Susan's Blog

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Belly Laughs-Avec Images

Yesterday was lovely. Like this morning, I woke up around 7, and Nat was already downstairs curled up on the white couch. I zipped up my little navy hoodie over my pink pajamas because I knew how cold the downstairs is these winter mornings. I looked out the pantry window and sure enough, the big rhododendron’s leaves were curled up like little black fingers. I started the coffee (Ned loves it when I get up first and “Chantal” makes the coffee; we joke about our French maid that we don’t really have. Yesterday I was cleaning and cleaning so much that he said, “Should I get you one of those frilly little dresses with the aprons?” and I said, “Sure!” But I wouldn’t wear it to cleaning…)

Outside the yard looks like a pfefferneuse cookie with just a dusting of crispy snow. Inside, all is clean and bright (due to my diligence). I even polished silver. It sounds like a big yawn probably but there is something so wonderfully satisfying about getting your house clean. You return it to its earlier state, to how it looked at its best when you first moved in with all of your big plans.

I bellydanced twice yesterday. Once as my workout, in the morning, while Ned took Nat to basketball, and then again in the evening because I simply had to. For both workouts I used my Bellydance Superstars DVD, Sonia and Issam Bellydance: The Art of the Drum Solo . Sonia is so beautiful to watch, with her long dark hair and tiny, controlled movements. This DVD is at just the right level for me, where Issam describes each traditional drum rhythm (the Faladi, the Maksoum, the Sayidi) and then Sonia gives you choreography and technique to go with each rhythm. The key to the drum solo in bellydance is to pay attention to the drum beats and anticipate where the drummer is going next, and match your very tight, controlled movements to that beat.

So for the Sayidi rhythm, for example, you learn all sorts of variations with a hip drop (drop for eight counts, then hip drop kick for eight, drop kick in a circle around yourself, one arm raised; then do a hip drop, up, drop-drop, up). Then, another choreography to do with the Sayidi rhythm is the piston hips, which is one of my favorites. Piston hips is where you sharply drop one hip, then the other, then the other, as you travel downwards with your knees all the way bent eventually. You bounce up and end with a shoulder shimmy, all with eight counts. Then you do a quarter turn and do a four-point lock to the same drum beat. A four-point lock is taken from the hula move called the Ami: it is a right hip pop, pelvic pop to the back, left hip pop, pelvic lock to the front. Tiny but pronounced movements, all in time to the drum, so it ends up looking like your body is making those sounds, or like the drum is controlling your body!

I get a little frustrated that my body cannot entirely do all of these very sharp movements the way Sonia’s can. (Ned would say, “Your body cannot yet do all of these very sharp movements…”) Sonia is utterly smooth and seems to have little body fat. I doubt she is in her forties or has had three children. Anyway, I am beginning to get an idea of which movements I do best and which are not as attractive. I am great at any hip movements, anything with shoulders or hips. I am not as great with shimmies, where a lot of me shakes and only one area is really supposed to. And shimmies where you stand on tiptoe shaking just your hips up and down, and then pop your chest up every four counts while smiling, holding your arms out, stomach in and torso high…! Very hard to look good. That is the “choo-choo shimmy” and is right now my nightmare movement. I imagine myself dancing for people and suddenly trying the choo-choo shimmy and well. Not a good image. So when I do my first performance, I will do hip drops, hip eights, hip circles, and full body undulations. Also a short drum solo with piston hips and four-point locks.

I practice all the time. I perform every time I drive. I put on my CD from last season’s teacher and I can’t help but sway in my seat or do belly rolls in time to the Misirlou. I zill with my fingers (right left right, right left right) a little while driving — of course I still hold the wheel (okay, I’ll stop). I also put on the music and dance when I cook and sometimes dance while showering. While getting ready for bed, I practice some moves in front of our mirror and Ned comes in and says, “A bellydancer! Cool.”

It is cool. I feel like a princess when I can do it well. I marvel at how much I’ve learned since May, and how much better everything looks. Also at how much less shy I am at performing for someone (Nat, Ned, my mother) and at showing my tummy off at the gym or in class. I used to always, always keep it covered. Now I feel like, why should I? If someone doesn’t like it, it’s their problem, not mine. I am a bellydancer, therefore, here’s the belly. Cool.


i have been reading your blog fo awhile and your “here’s the belly-ccol” has inspired me to write and tell you-thanks, for all you do to raise awareness for autism and bellys-you rock susan

— added by Anonymous on Sunday, February 4, 2007 at 11:49 am

Thank you, Lovely Anonymous. From the bottom of my belly, er, heart.

— added by Susan Senator on Sunday, February 4, 2007 at 2:03 pm

Yesterday I was cleaning and cleaning so much that he said, “Should I get you one of those frilly little dresses with the aprons?”

At this point I had to get up for a minute, because I was remembering the last person I’d seen in such an outfit. He looked rather cute in it.

— added by Julia on Sunday, February 4, 2007 at 5:08 pm

Whatever floats your boat! šŸ™‚

— added by Susan Senator on Sunday, February 4, 2007 at 6:05 pm

I once read a great comment about bellies when it comes to belly dancing.
“I have a uterus. It’s borne children. This is where my body keeps that. And look what I can do with it!”
I couldn’t agree more. šŸ˜€
Besides, you have an awesome body. Shame is the thing you feel when other people’s opinion matters more than your own. <-- Courtesy of my grandma.

— added by Jen on Sunday, February 4, 2007 at 10:06 pm


I wanted to pass on to you that your belly dancing has inspired me. Not to dance, I am not a dancer, but to begin painting. I have started oil painting and am now working on my tenth painting. I love it. Having something of my own to do really helps me. I am one of those winter moody people too and I think this year my painting has kept me sane.

Thanks for the inspiration and the idea. I love having an expressive hobby.

— added by Mom on Monday, February 5, 2007 at 4:47 pm

%d bloggers like this: