I attended a belly dancing workshop on February 28th in 2015 led by Kalia Kellogg of Kalia Belly Dance CT. Kalia shared her personal background and told the class about how she got into the art of belly dancing. First, she was a ballet dancer. However, she felt that the pressure to maintain a certain image and to behave a certain way was too overbearing. Kalia is very in-touch with her self-esteem, body, and spirituality. Belly dancing is a part of Kalia’s identity and personality and her passion for it is apparent. Anyone can tell she enjoys doing and teaching what she does.
Overall, I learned a lot from the lesson, like:
- bend your knees slightly and align your feet with your nipples in the home-base position.
- having open elbows are one of the sexiest parts of a dancer’s body language.
- when you want to move faster you have to make your movements smaller.
- meditation is a soothing and relaxing way to recover after dancing.
I wanted to express myself through movement and joined kickboxing to increase my core and arm strength. Overall, I’m glad I went to the class because it was a valuable learning experience. Kalia was very insightful and the class increased my confidence in my abilities.
Belly Dancing and the Beauty Myth
The way that the belly dancing event relates to the beauty myth is by demonstrating body liberation. According to Wolf, the beauty myth is “… actually composed of emotional distance, politics, finance, and sexual repression” (Wolf, p. 13). Belly dancers are encouraged to explore their sexuality and sensuality through movement. However, belly dancing is not just about the sexualization; the dance can be an empowering form of sexual liberation.
Belly dancers tend to be strong, independent, and have a healthy mindset about their bodies. This is detrimental to the beauty myth because the system is dependent on women feeling like they are worth less than they actually are (Wolf, 1991, p. 18). Belly dancers are typically at peace with their bodies and see the dance as an extension of who they are.
Belly dancers aren’t confined to any one size or shape, as Kalia had mentioned, and in this way it challenges conventional beauty standards by showing that anyone can be a belly dancer and feel like they are beautiful/good enough. Kalia is not extremely thin, she is curvaceous and it is obvious that she is confident and appreciates her body and what it can do.
In conclusion, regarding the cult of beauty where a woman is typically considered beautiful if she is thin, undergoes pain, and potentially has surgeries to “fix” herself, Valenti suggests that women stop hating themselves despite impossible beauty standards (Valenti, 2007, p. 212). Kalia has probably taken this type of advice to heart, she doesn’t do yoga and belly dancing solely for the purpose of looking good; she feels good about herself because she is doing what she loves.
- Valenti, J., (2007). Full Frontal Feminism A Young Woman’s Guide to Why Feminism Matters. Berkeley, CA: Seal Press.
- Wolf, N., (1991). The Beauty Myth How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women. New York, NY: William Morrow and Company, Inc.
Have you ever tried Belly Dancing?
Additionally, email me your thoughts and suggestions for other events I should attend at firstname.lastname@example.org.