REPARTEE - 2002
(22nd December, 2002)
'Age is MENTAL - not chronological'
AUSTRALIA - AUSTRIA - CANADA - HUNGARY - UK - USA
Zaida: G'Day! It is lovely to hear from you. I have found the system which works best with my 'older' dancers...... we start off all doing the same step, say the 'grapevine', then we break out into individual moves as they interpret the music, then we come together doing a short sequence all together, then break away again, then another short sequence etc until the finale at the end of the music. We dance in an anti-clockwise circle... that is just the way they seem to travel, automatically. This also has the sneaky effect of bringing each dancer to the front, whether she likes it or not ::grin::
RELIEF FROM DEPRESSION
I enjoyed your beautiful, informative website. I have been teaching in the Chicago area for over 30 years. My students range in age from 10 to 81. I have a belly dancing class especially for seniors. I am a junior senior myself. My seniors don't let me call myself a senior. They will always remain older than me.
They report many of the benefits of belly dancing that you list; cessation of lower back pain, relief from depression, becoming more assertive, spinal flexibility, etc.
I am happy to see belly dancing is alive and well in Australia. Keep up the good work -
Zaida: thanks for your encouraging comments. I have been teaching for less than 2 years and have surprised myself by how much I enjoy it. We are all in our 60's and 70's and have formed a very close circle of friends (including 2 husbands who act as cameraman and drummer when we go out to perform).
There is nothing better than belly dancing.....
Several months ago I e-mailed you when I joined a dance class and felt old and (possibly) unable to keep up. I just wanted to thank you for your words of encouragement. Since about 3 weeks ago I am dancing with her performing troupe and have participated in 2 performances. (What fun!)
The teacher is supportive and no one shows any awareness that anyone is older or younger than any one else. I am the oldest at 50 next week and one of the girls is (I'd guess) 16 or 17. All the other dancers but one are in their 20s. We have a blast. Thanks again.
Hi! I am a man, interested in belly dancing classes for abdominal workout... in the States. Any suggestions?
Zaida: I suggest you go to my page 'For Men', and then go to Ankh's website and talk with him. He is a really lovely fellow and you will find him most helpful. He should be able to point you in the right direction.
A BOOK FOR HUNGARY
I was glad to discover your site quite a few months ago (I am 50, and began belly dancing less than two years ago), and I keep visiting it: I enjoy it very much.
I was very surprised to see in Repartee 2002 now that there is a Hungarian 38 year old mother of four who is planning to write a book about belly dancing. I am very happy about it, and I would be willing to help her. (I myself also fancied the idea, but I have to face reality: I will never have the time to take the task.)
I would greatly appreciate, however, if you gave me the e-mail address of this lady, so that I could get in touch with her.
Zaida: Thankyou for your lovely comments. I always get a thrill when someone lets me know they have discovered belly dance.
If you give me your permission, I will pass your email address on to the lady in Hungary and she can decide whether to contact you. I think she is a lovely person.
'She is a singer, and therefore capable of anything' Bellini
Zaida: "She is a singer, and therefore capable of anything." says it all.
CHEAP BELLY DANCE COSTUME
Hello I have just found your web page. I am an older and I am trying to teach myself to belly dance I would love to have a costume I do not have a lot of money, but would try and make one myself .Do you know if I could buy a pattern or could you help me to get some idea's.
EMPOWERMENT OF WOMEN
Thanks so much for being there, you are needed and appreciated! Sincerely, Arianna
WOW !!!! Your site is fabulous. I have always wanted to try belly dancing but have never had the courage. I really want to try it. I used to love to dance and still enjoy it but have a hard time due to an ankle break.
My Doctor wants me to do a low impact work out - this really looks like the ticket.
Thanks so much for a great site with good encouragement!
Zaida: Kris, belly dancing would be perfect for you. There is no need to do any moves which you find difficult or painful. I keep telling my 'girls' "If you feel pain. STOP!"
Most of belly dancing is in the torso and there is no need to move the feet more than you wish. You find the style which suits you. My personal preference is to leap and whirl about like a mountain goat.
