So often your block to starting something new is not knowing what to expect. I sent out a quick survey and asked the ladies what “Questions” would be best answered for those ladies who are uncertain about “Oriental Belly Dance”.

The top question’s that came from our ladies are represented below in an infographic I created.

I thought it would be a good blog to cover these questions in more depth.

Do I have to be fit?

Nope. Jessica and I have designed the classes in such a way that you learn moves and we increase the cardio incrementally. We find that doing it this way means we avoid common injuries that are often associated with any form of dance. Getting the right muscle to contract takes time, practice and can only be achieved safely by going slowly through the various techniques available.

Does it require a certain degree of flexibility?

No, belly dance is one of the few dance forms that works with your body’s flexibility. Over time it will lengthen and strengthen your muscles and help’s with balance. This, in turn, helps with overall flexibility. The ability to bend down at 70 or 80 and pick something up off the floor kind of long-term goals, we don’t consider when we are 20.

Do I have to be “skinny” to perform?

Now that’s a controversial question! In our studio, the answer is no. Most of the studio’s found in South Africa the answer is no. But if your goal is to travel and perform globally, in some countries they have a very specific idea of what the “belly dancer” should look like. Thankfully here in South Africa, a dancer is judged on merit and skill alone.

Will it change my body shape?

As with any form of exercise, you need to eat healthily and put in the time. One class a week won’t see any results if your goal is weight loss. A single class a week, will, however, improve your self-confidence and you will be feeling more satisfied with the body you have!

When it comes to body image, even if you are super skinny, if your body image is poor you will never be satisfied with your “look”.

Belly dance helps improve your self-confidence and how you perceive your body. Which to my mind is so much more valuable than being skinny!

How difficult is it to learn?

I love this question, it comes in many forms (how long will it take to learn – is another variation).

We all learn in a different way, Jessica and I teach using different learning techniques. To be able to learn something new, you also need to be open to correction. Our bodies are unique and different movements are easy or difficult for different people. We keep our classes small so that each person can be helped to achieve the movement in a way they understand and that makes sense for their bodies.

A close friend once came to my show, she is an occupational therapist by trade. She wanted to know what benefit I got from doing a hip lift, as she could do it and it put a lot of stress on her knee. I explained that using the knee to initiate the move was not the way to get a hip lift. One should concentrate on contracting the oblique and solar muscle’s to pull the hip up, rather than push it up with the knee. After a rep of 8 using the correct muscles, she laughing agreed that it was more difficult than she had imagined and a great work out to boot.

Melanie Wallis

Melanie started dancing and performing for Janka’s Oriental Dance Studio in 2006.  Under the mentorship of Janka Kliment, Melanie began her training to become an Oriental Dance teacher in 2008 and completed it under Asja Samia in 2011.  Melanie is also a certified health and fitness instructor.   Following Janka’s return to Slovakia in 2013, Melanie and Jessica chose to carry forward the vision of their friend and mentor.  They purchased the studio and continue to teach the art and beauty of the dance to all aspiring belly dancers.