowering effect too. They bring out a primal assertion in the body expression - clear and independent. 




PREGNANCY, CHILD-BIRTH AND BELLY DANCING




Belly dancing originated as a fertility rite thousands of years ago. The movements celebrated the birth process in the form of mimicry and many of the circular hip moves used in belly dancing can be seen in other dances evolved from birth-rites and celebrations of sexuality and fertility like the hawaiian Hula, polynesian Dance, african Dance, brazilian Samba and latin Lambada. Often associated with religious rites and celebrations, the primal elements of both divinity and sexuality are central to the evolution of these dance forms.





Today, belly dance is linked with birthing, mainly due to its focus on the belly and hips. As a pre-natal exercise, belly dancing in its gentler form strengthens the pelvic muscles and is relaxing for the mother-to-be. Many arab Women say shimmies should be avoided during pregnancy, but the figure eights and rolling circular movements are good preparation for childbirth. This makes sense, as the rolling movements not only feel natural, but assist with the normal pelvic relaxing process to prepare for birth and at the same time, helps to strengthen the pelvic muscles for labour and post-pregnancy recovery. Indeed, the dance can be a comfortable exercise that not only gets the mother ready for the birth process, but connects her to the unborn child through a series of movements which focus her attention on her belly. 

Midwives in the Middle East report Bedouin women birthing babies in a ceremonial way, where, in a tent with the elders, several women play tabla and breathe in unison with the mother. The communal drum beat and vocal breathing becomes part of the dance-birth process. The mother, supported by two other women, does not lie down, but rather alternates between standing and squatting, and uses hip circles and rolling motions to ease the baby into the world. Pregnant mothers find that belly dancing helps relieve them of back pain and keeps their bodies supple.





Second time mothers after taking up belly dancing, have reported much easier and relaxed births with the 'belly dance baby'. The body also gets into shape quickly, the pelvic floor is toned, incontinence is avoided due to strong pelvic floor muscles and the general condition of health is better with regular dancing sessions. Baby often likes swaying in mother's arms when she's doing figure eights and dancing to soft music! Belly dancing and birthing have been inextricably linked for thousands of years - since the days of ancient female deity worship, to tribal fertility ceremony, to the harem, to birth customs in today's Arabian villages.




MENSURATION AND BELLY DANCING


Menstruation comes from the Latin term 'menses' which means monthly. The lunar month of approximately twenty nine and a quarter days is also the approximate cyclic timing of the menstrual cycle, give or take a few days. In ancient times, the lunar cycle and a woman's menses were seen to be divinely linked. As in the ancient cult of Artemis (or Diana, Huntress of the Moon) which existed in Ephesus, near what is now Selcuk in Turkey, artemisian legend from the matriarchal religion tells that the woman's period fell on the dark moon and ovulation occurred on the full moon.



The priestesses and dancers of the Temple of Artemis would dance ecstatically on the four mountain tops of Ephesus at the time of the full moon - to celebrate their deity and to celebrate with the menfolk! The dance they did was the called the Chiftetelli - full of wild shimmies and abandoned movements danced as a fertility rite. This was the time when conception was most likely, and the dance became frenzied and trance-like with a communal ritualistic, sexual fervor  However at the time of the dark moon, the dancers would sway gently,alone and quietly rolling their hips in a meditative contemplation.

Gentle belly dance is a relaxing way to stimulate the blood flow, and for some women, to 'tune in' and enjoy their periods. Nowadays, the problem of PMS or pre-menstrual syndrome affects many young women in their child bearing years. Physical and emotional blockages can contribute to the painful condition - and stress only serves to make the problem worse. However, soothing belly dance movements such as rolling the hips, figure of eights and undulations can help to alleviate the congestion in the pelvic area. Circulation to the pelvic area improves and at the same time, the feeling of relaxation alleviates stress.

Belly dancing can help relieve PMS. Our students have over the years reported that one of the most incredible benefits of belly dancing has been the relief of PMS, which some had suffered from quite severely. Many women with PMS, never again had to deal with painful periods thanks to belly dancing. Relaxed, slow belly dancing can be beneficial for the reduction of the pain and pelvic congestion experienced several days to a week before periods. Practicing a deep belly breath whilst dancing is also helpful.