(30th November, 2000) 'Age is only important,
when it comes to dead fish and good wine'
Women and men, have found this Site interesting, and have been sending me their comments from many countries -see Repartee 1999.
New countries 'writing' in 2000.....
AUSTRALIA - New South Wales;
CANADA - Nova Scotia; Victoria BC;
UK - London; Liverpool;
U.S.A. - Florida; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; New York City; Northern NY; Oregon; Philadelphia; Seattle; Southern California; Texas; Virginia; Weed, CA;
I would just like to say that your messages concerning belly dance are also conducive to younger women.
I have only recently 'discovered' this wonderful art.
But the 'DO NOT's" you mention are also embedded in my generation's psyche. After all, my Mom matured in your generation and carried those lessons to me.
My daughters also are learning and discovering this beautiful, ancient art and I absolutely LOVE watching them on their road to self-discovery and maturity.
Thank you for an excellent reference site!
Zaïda: Self-discovery is what it is all about, and not living our lives by someone else's hang-ups. You don't have to be super wonderful, or have a perfect technique. Just ENJOY!
I really felt 'at home' reading through your homepage. I found also, the explanation of some techniques by Botticelli very useful!
When I watched the videos I felt as if I were in a dance class and not in my university. I would have preferred to be in that class!
I was very lucky to find a book by the German Dancer, Dietlinde Karkutli. I love her book and every time I open it I see something (the description of a movement or important advice) that I didn't seem to have noticed before. It is really sad that she died some years ago; but I still feel the energy that comes out of her words, as if she were alive.
There is a picture of Dietlinde showing the right position to stand (knees flexed, shoulders back).. I learnt to keep this position and could feel the incredible reactivation of my belly muscles!
Zaïda: I am so THRILLED that you have learned the sheer JOY of just letting the music speak to you, instead of dancing someone else's interpretation of the music. I agree that you need to learn the moves, but to DANCE...... that is something else.
The knees flexed and shoulders back is part of the stance, but you also need to TILT your pelvis. This is not a matter of sucking in your belly muscles; it is a case of actually tilting the pelvic bones so that your spine straightens out. This takes practice, but if you do this everytime you think about it, you will soon find that it is very uncomfortable to stand in the slouch, which most people adopt. You also need to remain RELAXED. Easier said than done. But a shimmy only works if your body is a floppy as a jelly.
A REAL GENTLEMAN
Hello Zaida. I think that it is wonderful encouraging women to do belly dancing. It is good exercise. I love watching women do it.
I think that belly dancing encourages women to be proud of their bodies and show them off.
Where I am, Middle Eastern restaurants have these shows, and they are very entertaining.
I enjoyed looking at your pictures on the website; it is a very well done site. You are an attractive woman. Are there any other sites that you would recommend?
Zaïda: It is truly thrilling to receive a man's point of view on this subject, which is my passion.
If you care to go to my Links page and click on 'The Art of Middle Eastern Dance', you will be taken to Shira's site. This, in my opinion, is the VERY BEST website on belly dancing. ENJOY!
I started belly dancing last year, at age 51. I haven't had such fun in years, and am now taking 2 classes.
I was more than a little horrified when my first teacher more or less insisted that we dance this Summer at all the little local festivals, as I really didn't feel 'good' enough to dance in public.
Nonetheless I had a wonderful time, and hope to have a solo put together for next Summer.
My husband, a little to my surprise, has been enthusiastic and very helpful, he turned up at all our events with a camera, and video taped the last one. I would probably dance without his enthusiasm, but it's twice the fun if he's having fun too.
My original motivation had much to do with having discovered a great workout, which was really low impact. That shortly gave way to an obsession with the music, the dance and the costume (let's not forget the amusement of the costume), and even had I not lost 5 pounds (only 55 to go), I would have to continue.
Have a look at my website.....
Zaïda: I could not have put it better. ENJOY!
I am considering trying to do this at 54.
Zaïda: At 54 you are a whole decade younger than me.... you are still a chicken. GO FOR IT! You will never regret learning belly dancing. You will feel vibrant, healthy, full of life and best of all you will find the hidden YOU! The person who has been suppressed all these years by the admonitions not to 'show off'. NOW you can dress up with all that 1950's jewellery and put on all the eye make up you can fit onto your face and wear the brightest, sparkliest dresses. You can put glitter in your hair and on your body. You can do what pleases you. That is what belly dancing is all about. Self expression. If you prefer slinky and mysterious, that is just fine. If you prefer loud and exuberant, that is just fine. ENJOY!
