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Belly dancing making a comeback

Belly dancing making a comeback
By: Kate Scott

PADUCAH, KY -- When you hear the words belly dancing, what places usually come to mind? Hawaii? Eastern Asia? How about Paducah? You may not know it, but Paducah is right in the middle of a belly dancing revival.

When you hear the exotic music and the jingling sequins, you could close your eyes and easily imagine you're in some far-away land. But you're actually in belly dancing class, inside the Paducah Parks and Rec Building. Every Tuesday night, that's where you'll find women of all skill-levels, shapes, and sizes strutting their stuff, and shaking their backsides, with the help of Instructor Margie Hyde. "Belly dancing is a good exercise," she tells Heartland News with a smile. "You have to isolate so many muscles. Plus, it's fun, and it gives you confidence."

Hyde has been teaching Egyptian-style dance in Paducah since 1977. Back then, she says, it was big, before being edged out by aerobics in the 1980's. Now, you only have to take a look around her crowded classroom to know that the belly is back! "For me, it has a certain spirituality about it," says Beverly Dubuque of Paducah. "It helps you be creative. It's relaxing." Sixty-one year old Sandra Hutchison tells Heartland News, "I just like the exercise, and it's something I always wanted to do. So I just signed up for the classes and I liked it so well, I signed up again, and I signed up again..." Hutchison got hooked on belly dancing back in September. Dubuque has been doing it for thirty years. And 15-year old Lacey Keel just started taking the class with her mom. "At first it's a bit hard," she admits. "But once you get used to it, it's great to just move to it."

I thought it looked easy enough, so I decided to give it a fair shake...even though i have no coordination! I can vouch from experience, it's not as easy as it looks! "There's really an art to it," Hutchison concurs. "Not that I'm good at it yet. To get it all together with the music, you've got to learn the steps, which was hard for me at first." For me, the hardest part was figuring out which parts to move. "All parts!" explains Hyde, giving a little demonstration. "But you have to move one at a time. A chest movement goes up and down, like this. And this is a hip movement..." The five-year old next to me had it figured out. And yes, she's in the class too. So if you have belly dancing confused with exotic dancing, think again. "Exotic dancing is done in nightclubs with stripping. We don't do that," clarifies Hyde. The ladies in her class, both young and old, are just after fun, exercise, and a little artistic expression. And what better way to get it? "It's a beautiful dance," says Dubuque. "It's a creative and artistic dance, and what we try to promote is the artistry of the dance." Keel's recommendation? "You should try it. It's really good."

Some of the members of the class also make-up a belly dancing troupe, called the Zerdali Dancers. They perform at area events like Downtown After Dinner.

If you're interested in signing up for belly dancing classes, you can contact the Paducah Parks and Recreation Department for more information.

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