Bellydancers limber up

BELLY dancing's appeal, if Michelle McMurtie is honest, is almost as much about the glittery costumes as it is the moves.

The local dance teacher has spent the past five years running women only classes in the Rose City as part of her Belly Dance Hipstars program.

This year her class numbers have surged with more than 80 students aged from eight years old to 70.

“I think the growing popularity of belly dancing is partially in response to our increasing awareness of personal fitness,” Ms McMurtie said.

“Women who come do tend to comment on the way this dance form builds strength and helps them lose weight.

“But then equally importantly it is also about building self esteem and self confidence.

“It is fun; we laugh as we learn and that is pretty important to general health as well.”

Then of course Ms McMurtie admits there was the age-less appeal of extravagantly dressing up.

“I encourage women to make their own costumes, it just adds to the experience,” she said.

“Women keep coming back to our classes because we are not judgemental about body shape.

“Life's too short not to enjoy who you are.”

For Yvonne Wilkinson, who would prefer not to divulge her age, but has practised belly dancing for several years, there have been notable health benefits.

“I had some back problems and they stopped after I started dancing,” Mrs Wilkinson said.

“We had an 84-year-old woman dancing with us last year so anyone can do it.

“It's a little bit of a cheeky way to improve fitness.”



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