Don't hesitate. You will never look back. Open that door and find a whole new world.
Thank you for this Website; it is awesome [a term I normally reserve for God :) ]
I have forwarded it to a young friend of mine who needs exercise but cannot handle high impact aerobics.
I appreciate your page on Attitude. I think this is a form of exercise that nurtures one's femininity, something that sweating with the oldies just will not do; and it could come in handy for inter-personal entertainment.
Zaïda: Belly dancing is for EVERYONE. It is as gentle or as vigorous a you like to make it..... and you don't have to keep up with anyone else. Also, it makes you feel good about yourself; AND you have a Party Piece.
OLDER - not Oldest
I danced professionally in the 60's & 70's. I still have one of the skirts I made in the 60's and it will not go round my hips... about a 6 inch gap.
If I had the nerve, I'd still dance, even if it was for variety and just to show off. Of course, I fear ridicule, mostly from persons I know; but if I get up the guts, I will do it. After all I used to teach as well as perform and I feel I am that same person even though nature has thrown me a curve.
I don't have a panic attack while dancing.
Zaïda: If you allow other people's minds to enclose your life, you will be willingly placing yourself in a prison of their making.
A lady once said to me, "That's RUDE", when I told her I was a belly dancer. My immediate thought was, 'No wonder your marriage broke up'.
Older dancers can bring a 'joie de vivre' to the dance, which younger dancers have yet to learn. We have the poise, the self-confidence, the sensuality, which younger women are still discovering. A dancer can make all the moves, but if the inner person is still un-ripe, the flavour will be not full-bodied and I mean that in every sense of the word. Belly dancing is for the full figured woman. She has enough flesh to SHIMMY!!!!!
I have just completed my 40th public performance and this in just 4 years..... mainly for nursing homes or fund-raisers. The residents in the nursing homes are a very receptive audience and love entertainment. Many have never seen a live belly dancer in their very long lives. I love to 'play up' to the old men. This makes the staff apprehensive, watching carefully for signs of a heart attack, but the sheer glee on the men's faces is ample reward.
Dance, and ENJOY!.
ONLY FOR 'BAD GIRLS'
I'm 40, have always wanted to belly-dance, but thought it only for 'bad girls'..... that upbringing thing, again.
No classes near me.... can you recommend a good video?
Zaïda: Hollywood has a lot to answer for.... belly dance only gained its unsavoury reputation when the word Baladi (meaning music to be accompanied by dance) was mistaken for Belly, as it is pronounced Beh Leh Dee.
The focus is on the abdominal region, as that is where most female 'problems' occur.
Belly dance, over the centuries has evolved to help alleviate 'women's troubles', such as difficult childbirth/menstruation etc.
Learning to control and to build the strength in the muscles, thus massaging the internal organs in this area, solves many ills encountered by women, no matter what their age.
I do not teach, nor sell anything, but you may like to look at my Links page at The Art of Middle Eastern Dance. Shira has an extremely informative site.
WEB CENTRE FOR MIDDLE EASTERN ARTS
have a look and see if you like it:
I'm 56 years old and terribly out of shape; and just starting belly-dancing classes. I'm so grateful that my teacher is willing to come to my home; I don't think I could handle a class - but it is really good, if a bit painful, so I think it will only get better after a few classes. She is wonderful and working at my pace entirely. I was the one pushing a bit, since I don't really know my limits at this point.
I've been doing some surfing and feel fortunate to have come across your site. What a delight!.
Thanks for the encouragement and the thoughtfulness, along with all the information and lovely photos. Good work!
Come and visit me at my website:
Zaïda: I am so glad you have taken the first steps into the world of belly dancing. I urge you to join a group as soon as you feel sufficiently confident. The sheer energy you get from a group of women all doing something they are passionate about.... you just cannot BUY that; and until you experience it, you will not know what I am talking about.
Belly dancing is not an exercise routine.... although it is about the best form of exercise you may encounter.