One of my dancers likes the cool, calm, collected style with little movement around the floor but lots of hip and arm movements. You pays your money and takes your choice.
Find a teacher who is sympathetic to your needs and you will never look back .... ENJOY!
'I yam what I yam'... Popeye
I just read your article on male dancers. This week-end I had the pleasure of attending a work shop with Beata and Horacio Cifuentes of Germany. If you want to see a fantastic male dancer, Horacio Cifuentes if the guy to see. He and his wife are a beautiful and talented team, but he is unbelievable.
The work shop was very informative, but the performance last night was something I will never forget. My husband and I just can't stop talking about it.
Their web sight is www.oriental-fantasy.com. You might want to check it out. They have videos and CD's available. It is well worth a look if you don't know about them. I had never heard of them, but I am new to oriental dance too.
DANCING FOR A DECADE
Dear Zaida! I am so happy to read this page. I have been dancing for 9 years now. I am
49 years of age. I love to dance, I need to dance like I need food and water. It is part of my life.
But I was questioning myself (am I too old to dance) Seeing your site is a relief. Now I know that no matter what age a women is, she will always be beautiful especially if she is dancing. Thank you
Zaida: G'Day. You are NEVER too old to dance. I have an 83 year old in my group.
You do what you can and adjust the steps to suit your abilities. As you have been dancing for a decade already, I am sure those abilities are phenomenal. Keep that shimmy going and ENJOY!
FIRST PUBLIC PERFORMANCE
Thanks for a wonderful site. I am a 40 year old mom who attends dance class once a week, for the last two years. As a non-athlete with a desk job, back problems and bunions, I found it intimidating to be dancing alongside twenty year olds with a decade of dance and gymnastics already under their beaded and bangled belts! Let me share a few of my secrets for really enjoying class and getting to that next level of performance.
1) I had worked with free weights for the year before I started class. Now I stretch a LOT more, and do weights rarely. I am, strangely enough, stronger than I have ever been.
2) Daily - or nearly daily - yoga practice has helped me strengthen muscles, stretch, and improve balance considerably. Yoga has also improved my focus when I am faced with a "follow what I do" teacher. Swimming a few laps every couple of days has freed up my shoulders and REALLY improved endurance.
3) There is room for videotapes, but not necessarily "belly dance instruction" tapes. During yoga practice, Wei Lana's tapes help me to maintain poses for a sufficient length of time, something I had no idea about when I was working from a book.
4) Look for the specific hurdles you must overcome. Some of my specific worries: my legs tired very quickly, so I did lunges to strengthen my thighs; I was uncomfortable "travelling", and the best tape to remedy that was Richard Simmons' Disco Sweat! After a few tries, I was shifting weight gracefully, mastering space orientation, and thinking fast on my feet, while having a blast. Because it wasn't a belly dance tape per se, the anxiety borne of emotional investment was low.
5) Don't discount the foot factor: it's taken a couple of years for my bunion-riddled flattening feet to grow strong and 'un-deform' themselves. The change is miraculous!!!
6) Remember you have wonderful, unique talents!!!! I have thirty years' experience in home sewing, and as a result, I am the resident costuming expert. Every class I'll bring in something to show the youngsters: a simple skirt, some wonderful earrings, a magnificent belt embellished with affordable decoration, and encourage them to try their hand at making at least part of their costume.
7) Lastly, you also have LIFE experience. The youngsters see in me something that they are desperately looking for themselves, but don't quite know how to achieve: a good and lasting marriage, motherhood, a good job, and a considerable amount of happiness and creative fulfilment. I am a living example that wisdom comes with age!
We are a close-knit group and enjoy each other's company, but not to the exclusion of any new-comers who drop in to 'give it a try'. Anybody interested enough to come along is warmly welcomed into the circle and I often see one of the more experienced dancers helping a new-comer with a particular move.
I am 40 and love the art of Belly Dancing. I used to do belly dancing; unfortunately our teacher left before we could become fluent in the dance. We learned the basics and later I went and bought myself a video and a book.
