Belly beautiful


Dance teacher and performer Hilary Cinis, tells us why Bellydance is so hot right now, and no – it’s not because of the harem pants!

Unique and accessible

There is nothing like the feeling of stepping onto a stage knowing  that all eyes are on you and, if only for a moment, you are  beautiful and radiant. Bellydance is unique in that it is a style  that is accessible to anyone regardless of body type, age or even sex. No other dance style can make a someone feel so good about  themselves just the way they are.

Journey of self discovery

I remember my husband coming to pick me up from a class one  saturday  arvo and he said, he was moved at watching a room full of  women of  varying ages and sizes so at ease with themselves, clearly feeling  beautiful from within. Being the overly ambitious perfectionist that  I am, I of course wasn’t happy with just  feeling good in a class and since those early lessons nine years  ago, I’ve been on an amazing  journey of self discovery, community  and friendship.

Tribal fusion

Even though I started with orientale/cabaret bellydance (the kind you’ll see in most restaurants) my real bellydance story starts about seven years ago, after seeing a troupe that literally, blew my  mind.  Having spent 12 years studying classical ballet I was always slightly troubled by the “looseness” of most of the bellydance I  saw.  Now I had found a style with a noble character, with set arm  positions and a central discipline of strong posture and precise movements: known as American Tribal Style (ATS). Created in the US  in the 80’s it’s a modern fusion of bellydance moves that can be danced by  modern  western women. Being this contemporary western style, it has  naturally  branched into many variations, some of which, barely  resemble  bellydance anymore. Tribal fusion bellydance is the term   used to  describe what I teach and perform now.

Sense of self

The impact the dance has had on my life has been so rich -I found  a new level of personal confidence. I can’t impress enough, how  just  the simple act of standing with the tribal bellydance posture  can  change the sense of self. Back straight, shoulders down, chest  lifted, chin level.  You walk taller, stronger, more confidently.   Standing with your arms wide, open to your dance partner or an  unknown bunch of strangers is confronting! But you do it and you  win  them and confidence grows. ATS is a group dance form, so  learning  trust and communication with other dancers is central to  its  success. As a tribal fusion soloist now, my level of  experimentation  with moves and music has led me on wonderfully  creative journey where I have found a medium of expression for  very personal  experiences.

Exotic & glamorous

Dressing up, wearing glamourous make up and exotic jewellery all  makes us feel special and most tribal dancers take these elements  into their daily life. Its funny but when we all get together you  can tell we share something special. There is a sparkle that is more  than just the shiny bits. We are a strong and supportive  community  which accepts everyone without demanding anything. Prior to dance, I  can’t really say I had many strong friendships but now  my best friends are all women I dance with. Interestingly enough  too, most  of us are professional urban women with careers  and creative pursuits.

Beauty into form

There are very few areas in our lives where we can be totally  self -indulgent, where we must follow our hearts and needs to grow; dance is where I do that. For me dance is about transcribing beauty into form. What I am always attempting to aim for is elegance. Whatever I do with a set   of moves needs to be fluid and graceful (and it’s not always a  success!).  I am drawn to moves that have extended lines and  interesting shapes, that interpret the music and texture. Dance should use every part of the body from toes to  fingertips. I love the feeling I get when I watch amazing dancers  and hope I can share that with other people when they watch me.

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