Friday, January 22, 2010

Belly Dance: Not Just For Greek Restaurants

By now if you've been reading my blog you know what a research nut I am. My second release is due out next month, and I thought I'd share some research I did for Cover of Darkness. It features a Navy SEAL, so of course I devoured about a half dozen books on SEAL training and past missions, including Lone Survivor, which is still one of my favorite books. The heroine is Bryn, from Out of Her League. She's half-Lebanese, and moonlights as a belly dance instructor when she's done her day as a social worker. I was already pretty familiar with her from writing the first book, but I knew squat about belly dancing other than what I'd seen at Greek restaurants. So, naturally I signed up for classes. Turns out there are different kinds of belly dance, but I started with cabaret style, the kind most people are familiar with.

I started my classes about a month or so into the drafting phase, and I loved it. Loved. It. My second son was only eight months old, so on top of getting me out of the house for some exercise away from the gym and giving me some adult interaction, it gave me the best ab workout I've ever had. Even better than the core classes at the gym. And there's something intensely powerful about belly dance. Want to feel ultra feminine and erotic? Try belly dance. I'm telling you, there's nothing better to get in touch with your inner diva than shaking it to Shakira (also half-Lebanese, by the way). It's empowering.

I loved dancing so much that I wound up caving in and performing for a while, which my husband loved :). And before you all point out the obvious, yes, I realize I'm in desperate need of a tan in these photos.

After performing for a while, however, I wasn't enjoying it as much anymore. Too much pressure for something I'd taken up as a hobby. Let's face it, I had more than my share of pressure during my years as a competitive softball pitcher facing national and international-level batters. Dancing was meant to be fun, for crying out loud. I didn't want to be stressing over memorizing complicated choreography and worrying about wardrobe malfunctions. So I stopped.

But I missed it. Not the performing, but the dancing. I missed feeling sultry and alluring and strong all at the same time. Missed moving to those heavy, exotic beats and getting a fabulous workout that didn't really feel like a workout. So I started up again last week, and I'm loving it. I adore feeling that burn in my abs and butt again! My hubby's pretty excited, too. I'll be posting more about belly dance as the February 26th release date for COD approaches, but I'm hoping I inspired at least a few of you to give it a try. There are some good DVDs about belly dance instruction if you're too chicken to join a class. Rachel Brice and Jillina are two of my favorites,so you can check them out online. I once took a very intense one day seminar from Jillina, and was sore for a week afterward. It was awesome :). We learned new combos and layered different movements while using veils. Very sultry and mysterious. In a later post I'll talk about a Tribal belly dance seminar I took, and maybe even get the fabulous teacher to do a post. She's amazing!

Today is a gorgeous day in Vancouver, and the sun is sparkling off the water in my little town. After I pick the big guy up from school later, I'm going to take the boys for an ice cream and walk on the pier to see the purple starfish that like to cling to the rocks at the end of it. It's little warmer than usual for mid-January, so warm the cherry blossoms are coming out two months early. That's going to look a little odd to the world when they see coverage of the Winter Olympics in a few weeks' time. But hey, I'm loving it, since January is usually so gray and rainy. And to burn off the ice cream, I'll do some shimmying and locks later on. Now get out there and dance! If you've never tried belly dance, do. You won't be sorry :)


Mona Risk said...

Kaylea, I love belly-dancing. I have been dancing it for years although I am not an expert and never wore a costume. Just tied a scarf around my hips. We had a belly-dancer at both my daughter and my son's wedding. I can't hear the music without starting to shake and undulate. Now I am teaching my little granddaughters. My daughter bought them tiny costumes (they are 5, 4 and 3 years old) and they danced around the belly-dancer at a Greek restaurant. It was an adorable sight.

Kaylea Cross said...

So great, Mona! I don't think most people realize what great exercise belly dance is. For my hubby's 40
th birthday my instructor came and did a surprise performance, and my eldest (who was only 3 at the time) came running downstairs with one of my coin scarves wrapped around his hips. We've got pictures of him dancing with her, but he kind of stole the show :)

Katie Reus said...

That's so cool! I'm glad you started up again. I didn't realize what great excercise you got from that. Maybe I'll have to check out some classes too :)

Christine said...

I for sure will start up belly dancing again in the spring. Too much road construction to go to classes especially in winter. This coincides with one of my fitness tips - DANCE. I love belly dance too and I am glad that is it 'ageless'. Even we old people can enjoy it!

Kaylea Cross said...

Chris, you're not old. You're in the best shape EVER, and it's no wonder your story has been picked up for a book.
Katie, give it a whirl! Bet you'll love it, and your hubby too of course ;)