Name: Carmen Bellotti
Profession: Playing with puppies at Mud Bay
Hobbies: Dance really is my main hobby, but I also enjoy reading, sewing, and yoga in my spare time.
How long have you been studying bellydance: It will be six and a half years in July.
When did you first see bellydance? What were your first impressions?
I always admired belly dancing and felt it was a beautiful and ancient dance. I loved how the women seemed to have such control over their body and carried themselves so gracefully. Confidence is something I lacked, so I think their poise and grace was very alluring to me. I don’t really think I was ever “exposed” to belly dance. The only time I recall seeing a belly dancer was at my grade school’s auction where the theme was Arabian Nights and a belly dancer was performing around the event. At the time I was too young to really understand what I saw, and it didn’t leave a huge impression on me.
What motivated you to finally take your first bellydance class?
I was having a hard time in high school dealing with weight issues and other typical high school drama and felt I needed a change. Several months prior to me actually finding dance I had tried to start classes but for whatever reason I never followed through. Something inspired me to finally follow through and I went to trusty ol’ Google to see what type of teachers were around Seattle. After sifting through the results, I found Shay’s website and saw her studio at the time was right over in Greenwood and her next session started on my birthday. I felt that it was perfect timing to begin belly dancing.
What was your first class like?
I look back at my first class often thinking of all the different types of women that were present. I remember being a little intimidated, only because the class was nothing I was expecting. I was one of the youngest in the class, and I remember there being a lot of black worn. What I found so beautiful and amazing was the diversity of the age, size, shape, etc of the women there. I have always struggled with my weight and felt at ease to see that these women didn’t care and looked beautiful when doing the movements. I, like so many others, was unaware that there were different styles of belly dance and that I had signed up for Tribal. I also learned very quickly in that first class why you repeat Level 1 at least three times. The concepts are not what was difficult but to train your body to move in a different way is something that takes time. I am grateful that there was no pressure to move on to the next level, or even adding a layer to a new movement until YOU were ready.
In what ways do you think you have changed or benefited as a result of taking bellydance classes?
This dance has given me so much. From my head down to my toes I carry myself much more confidently. This dance has given me a new found love for my body and accepting it just the way it is. I was teased early on for my weight by everyone in my school, and hated who I was and what I looked like. I have learned to find beauty in my body, and love myself. My confidence has also spread into my interactions with people. I am much more comfortable taking the reins, and am speak up more in groups to voice my opinion. Not to mention you make some pretty awesome friends in classes.
What is your favorite move or concept you have learned so far and why?
I love slow moves/concepts. I like the ease of transitioning between movements and being able to dance on top of the music. With slow music I feel like there are so many layers and so many options for a leader to find a melody or rhythm that speaks to them. Also I tend to find it much more powerful to see a well done slow piece than a fast piece. Fast is fun because of the quickness of the movement and the energy that is there naturally. With slow, you have to really focus on being strong and centered in your posture to be able to glide between the movements.
Any advice for other students who are just starting out?
Don’t be afraid! It’s hard to be in a room full of strangers and feel awkward with new movements but everyone in that classroom has been there. We are all there to support one another on our journey, so don’t be afraid to feel awkward or worry about how well you are doing a move. Speaking of, I also think it’s important to remember to focus on yourself when in class. Everyone is at a different place in their learning, and even those who seem to have a move down “perfectly” are still working on finessing the movements. There is always room for growth, no matter how long you have been taking classes.