When the world was introduced to Colombian singer Shakira, what struck everyone was her amazing hip gyrations. Who knew the human form could move like that? Her agility and breath breaking style got people talking and hoping that they too (or their wives), could shake their booty the way she does. So if you've always wanted to learn how to belly dance, but never got around to enrolling in a class, perhaps its time you got cracking. Or visit FemmeCity in Kuala Lumpur on July 31 and better, get acquainted with the dance.
Veteran belly dancer and tutor Nancy Bakhshy (pic) will be conducting a workshop entitled Belly Dancing for Great Physique at noon, to show what it's all about. "I will teach participants to use all the different muscles in their bodies", says Bakhshy who has been teaching the art form in Malaysia since 2002. Bakhshy has an academy in Kuala Lumpur with students from as young as 7 to as old as 75, so it doesn't matter how old you are. Born in Tehran to Turkish parents, Bakhshy grew up steeped in Turkish and Iranian traditions and cultures. She learnt to dance from her mother (also a dancer) and an Egyptian teacher. Her performance style is infused with folkloric and cultural elements which are woven into her choreography.
Bakhshy is a pioneer of belly dance here and she credits Shakira for getting people curious and interested about the art form. "In the beginning, not many people knew what belly dancing was about. Then Shakira showed them in her music videos. I remember when the ladies came to enrol, they would say I want to dance like Shakira." In fact, Bakhshy uses the sultry Colombian singer's songs for her classes including the catchy hit Hips Don't Lie. She believes that belly dancing can bring diverse benefits and is not really that difficult to learn. "Belly dancing is really an easy workout for ladies. As it uses mainly the abdominal muscles, women can tone their bodies. Some of them have even said it is easier than doing sit-ups."
At the FemmeCity workshop, Bakhshy will go all out to inspire women to feel good about themselves through the dance. She hopes that by the end of her session, they will enrol (for belly dance lessons) and come out dancing. For more on FemmeCity (www.clovetwo/femmecity), make your way to the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre from July 30 to August 1. Admission is free. This article by Olivia Lee appeared in the Starmag section of Sunday Star on July 11 and has been republished with the kind permission of Star Publications (M) Berhad.