VIDEO: A belly full of fun

BELLY dancing – an elegant and classy artform or a sure fire way of looking like a bit of an idiot?

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 6th January 2011, 4:34 pm

Well, all in the name of research, I decided to find out.

When my friend spotted an advert for the class at our local gym, and suggested we give it a go, I was somewhat dubious.

If you are a trained belly dancer I am sure you look beautiful and elegant, but I had a feeling I would not be able to pull it off.

But you never know if you don’t give something a try, so I decided to give it a go.

The class is run by 24-year-old Claire Walsh who was trained as a professional belly dancer in Egypt when she was invited over there on a dance contract.

She has now been back in the UK for a year and has set up her own business teaching the dance to others.

And she hopes that she will be able to teach her students to a high standard so they can start performing at shows.

Claire, who studied contemporary dance at the University of Bedfordshire before she was invited to Egypt, said: “During my time in Egypt I trained with the best people and we were performing at top venues every night.

“I had done my degree, but hadn’t planned to get into belly dancing. It just worked out like that. I absolutely loved it over there. It was amazing – the culture and the dancing were just out of this world.

“So now that I’m back I decided to set up my own class, with a view to finally being booked to perform. We’ve done a few low-key performances, so it’s building up slowly.”

Claire, of Clapham, added: “Nothing like this is done in Bedfordshire. It’s a really great way of toning your whole body and keeping fit. I’ve never been a massive fan of the gym. This class is something unique and all the girls just have a laugh with it.

“I start with very basic steps and each week add to them, building up a routine.”

So belly dancing – how hard can it be? All it is shaking your hips, surely? Well, its not quite that easy, but Claire is right – as long as you can laugh at yourself it is a fun way of keeping trim.

I went along to one of Claire’s Monday evening classes, held at Clapham Methodist Church. Her class had already established the beginning of a routine, so I was a bit behind, but she was great at showing the moves as I tried to keep up with the rest of the class.

She started off with a few warm-up exercises, and then set about showing me various moves that would form the routine.

When she shows you how it’s done Claire really does make it look easy, but co-ordinating your bum shakes, hip moves and making sure your arms are in the correct position is no easy feat. Yet I managed to take part in the routine.

Claire holds a class at Fitness First at Aspects Leisure Park on Wednesdays at 8.15pm and at Clapham Methodist Church on Mondays at 7pm. She is planning to open another class in February,

The dancer is also looking for venues and events where she and her dancers will be able to perform. If anyone is interested in booking her or would like to find out more about the classes call her on 07896332281.