Belly dancing is a philosophy for LIFE.. Belly dancing will enhance or change your self-image and empower you to be YOURSELF. You will gain self-confidence, poise, inner balance and the sheer joy of living.
As soon as you feel ready, ask your teacher to include you in a group outing with other students in her 'stable'; when they go to an Arabic hafla or restaurant or whatever. You will gain a whole circle of new friends and discover a world you never knew existed.
Of course there are egos, but you learn to flow around them and just ENJOY the essence of the dance. The greatest benefit will be your feeling of well-being as your health and stamina improve.
Two of us have been asked to dance at a friend's wedding, whilst the photos are being taken. How do you judge a routine for that type of audience? How do you get the crowd with you?
Zaïda: My SUGGESTION, and it is only a suggestion... is for you to consider how long the photo session will take, the type of people in the audience and your own preferences.
I would suggest a duet to start; something slinky with veils, and very short, as an introduction and to warm up the audience.
Then you each do a solo to the sort of music you each prefer and can interpret in your own way.
Finally, a duet where you can encourage members of the audience to join in; this would enable you to stretch out the entertainment until the wedding party returns. I suggest you have an encore tune ready in case you need to fill in more time.
If you have a 'lookout' posted to warn you when the wedding party returns you may form a guard of honour by stretching a long veil across the door and keeping it aloft with gentle flits as the wedding party walks underneath.
Thank you for being on the net. Yours was the first I found, one day and from that point on, my life has been changed.
I am a belly dancer now, due to your insight and encouragement I find on your website.
I still direct people to it, as one of the most encouraging, beautiful sites in the field.
Zaïda: My aim is to tell all women, everywhere about the sheer JOY of bellydance. ENJOY
I am a 53 year old belly dancer and I recently moved into a phase of doing little choreography in some solo numbers, particularly if they are done to Arabic 'pop' music.
Recently, a comment from a fellow dancer was repeated to me,
"Oh, you don't choreograph your numbers, you just look as if you are enjoying yourself... and you sing along".
Do I mend my ways, does it really matter?
After all, I do hope to entertain, as well as enjoy myself.
My teachers give conflicting opinions, so I'm asking for an impartial comment from you as you seem to impart a lot of sense on your site.
Zaïda: You need to understand that many teachers come from a classical ballet background. They have, from early childhood, been through years and years and years of rigid training, so they are now brain-wired into dancing to a strict choreography. I think that many of them would find it impossible to dance without a 'script'.
You are not constricted by this indoctrination and can therefore let the music talk to you.....and HEAR it!
Dancers in Egypt sing along and interact with the audience, and so their dance changes with each audience.
This dance is about having FUN. Do it YOUR way.
One comment I would like to make - if you make eye contact with a male in the audience, and his lady is with him - the instant his eyes 'flick', move away. You don't want to embarrass anyone, or cause the poor bloke to 'cop any agro' from his lady.
I have been bellydancing for just over a year now; it was recommended to build lung capacity, as I am an asthmatic with a bum hip.
At first I felt like a klutz, as I am close enough to sixty to be worried and the next oldest person in my class is 30; but I can keep up with them and I have a blast.
A lot of beginners drop out as they have unrealistic goals, like losing 25lbs in ten weeks, without dieting.
Those of us who are willing to put in the work, learn a lot, laugh a lot and generally have fun.
You seem to have found that breaking the rules of polite behaviour, which we had drilled into us as girls, as much fun as I do.
We all gain self-confidence, and one of the teenagers, described as shyer than a mouse by her Mum, had the courage to dance in her high school talent show. We all went to support them. They did a fully professional job and, as we noted, were more modestly dressed than many of the girls in the audience!.
'If someone puts money in your bra; they like your dancing. If they put it in your belt; they are not impressed.' (comment made by a dancer who has experience in this area.)
Wanted you to know I've enjoyed your website. I dance twice a month at a Middle Eastern Restaurant, called Deli Plus in Va. Beach Virginia.
Zaïda: Good food and bellydancing. HEAVEN!!!!!
It was so exciting for me when I found your site.
I am 54, and many years ago I belly danced in Germany. I was featured on TV in Baden-Baden for the history of musical instruments.