I would love to get back into belly dancing and become good enough to share this with other women in my home town. I have had a lot of women ask me about learning the dance. It makes you feel good about your body and very feminine, no matter what size you are. Plus it is the best form of exercise I could imagine. Having fun, feeling good about yourself and exercising all at the same time. Also it makes you feel very sensual.
I was wondering if you have any teaching videos out or know of somewhere in Australia where I can get one that is not too expensive. One that you could recommend that is really good for beginners to intermediates. Thank you kindly for your inspiring web site. Keep dancing!
Zaida: Sorry I can't help with the teaching video. Amera's Palace in Sydney sells all sorts of belly dance stuff and she may have a good teaching video. The videos I have seen have varied from truly, truly basic with most of the video taken up with introduction 'glitz' and very little substance in the video, to intermediate - which is O.K. if you are past the beginners stage.
My best suggestion to you is to start your class and take it a week at a time. Just keep one step ahead of your students. You will find they will lag behind you all the time, no matter how good they get, as you have the status of being TEACHER.
I dislike the chorus-line which has evolved in the USA. I feel this is an individual dance. So I encourage my students to listen to the music and interpret it in their own way. Some of them CAN. Some of them say they need to be told what to do - for those - I get four of them to nominate a move each and then we do a little sequence using those four moves, to whatever music I choose to play, and I make sure it is never the same music, so that they get to 'feel' the music. Then I get another four to nominate a move each and we all do those four moves as a sequence to different music. It seems to be working well as far as teaching them how to put moves to music.
I am sure that as you are not a novice, you really do not need a video. Be sure to take them through a gentle warmup routine before you start. Do what YOU feel is right. You will change your approach to teaching several times before you find what works best for you and your dancers.
Best of luck and ENJOY!
'Thank you for your inspiration! I am 49 years old and am in pretty good shape, but have been insecure about belly dancing. I bought some videos and danced at home, but wanted to take a 'real' class. Went last week and could have been everyone else's Mom. I suspect I'm even 15 or 20 years older than the teacher.
I could barely keep up with the warmup, even though I have exercised for 20 years. Though I was going to try another class or two I was a bit discouraged.
I found your web site today and I will continue, even if I have to eventually find another teacher. I love music and I have loved the little dancing I have done. I'm one of those people who can't sit still when she hears music. Thanks for the encouragement!'
Zaida: I have heard about these classes which are aerobics classes rather than belly dance classes. Not good. A warmup is just that. Slow, gentle deep breathing, stretching and improving flexibility. You could do yourself an injury with a WILD warmup. I have had new students comment, at the end of a class, "You don't seem to be doing much, but it sure gives you a workout". They find out how 'unfit' they are.
Don't let yourself be discouraged by the fact that you are older than all the others in your class, even your teacher. If they have a problem with that, then it is THEIR problem not yours.
I tell my students to STOP if they feel pain and that they should go at their own speed. I have an 83 year old who has just joined us and she said she would have to go 'slower'. I assured her that she could go at whatever speed suited her. She will find, in time, that she will become fitter, more flexible and HAPPIER. Take it SLOW, but most of all ENJOY.
WHAT'S THE HARM?
I am a 49 year young woman who took bellydance 20 years ago. Recently I had some bouts of a bursitis in my shoulder, aches and pains, etc. I decided that to get back to a regular exercise routine would help. I have taken karate and decided that was too painful and demanding.
My first love, bellydance, was what I decided to do. At first, I felt a little 'silly' but after listening to the music and moving my body in a way that I hadn't for a long time, to music, I knew this was the way to go! I am kicking myself for ever having given it up in the first place.
I live in a small town and have always been the sort to start something new. So, when I found myself lonely in the dance, (as there are no teachers or dance groups around), I decided to offer the girls I work with, a few lessons in bellydance. The second night of my 'classes' I had 18 women enrolled. This is more than I bargained for!
I was only at the intermediate level. The girls just love it and can't get enough. I am having some problems planning a class schedule. How much time to spend on a specific move, etc. But I am going ahead and loving it. It is the opinion of some that a person shouldn't think of teaching if they haven't had extensive training themselves. I do pay attention to proper warm-ups, strength training, and history and culture of the dance. I am trying to sort out the various types of music, but my philosophy has been to hear and feel the music and become the music. I don't interpret what type it is but react to it.
