It is a dance that brings to mind Scheherazade, Salome and even Mata Hari. It is a dance that brings to mind the middle east, of hookas and sitting on pillows on the floor. It is a dance of women in gauzy clothes and veils. And in the not too distant future it is a dance that will be taught in Tucumcari.
Belly dancing lessons will begin at the Tucumcari Recreation Center on Thursday, Feb. 5. According to Jeanne Smith, the Tucumcari resident who will teach the class, the art form could well be a good match for Tucumcari.
“It’s a wonderful thing to learn,” said Smith who has been belly dancing since she was in middle school. “I actually started when I was eight but I didn’t really take it up until I was about 11.”
Smith said she decided to teach the class at the recreation center because of an inservice she had at the hospital where she works as an X-ray technologist.
“They asked our group what craft or hobby can you teach others,” said Smith, “and my group came up with me teaching belly dancing.”
They urged her to actually do it, but she was hesitant but with the urging of both her mother and her dance teacher who both live in Amarillo, she decided to take the plunge and contacted Scott Simpson about the possibility of her teaching a class.
“I thought it was a great idea,” said Simpson about the offer of the class. “We used to have a lady who taught aerobics and I was excited about anything like that.”
Simpson said he realizes that belly dancing is not exactly aerobics but contends there are certain similarities.
“Well, my reaction was, anything that will get people out of the house and get them moving and active, I’m all for. it,” said Simpson. “I hope it really catches on.”
Smith said there are a number of different positive influences that belly dancing can provide a person.
“Well, it helps keep you physically fit,” said Smith who has dance professionally as a belly dancer, “and it helps you deal with stress. It helps you feel sensual and it helps you fulfill your femininity.”
Smith is quick to point out belly dancing is far from a new fad. In fact it is so old, it makes dances that George and Martha Washington did seem as modern as hip hop.
“It is the oldest dance in the world. For a time it was done as a fertility dance,” said Smith. “It’s been dated back to 5,500 B.C.”
Smith said she hopes a large number of people come out to learn to belly dance since it is a dance that can be done by all ages.
“Any age can do it,” said Smith. “My daughter who is six does it and my mother who is in her 50s does it and my (belly dancing) teacher does it and she’s in her 60s. If you can stand on your feet and wiggle some you can do it.”
Cost will be $2 per person per lesson.