I don't do the dance now, for one thing, I am totally out of shape and way overweight, but I still love the dance and I constantly look at belly dance sites looking for performance videos.
I want to purchase a performance video of your group.
Zaïda: How thrilling to actually be featured on TV.
I don't teach, or sell anything, so I don't have a video.
My aim is to encourage older women to enjoy belly dancing and forget their shape, weight, lack of muscle-tone, colour of their eyes or whatever other reason they can think of to prevent themselves from experiencing the most wonderful thing an older woman can do to keep her body fit and healthy.
As you have danced before, you are WAY ahead of the game and only need the courage to start dancing.
You don't have to wear a cabaret costume, just try the moves and each day you will regain some of your flexibility. ENJOY
I just had to comment that I love your Belly Dance website. I'm a beginner dancer.
I have actually visited Mackay - my grandpa and I went to Queensland in 1994, before the bellydance wave hit! I'll never forget the Rainbow Lorikeets.
Thanks for the great photos, articles and links. Do you know of any sources to order silk veils, online?
Zaïda: If you go to my Australian Belly Dance Links on my Links page .... that page is actually a page in SHEMS website She is in the USA and deals in Silk Veils, if you click on the right-hand icon at the bottom of the page, you will enter her website.
I find that Veils are a very personal choice. It depends on your style of dance. If you want floaty, mysterious, drifting movements, then Silk is the obvious choice. If you want to use a mixture of float and sharp movements, then chiffon has more body.
My personal preference is Crystal Organza, which is fairly stiff and won't drape on your body, but it floats beautifully and has a lot of SNAP for fast movements.
You pays your money and makes your choice.
I am so pleased you have pleasant memories of your stay in Mackay. We get Rainbow Lorikeets infesting a tree in the front of our house, whenever the blossoms are in bloom. They all talk at once, at the tops of their voices.....and not one of them listens!
I am really enjoying surfing your website. I am now 43, have been belly dancing for about 10 years, and have no intention of stopping for a long time yet!
What I would really like to see is any articles, supporting the health benefit of this dance form.
I am presently recovering from a lower back injury (bulging disk), and would like to be able to show something to my doctor (who knows nothing about belly dancing). I am also planning to see a rehab personal trainer, and would like to get her opinion also.
Any help would be appreciated.
Zaïda: My information is only hearsay, from professional people, but hearsay all the same. I cannot quote chapter and verse from scientific studies. The proof is in the pudding. I am enjoying better health now, at 63 than I ever did in the past 6 decades.
Strengthening the abdominal muscles will take the strain off your spine. Learning the correct stance will take the strain off your spine. Gaining self-esteem will eliminate stress and thus take the strain off your spine. You would be surprised how much strain on the spine (and internal organs) is generated by stress.
I thoroughly enjoyed your website. Maybe I can even make the lake applet work for me.
I suppose I qualify as an 'older woman' considering I never took a dancing class 'til I was 40, and that was seven years ago.
I am now writing a book about bellydance costume and maybe you've seen my advise column in Shira's website.
I liked the advice you gave to the woman who was self-conscious about her belly. It was almost identical to the advice I gave women asking the same question of me.
Maybe you wouldn't mind exchanging Links. Check out my website and let me know....
Zaïda: I have forwarded a copy of your email to my Webmaster and he can put up a Link to your site and check the Lake applet.
I asked him to put the Link on my Costume page, so that it doesn't get lost in the general pack of Links.
Your site looks great! I will have a lovely browse.
Hi. I'm the Beauty Guide at About.com and I have just decided to offer links to bellydance sites, and yours was one of the first that I visited.
I never thought of it earlier, but I think this could be a great form of exercise for my readers and you have so much to offer.
Actually, I am thinking about trying this out! The inches that must come off the waist area must be incredible. I think my readers are going to love this.
Zaïda: I am thrilled that you have discovered my website and the value of bellydancing for health. I cannot SHOUT it loud enough. You will feel marvellous within three months and your self-image will be enhanced. Also, you will have a party piece, which will blow the socks off the others doing their soprano songs or gum leaf tunes.
You will not lose WEIGHT, as muscle is heavier than fat, but you will become lean, trim, fit and healthy.
I am an older woman who has just started dancing.