The same with playing zills, Just play them. If you're off, you'll hear it! This is making me feel a little 'guilty', (I am studying zill patterns for specific music).
I don't charge anything for my instruction and they all feel that I am a great teacher. I feel that as long as we are all getting some exercise and having some fun then WHAT'S THE HARM?
You have been a great inspiration to me. I am enjoying something for the first time in a long time and I just want to spread the joy of the dance.
Zaida: This is EXACTLY my philosophy of the dance. It is NOT ballet, where moves and dancers have to be a certain shape.
This is the dance of the people. You become the music. You dance YOUR dance. I could not have expressed it better. ENJOY!
NICE TO KNOW
'It is so nice to know that there are other, older women out in the world trying to learn how to dance, too. I am soon to be 49 and started taking lessons about 6 months ago. I felt like the most awkward, uncoordinated person in the world. Slowly it is getting better and I am starting to enjoy the freedom of dancing. We may be half a world apart, but we are sisters in dance. Thanks for the advice and inspiration. Keep it up!'
'Hi! I attended some of Diana's classes with you in Mackay. I have been living in the United Kingdom for the last 10 months and have just finished 8 weeks of classes that I finally found close to where I am living - which I thoroughly enjoyed.
Diana is truly magical when she dances. I do miss her classes.'
Zaida: Diana no longer teaches, which is a crying shame, as she is far and away the best dancer I have ever seen and that includes videos from other countries.
She told us of an incident when she went to Egypt with a group of teachers and they were taught by some of the top teachers in Egypt. The man would SHOUT at them and she thought, 'if he shouts at me, I shall burst into tears'. After a while the teacher came up real close to her, put his face right up to hers and said softly, 'Beautiful'. That says it all!!!!
'I am an Hungarian woman (38) mother of 4 children. I started to learn bellydance last year. I wanted to know more about it, but in the Hungarian language we do not have any books, articles about this exciting topic.
I decided to write a book about Oriental Dance. I started to search on Internet and have found your fantastic website. It helped me a lot. I would like to ask your permission to use your articles or quote from them with your name.
I really do not know how and when I will publish the book. In Hungary ( 10 million inhabitants) Oriental Dance is just starting to be of interesting for people. There are about 6 or 7 studios with six or seven hundred students and there are 5 to 6 publishing company who may be interested in a bellydance book. I did not asked them yet, but I am going to.'
Zaida: Your email gave me a real thrill. It is so wonderful that bellydance has 'invaded' Hungary. My only aim with my website is to encourage women to at least TRY this dance. If I can help you in any way with your project I will be most happy to do so.
STYLE AND WIT
'I came across your website by sheer accident and I am so glad that I did!
I am extremely impressed with how you come across as both a dancer and a person. I love your style and wit and I would be very pleased to share links with you.
I feel this is a great resource for my students and other visitors. I am very pleased to make your acquaintance and again, ....... GREAT SITE!'
Zaida: I really lap up comments such as this..... MORE! MORE!
DANCING IS SUCH A FRAGILE THING
'It is incredible how much a dancer can give others of herself, her body to watch, her feelings to share. Dancing is such a fragile thing; it is a precious present to others.
You look strong and determined on the cover of your book. People may think the title is wrong because you look so young!'
Zaida: I am glad the photo on the cover of my book is giving that impression. When I first saw that photo (taken by a stranger) - as I was searching for the right one for the cover - my immediate response was 'YES!'. It conveyed exactly the feeling I wanted.... 'I am going to do this and nobody can stop me'.
ANKH'S AUTOGRAPHED COPY
'I have received the copy of the book! It came at a time that I really needed a spark of joy. Thank you! It looks so nice, you did an excellent job of writing. Thank you for all the nice things you said about me in print.
ENJOY! You have reason to celebrate'
Zaida: Ankh, you made a major contribution to the book, and I thank you. This project has been very exciting and enjoyable.