I had my first belly dancing lesson. I wanted to do some kind of exercise that would be fun, yet challenging. Your other two daughters Suzanne and Ruth agreed to learn with me.
We realized coordination skipped our family gene. Did we inherit that from you or Dad? I don’t recall seeing you dance or exercise. I know Dad danced with Clara, but I doubt he did any difficult moves like the polka or swing. I’m amazed that I can even step around in circles for a slow dance.
Belly dancing is about using isolated muscles, then incorporating that with certain movements. Chest, back, chest—moves with the right foot as you step forward. Back, chest, back—moves with the left foot—weight forward as you step. I think. There’s the upper portion and the lower portion. That in itself was hard to master, believe it or not. My sister showed her husband and he said she looked like a spastic chicken.
Now the dance steps. Flat, ball, ball, ball. (Foot flat, then up on the ball of your foot. But my brain fails to remember where my feet should go.) Then the teacher added arm movements—swinging your arms around in coordination with your feet. Yeah, right. The three of us looked like spinning tops. Either my feet moved and my arms hung down or my arms were swinging like a chimp and my feet did whatever they wanted. Moving them in unison was hopeless.
Because the classes are made to accommodate anyone—beginner to more advanced—the instructor starts from the beginning and adds a new movement each class and then starts all over again once the routine is complete. We came in near the end and after the initial warm up and beginning steps, the instructor ran through the entire belly dance (almost). We were handed silk scarves that are used in part of the routine and were told to do the best we could.
I watched the instructor and tried following her moves. I can’t believe I didn’t run into anyone. At the end of this routine, you took the scarf—after finding the end—and you’d fling it over your head. I flung it so hard you’d think I was shaking the dirt out of a floor rug. The next morning I felt like I had whiplash. I called my sisters to see if their necks hurt. No. But one sister confessed how the scarf ended up in her mouth at one point. One time she got too close to the floor fan and it nearly ate up her billowing scarf.
I gave up following the teacher because every time she went one way, I went the opposite. When her scarf was up, mine was down. I finally let loose and flung that scarf and moved about just like the time I pretended to be a ballerina as a kid and performed for you in the living room.
It was fun all right. The three of us cracked each other up—and challenging… well that’s an understatement.