Friday, July 3 2020

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Belly dancing takes root

Update: January, 04/2020 - 08:30

 

 

WHIRL OF COLOUR: Vũ Tuyết Nhung performs on stage.
 
Nguyễn Kiều Trinh

What began centuries ago as a form of entertainment in the Middle East has transcended into Vietnamese life in a major way.

Belly dancing may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but visitors to the Cultural Centre, Hai Bà Trưng District, in Hà Nội were treated to an afternoon of quivering hips and undulating movements that would not have looked out of place in the dance halls of Egypt circa 1800s.

Around 100 performers of all ages, shapes and sizes took part in the Belly Dance Sensation Festival 2019 earlier this month.

There were no áo dài here. Instead it was the traditional, and in some cases revealing, costumes of belly dancers that were donned by those taking part.

It is fair to say this is not something you would expect to see on a Saturday afternoon in the capital city.

Yet as a hobby, coupled with a perfect way to keep fit while enjoying yourself at the same time, belly dancing is certainly gaining popularity.

“When I started to learn belly dance, my family did not encourage me because they were afraid of the revealing costume and sexy moves,” said Vũ Tuyết Nhung, who has been practising and teaching the dance for 12 years.

“But after seeing the values that belly dancing brings to women, making them become more beautiful and improving their spirit, my family changed their minds and now encourage me to help other women become beautiful and happy.

Now I am very happy to inspire people with belly dancing.”

The routines may look complicated, and the movements difficult to learn, but according to those in the know, it really is a style anyone can master.

Đỗ Hồng Hạnh believes the benefits of the art are plenty, and as a former champion, encourages people to give it a go.

She said: “There are many aspects in belly dance. The difficulty for artists is how to improve yourself and create different beautiful pieces. Dancers take part in competitions to educate themselves to improve their skills.

“I encourage people to try belly dance. If you are talented, passionate and hard-working enough, you could be a professional dancer. Or at least, you will have good health, a beautiful figure and feel youthful. If you study further, you could achieve the higher level to be a creative choreographer.”

Lê Thị Ngọc Lan defies her 55 years of age. She feels fit and healthy, and even credits this ancient art for helping her overcome serious back pain.

“Eight years ago, I suffered from terrible back pain,” she told Việt Nam News.

“I tried many different things to help ease it, including a course of belly dancing. After just a short time, I began to feel much better.

“My body became more flexible, my back hurt less. Attending the classes, there are still times I have to lay down on the floor, waiting for the pain to ease, but then I continue. My teacher and classmates always encourage me and are very happy every time they see me in class.”

But when Lan broke the news of her new hobby to her family, at first, eyebrows were raised.

“When I started to learn belly dance, my family asked many questions,” she said.

“After visiting my class, my husband and my children understood and encouraged me. They are now very happy because my health has improved so much. I do not need to take painkillers any more. My children are with me when I perform on stage.

“When I perform, I feel very happy and enjoy the music and movement very much.”

Some believe this form of dance dates back to the time of Alexander the Great who ruled Ancient Greece between 336 and 323 BC.

If that is the case, there is no doubt the man who was intent on endeavouring to reach the "ends of the world and the Great Outer Sea" would certainly raise a smile to know the dancing style created in his time seems to have conquered the world.

If you are interested in taking up belly dancing, classes cost around VNĐ2 million for three months. For intensive courses with international instructors the cost is higher. VNS

 

Belly dancing facts

  • In Turkey and Egypt and other places in the Middle East belly dancers have traditionally been hired for wedding parties.
  • In Egypt it is customary for the bride and groom to have their picture taken with their hands on the belly dancer's stomach. 
  • Described by some as the oldest dance in the world, belly dancing is said to date back at least to the time of Alexander the Great (356-323 BC). 
  • Belly dancing was originally done by women for women and the undulating belly is said to resemble a woman giving birth. 
  • The Egyptian Takia Karyoka is regarded by many as the best belly dancer of all time. She enchanted Nazis, Allies and Arabs during and after World War II.
  • Professional belly dancers regard themselves as artists. They bristle at the thought that are little more than stylised strippers.
  • Thomas Edison made several films featuring belly dancers in the 1890's.