I found your home page the best around. I especially was impressed with the videos and I have learned some incredible veil moves, thanks to you!
I showed my teacher the move I learned from your video and she was so excited. It's so nice to be able to give her something back.
Thanks for a great contribution to us older girls You Inspire! Thanks again from the U.S.!!!!!!!!!
Zaïda: I wondered whether the videos and photos had any practical value. Your comments are truly appreciated.
Your site is an inspiration! It is very refreshing and full of true dance, joy and spirit.
I live in the currently frozen tundra near the Canadian border and have studied, performed and loved Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dance most of my life.
It is a blessed and unique bond of those of us who respond to the hypnotic, elegant, mysterious, joyful sounds of Belly dance music.
I have witnessed so many women over the years who reclaimed a lost part of themselves; or discovered a self they did not realise existed - by the simple act of being involved in bellydancing.
People remark on my youthful appearance and demeanour - though at 50 I know I'm still a spring chicken! I definitely attribute this to my association with Bellydance. This has given me the way to view myself in the world as a passionate and lively woman who grows into age with ripeness, eager for each new adventure. All the many facets of the movements, undulations, muscle strengthening hip drops, pops, locks etc. and the yoga-like warmups lead to such a supple body. You just can't beat the benefits.
Many women start this dance at an age when many folks think they can't 'learn new tricks'. But they persevere and blossom. It is the greatest gift.
Zaïda: Thanks a million (in this new millennium) for your lovely email. You gave my day a HUGE lift.
QUARTER CENTURY IN THE WINGS
I took a brief (3 month) Middle Eastern Dance class in Florida, about 25 years and 50 pounds, ago.
Recently, I started ME dancing (in my 60th year of life) with some nervousness about what the younger classmates would think about it. They and the instructor have been very encouraging, but your web site is really helpful. What a joy to find it.
I also started Feldenkrais bodywork; I believe the combination has given me a healthier body. Quite a treat as I age! Perhaps gracefully.
Zaïda: I get a real thrill, when I get email from a new part of the world.
You will find your health, your self-image, your joy of living, all enhanced as you progress with your dancing. You will be the envy of much younger people, and you will have a 'party piece' to show off your new skills, once you have gained confidence.
I have received nothing but encouragement from everyone, and am really passionate about belly dancing and its benefits. ENJOY!
My wife is one of the over 40 gang, and is taking up belly dancing. She feels, as she puts it, a little uncomfortable showing her jelly belly and large belly button.
Her friends tell her that the belly button is the focal point and an important part of the body in order to do 'real' belly dancing. They say that unless you expose your full belly, even well below the belly button, that all your movements will be hidden.
So, what do you think? Is the belly button and belly vital for the dance and necessary to be shown?
My wife awaits your reply. Thanks.
Zaïda: Salaam, husband of wife with jelly belly! Greetings to You.
Please tell your lovely lady that there is no UNIFORM for belly dancing, and one of the most common garments worn is the beledi dress.
This is a straight dress, with slits up the sides. The dress may be made of see-through material, in which case you wear harem pants underneath; or the dress may be made of solid material, in which case your underwear is your own business.
I bet your wife has beautiful ankles, or shoulders, or eyes. Her costume should emphasize her good points and minimize her weaker points.
The modern cabaret costume has been glamorised by Hollywood. I like the cabaret costume, myself, only because I have a terrific waistline for a bird of 63 ::smile::. When I find I feel uncomfortable in a cabaret costume, I will wear a beledi dress. They are lovely.
Belly is a corruption of baladi (pronounced beh - leh - dee) and through common usage in Australia is it now spelled beledi, which means folk dance, or dance of the people, or music to be accompanied by dance. The absolute essence of belly dancing is to feel comfortable and happy with your own body. You wear the style of costume which makes you feel most comfortable.
In Egypt it is illegal to display the belly button and this must be covered with at least a body stocking. It is considered disgusting to place a jewel in the navel.
The belt is the focus of belly dancing. This, worn low on the hips, will display all your movements, if the belt is designed with lots of dangly, glittery, jingly bits. The belt is heavy, thus grounding the dancer, and draws attention to the HIPS.
This dance is for sheer pleasure. The fact that it will improve your health beyond your wildest dreams is a major bonus. ENJOY!