From five years old until about fifteen I only did ballet. Strict classical ballet. I was a “bun-head” through and through. In my mid-teens I was finally introduced to other styles. At first I refused to enjoy it, but after a summer intensive where I finally did modern, jazz, hip hop, Irish, and belly dance, I realized what I had been missing by being ballet exclusive.
While all these different styles have helped me greatly as I’ve grown as an artist, the one I want to talk about today is belly dance. It has been on my mind this week as I have been cross training using the Datura Online classes.
Belly dance is very different from ballet, but it strengthens some important muscles. Working on tiny precise isolations as well as flowing undulations works muscles in in a way that is hard to train using most methods. The result is a really strong core. Abdominal muscles and back muscles tend to work simultaneously. The arms are also work hard to create a strong fluidity (much like what is needed in the swan arms in Swan Lake!). It can also be an amazing cardio workout! It takes a lot of practice to get the movements correct so everything must be drilled constantly.
Aside from the conditioning and cross training benefits, belly dance has also helped me break out of my “bun-head” shell and in the process land roles I wouldn’t have been considered for originally. Above I share a photo of when I danced the lead in the Arabian dance from the Nutcracker. It was a pas de deux (“dance for two” I had a partner). The choreography was classical, but with a twist. A few times I was doing body rolls while en pointe! It was probably the most fun I’ve ever had onstage. If I hadn’t taken belly dance classes I probably would have been considered too rigid to do the part properly and would have been skipped over.
I have recently gotten back into using belly dance as a cross training tool and hopefully can use it to my advantage again in the future. I definitely recommend trying it out!
If you are interested in getting into belly dance for the first time there are some great beginner level (as well as intensely advanced) classes on Datura Online. There are also many free resources on YouTube or elsewhere on the internet. For example: the Belly Dance Boulevard playlist.
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Some good news. I received offers from 4 different companies after my auditions! I have also selected which company I will dance at, but more on that later!
Thanks for stopping by!