SHAKE IT OFF: Belly dancers Sarah Weber, Sharon Bishop, Marianne Gosen, Idell Wadley and Leeanne Solly look forward to their weekly lessons.
SHAKE IT OFF: Belly dancers Sarah Weber, Sharon Bishop, Marianne Gosen, Idell Wadley and Leeanne Solly look forward to their weekly lessons. Meg Bolton

How to accept your belly, whether it's perfect or not

AT first glance, the belly dance classes at Cura Life Yoga Centre, Gatton, might just seem like just a bit of fun, but the weekly classes are also teaching women a deeper lesson.

While the women get their exercise and social fix, they also practise self-acceptance as they learn how to contort their bodies in new ways.

Participant Marianne Gosen said since starting belly dancing six weeks ago, she'd found muscles she didn't know she had.

"I've learned they work separately, it doesn't always have to be one big movement,” Mrs Gosen said.

Belly dancing has not only provided an inclusive atmosphere for Mrs Gosen to experiment new moves, but she also enjoys trying the costumes traditionally linked to the dance.

Bellydance teacher Idell Wadley said her ultimate goal was to provide a safe space for women to learn a new way to explore culture and a new way of self-expression.

"We probably burn more calories laughing than we do anything else,” Mrs Wadley said.

"But it's self-acceptance, not being afraid to show their belly whether they feel comfortable or not.

"It's about not being afraid to wiggle and giggle.”

Mrs Wadley has been belly dancing for 44 years, but at first she didn't even know she was doing it.

The 52-year-old started when she was just a child, performing the dance alongside children in her neighbourhood.

"I grew up with a lot of Arabic children so instead of playing hopscotch in the playground this is what we did - this was our expression,” she said.

A lifetime later, Mrs Wadley introduced the art to like-minded women.

"It's a lovely group of women coming together, celebrating our femininity, enjoying the music, enjoying some gentle fun exercise,” Mrs Wadley said.

Through their love of dance strong bonds also developed in the class.

Dance participant Leeanne Solly said the alternative exercise had served as a lifeline to women in the community.

After moving to the region six months ago, she had used the classes to foster confidence and a sense of belonging.

"This is my tribe,” Mrs Solly said.

The belly dance classes will run concurrently with the school terms for the rest of the year.

Participants in the one-hour weekly lessons focus on the techniques required for an end-of-year performance.


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