 

GLOSSARY

What began centuries ago as a form of entertainment in the Middle East has transcended into Vietnamese life in a major way.

Transcended means “moved across”.

Belly dancing may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but visitors to the Cultural Centre, Hai Bà Trưng District, in Hà Nội were treated to an afternoon of quivering hips and undulating movements that would not have looked out of place in the dance halls of Egypt circa 1800s.

If something is your “cup of tea”, it is what you like and what you would choose.

Quivering means “shaking”.

Undulating means “wavy”, like waves.

Circa 1800s means “in around the 1800s”, but not mentioning any exact year.

There were no áo dài here. Instead it was the traditional, and in some cases revealing, costumes of belly dancers that were donned by those taking part.

If something is revealing, it shows too much.

Donned by dancers means “worn by dancers”.

Yet as a hobby, coupled with a perfect way to keep fit while enjoying yourself at the same time, belly dancing is certainly gaining popularity.

A hobby is a past time people do in their spare time, which interests them.

Coupled means “partnered”

If something gains popularity people like it more and more as time goes on.

Now I am very happy to inspire people with belly dancing.”

To inspire people means to make them feel they want to go out and do something positive.

The routines may look complicated, and the movements difficult to learn, but according to those in the know, it really is a style anyone can master.

Routines are schedules.

To master something means to get to be able to do it very well.

Đỗ Hồng Hạnh believes the benefits of the art are plenty, and as a former champion, encourages people to give it a go.

Benefits are things that you are given that can make you stronger, more comfortable or more wealthy in one way or another.

If someone encourages you to do something, they support you in being influenced into doing something.

She said: “There are many aspects in belly dance.

The many aspects in belly dancing are the many different ways in which to perform the activity and to offer meaning in it.

“I encourage people to try belly dance. If you are talented, passionate and hard-working enough, you could be a professional dancer.”

If you are talented as a belly dancer, you have a natural skill that helps you do it.

If you are passionate about something, you love it so much that you do not mind how much time or money you spend on it.

If you study further, you could achieve the higher level to be a creative choreographer.”

Someone who is creative uses lots of imagination to make things.

A choreographer is someone who designs and plans dances.

Lê Thị Ngọc Lan defies her 55 years of age.

To defy your age means to not surrender to any limits your body, and your community, may give you because you may be too old to do certain things.

She feels fit and healthy, and even credits this ancient art for helping her overcome serious back pain.

To credit belly dancing to make you back hurt less means to say something good about belly dancing for this reason.

Ancient means very old.

To overcome an obstacle, such as back pain, means to win over it.

“My body became more flexible, my back hurt less.”

For the body to become flexible means to be happy able to change position.

But when Lan broke the news of her new hobby to her family, at first, eyebrows were raised.

If you eyebrows are raised, you look at something with surprise and disapproval.

Some believe this form of dance dates back to the time of Alexander the Great who ruled Ancient Greece between 336 and 323 BC.

BC stands for “Before Christ”.

If that is the case, there is no doubt the man who was intent on endeavouring to reach the "ends of the world and the Great Outer Sea" would certainly raise a smile to know the dancing style created in his time seems to have conquered the world.

If you are intent on doing something, you seriously want to do it.

Endeavouring means “trying”.

In Egypt it is customary for the bride and groom to have their picture taken with their hands on the belly dancer's stomach. 

Customary means behaviour that fits the tradition of a community.

Belly dancing was originally done by women for women and the undulating belly is said to resemble a woman giving birth. 

To resemble a woman giving birth means to represent that.

She enchanted Nazis, Allies and Arabs during and after World War II.

To enchant people means to fill them with delight.

Nazis and Allies were the different sides fighting one another during World War 2.

They bristle at the thought that are little more than stylised strippers.

To bristle means to express a feeling of disapproval.

 

WORKSHEET

State whether the following sentences are true, or false:

  1. Belly dancing began in the Middle East.
  2. Hà Nội is the capital city of Việt Nam.
  3. Vũ Tuyết Nhung has been practising and teaching belly dancing for 12 years.
  4. Lê Thị Ngọc Lan would have been born circa 1964.
  5. Turkey is in the Middle East.

ANSWERS: 1. True; 2. True; 3. False; 4. True; 5. True.

 

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