By Chelsea Parker
This week my challenge was to attend a belly dancing class at The Studio: Art & Movement, located on King Street five minutes west of Flagler. Even though I arrived a few seconds late I was still greeted warmly and then whisked away to the dance floor, where class had already begun.
Everyone was lying on the floor stretching, so I quickly squeezed in. Although my body was slightly contorted, it felt good to stretch out. We then stood up and continued to stretch our necks, arms, and hips. I looked over at my new teacher, Kawakeb. She looked exactly like what a belly dancer should look like, and I knew then I was learning from a pro. We learned the anticipated hip shake and moving our head side to side while our hands were pointing up over our heads. Then we practiced moves to be jealous of: the Shakira chest shake and the coveted body roll.
With the background of loud Middle Eastern music, we began to learn a short routine. It’s really fun because we’re pretending to perform for what seems like a mostly male audience, as we are supposed to smile and have very expressive eyes (my friends and I call them “bedroom eyes”). Even though everyone’s not at the same skill level, the teacher takes time to work with everyone and eventually we’re all ready to move. We go through the entire dance a few times and I am really getting a workout. By the time we realize it’s time to leave, I am sweaty and sore, but I feel good. After the class I talk to Kawakeb. She says she wishes to make the Ancient City famous for ancient dance. Belly dancing is the oldest dance in creation and has survived as ultimate symbol of feminine sensuality. The commercialism, changing times and religious disapproval cannot extinguish the art. She also stresses it isn’t just for women; men can belly dance too!
The Studio: Art & Movement has classes almost every morning and evening including mat pilates, kripalu yoga, pilates/stretch (abbreviated pilates with more stretching), move (incorporates jazz and modern dance), and many other workshop classes, like belly dancing and salsa. Luckily, most of these events have a cheaper student rate. For additional information call (904) 429-0356.