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The ancient art of bellydancing – it’s here

Cody Finney / The Arbiter

Bellydancers are known for their smooth-moving hips and bare abdomens. Even here in Boise, bellydancers perform in the traditional garb and mesmerize their viewers. Jasmine Martin, a second year undecided major is one of them. Arbiter staffer Danielle Davidson caught up with Martin to talk about her passion for bellydancing.

Q: When did you start bellydancing?

A: I started almost two years ago. I got back from a trip and just was like, I’m going to do it, and so I found a woman online, her name is Cecilia Rinn. She’s my mentor and my teacher, and she has a school, it’s called Star Belly School of Dance, so I’m a part of her Pre-Performing Group.  It’s a lot of fun. I really enjoy it.

Q: What made you interested in bellydancing?

A:  From being a little girl. Actually my mom used to take me down and we’d watch the bellydancers and I just was always in awe, and it was a lot fun.

Q: What’s bellydancing like?

A: It is completely different than I had originally thought it would be. I think that it has this face of connotation of it being very sexual and kind of just shaking your booty and stuff like that. It’s actually not, I mean you are, but it’s really empowering and I’ve gotten over wanting to have the perfect body and being thin and it’s a really nice mindset for me and I meet a lot of really awesome women.

Q: How is it different from what people usually think?

A: For me there was just the pretty top and pretty skirt, and there’s so much more to the style of it.  There’s like Turkish, there’s Egyptian, there’s Oriental, there’s all sorts of different bellydancing categories.  It’s a lot more deeper than you would think it to be, and learning about it is really cool and the music really is like a huge queue of it, you know there’s certain music you dance to, to certain costumes that you wear and certain music that you listen to, performing to a certain crowd and it’s just a lot deeper than I think anyone would think it to be.

Q: What’s your favorite style?

A: I like Turkish. Turkish is really big and it’s loose and it’s really fun and you get to be smiling and stuff. Egyptian is more inward, so a lot of your movements are internal, and it’s very emotional and not as fun and big.

Q: Do the different styles have different costumes?

A: Yeah, the way that the belt is angled on your hips. So, an Egyptian one you can see like around the waist it would just be a swoop and more Turkish ones are more angular or like a triangle.

Q: Do all of the costumes you wear show your belly?

A: No, she does make dresses that you can wear underneath.  (It’s) just like a lace or a sheer fabric that you could wear, but none of our students who perform wear that.  I think it’s either because they feel free and they’re comfortable with their bodies and who are around, and we encourage that.  I mean, we don’t discourage them from being in their comfort zone, but it’s a beautiful thing and I think that’s a part of bellydancing to be free and strong.

Q: What about the workout aspect?

A: It’s interesting because it’s really cool when I notice other women in the class that started a little while ago and now they’re losing weight and they’re looking great and they’re happy.  It’s different because you don’t notice those things in yourself.  I do feel fit, not like buff or anything, but a little toned.  It works more on your waistline and so you still have the belly which I’m totally fine with.