Like most dance styles that have been around for a while, there are always those common myths and questions that people have. I’ve collated some of the ones about belly dance below, along with some of the common themes in questions I’ve seen. There are a lot more questions than these for sure, but I’ll leave them for another day.
1. How long does it take to learn belly dancing?
All it takes is 1 lesson (yes one!) to start learning how to belly dance. However that’s not really the question here is it! The best part (for me) about belly dance is that there is no “end”. It’s not like a mountain whereby when you get to the top you can say that you conquered it. There is always more to learn, but you certainly do get to a point where you start to feel like you know what you’re doing!
2. Will I get a flat belly / lose weight / get defined abs if I belly dance?
Like all exercise classes / programs, the answer to all these question is “maybe”. While I’d love to say yes, your propensity to lose weight, get a flat belly or have abs of steel is thoroughly ingrained with your lifestyle and body type.
3. Do I need to like Arabic music to be able to learn belly dancing?
While enjoying Arabic music certainly helps (seeing as that’s the music from the culture where it all came from), there are many options and styles for those who don’t want to dance to it. But that said – you don’t have to like every piece of music you hear nor every song you dance to, so don’t let that stop you!
4. Can you belly dance while pregnant?
Yes you can. However, as with any exercise program, check with your doctor before you start or increase your level of movement while pregnant. The most important part of belly dancing while pregnant is to listen to your body and if a movement doesn’t feel like it fits on you, don’t do it. Just take it move by move, day by day.
5. Can any body belly dance?
My short answer to this is yes. My long answer to this is it doesn’t matter if you are older, younger, middle aged, female, male, non-gender-conforming, disabled, abled, injured*, have mental health problems, are just having a bad day, are enabled with higher visions, a cat person, a dog person, have 2 left feet, a big tummy or a flat tummy. Belly dance is open to all and do-able by all. Some classes may be limited to females/female presenting only to allow for the dancers to feel comfortable and safe, but that’s not to say that dancers who do not fit that niche are not allowed in any class. * If you are injured, please talk to your doctor and belly dance teacher before commencing a class. You may be limited in what you can do, but you can always be an active participant from the side of the room if your teacher allows that.
6. Is belly dance similar to pole dancing or stripping?
No. While you definitely move your body in all three, they are all very different art forms.
7. What should I wear to a class?
Something that you can move in freely. Depending on the class you are taking, you may need to wear a long skirt (for ATS as an example), but for most classes, wear comfortable clothes such as leggings. You can chose to use a hip scarf (with coins or beads) but note that some teachers don’t like you using the louder coin based ones.
8. Isn’t belly dance a fertility or birthing ritual?
There is no clear indication that belly dancing was ever used as a fertility or birthing ritual. But that’s not to say that people who wanted to get pregnant or those who wanted the baby to be born didn’t dance! From what a lot of scholars have documented so far, it has always been a family and community dance.
So there you go. There are many more questions, so stay tuned for part two coming soon.