Belly dancing promotes friendship, healthy bodies

Belly dancing is a social exercise. (Source: WAFF)
Belly dancing is a social exercise. (Source: WAFF)

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - The beat begins, slow and rhythmic on the drum.

A second drummer adds to the rhythm.

A shimmy responds as the hips of the belly dancers begin to move.

Sallye Elliott practiced this art for a while before becoming a teacher of the form. "Personally involved since 1982... and it's 2014, so that's what now? 32 years?" she said.

Fluid, undulating movements keep the body in a continuous motion.

The dancing and camaraderie are obvious benefits, but all the movements are also very healthy for the body, according to Elliott.

"I'm 52 years old and I'm still dancing every day," she said. "It keeps me moving and it keeps me limber."

If she misses a few days, she says she feels it.

"It's when I get up in the morning and I'm doing the old lady shuffle going down the stairs for the coffee. It's when I get down on the floor to get something or to do something for one of the kids and that's stiff getting up. I feel it in my knees. I feel it in my back. I feel it in my wrists and my hands, if I'm not moving," she said.

A member of this troupe has her own observation.

"Something that belly dance does, it celebrates the wiggle and the jiggle and letting your body move the way it's made to move," said Amber Skantz.

Amber is just one of member of this group who knows a little about dance.

"I grew up in a ballet studio. I started when I was 5 and danced all the way through college. And I was a cheerleader as well. I started cheering at 7. I cheered for my college team. I danced on the dance team," she said.

The undulating movements, playing castanets and constant movement of the core is a weight bearing exercise which, Skantz says, celebrates a woman's natural curves and the aging process.

"It meant that the changes that were happening with me, physically, I could accept them. I didn't have the classical ballet body any more - not to bash that because it's beautiful. It just wasn't where I was."

"Belly dance is so far removed from what I was used to doing with my body in ballet. It meant a whole new learning process", adds Skantz.

It's a process she can continue for years in Bobby's Bama.

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