Thursday, July 28, 2011

Guest Post: It's the Sparkles and the Shimmies

by AJ Reardon of Confessions of a Dance Pants Addict

When Aquariann asked me to write a guest post about belly dancing to celebrate National Dance Day, I knew I wanted to do it. I just didn't know what I wanted to write. There are just so many aspects one could go over, but the truth is, most of the more intellectual subjects have been covered by people who have danced longer and studied harder than I have, so I'm going to keep it simple and personal - I want to talk about why I love belly dance.

As a student and performer, belly dancing makes me feel amazing. There's just something about being able to move my body in ways that previously seemed impossible (rib slides? I can move my RIBS?), while being decked out in an elaborate costume. And for a shy, self-conscious, and at times clumsy girl, there is nothing quite like knowing that you're holding the attention of an entire room just by moving with the music and smiling.

As an audience member, my fellow dancers captivate me. I love that moment when the dancer looks out into the crowd, catches my eyes, and I feel like she's dancing just for me. That she knows how happy this performance makes me, and in just that moment, she's saying "This hip drop? This is for you. Thanks for being here tonight."

Ghazaal BelediGhazaal Beledi performing at the Arizona Renaissance Festival in 2010.

I love to take in every detail; the music choice, the movements, the costume. I drink it in, and I smile and clap until my face and hands hurt from the intensity of it all.

A great belly dancer illustrates the music with her body. Whether singly or in a group, dancing improvisationally or to a choreography, a great dancer seems to be in the moment, expressing the song with each movement. At the same time, she (or he!) engages the audience, with a look, a smile, or a downcast expression. The best belly dancers draw you right into the performance, and it doesn't matter if she's dancing between the tables at the shawarma house, or if he's up on the stage of the biggest theater in town.

That's not to say that I don't believe that dancers of other styles can't be just as powerful... I believe they can, and I've seen videos of some pretty amazing performances. But belly dance is the style that calls to me. I think it's the allure of the exotic; the Middle Eastern music, the tribal costumes, the ululating calls of the dancers and the audience. So when National Dance Day rolls around, I'm going to celebrate it with sparkles and shimmies, with hip drops and finger cymbals. How about you?

Sophia RavennaAJ Reardon is a tribal belly dance student and amateur performer dancing under the name Sophia Ravenna. She is currently over 200 days into a goal to practice dancing every single day for a year - but plans to keep dancing well beyond that. When not shimmying her way through life, she also creates beaded jewelry which she sells in her Etsy shop Erthe Fae Designs, reads voraciously, and writes blog posts.

Thank you for entrancing us with your love of belly dancing, AJ! Sparkling and shimmying is a dazzling way to celebrate the second National Dance Day this Saturday, July 30th. I'll be doing some of that myself, and then waltzing over to my best friend's house to play Just Dance 2 on the Wii.


  1. Looks like fun but a lot of hard work, too! Happy Dance day! Valerie

  2. Belly dancing always looks like it's so much fun!

  3. I would love to learn how to belly dance. Great post.

  4. I've never heard of National Dance Day, but I like it already!


  5. wonderful insight, Sophia Ravenna!

  6. Thank you everyone for the comments :) Belly dance is both fun AND a lot of work. It's one of those things that is easy to pick up but hard to master. I really encourage anyone who is interested to go out and find some classes to take, or pick up a good instructional DVD.


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