All the credit apparently goes to the video of Shakira’s hit single Whenever, Wherever, where she is seen belly dancing to jungle beats. According to choreographer and dance instructor Ritambhara Sahni, who runs The Belly Dance Institute in Mumbai, the perception of the dance form got a much-needed boost due to the pop star. “It
suddenly got accepted in India. Earlier, people looked down upon it. That image has changed now,” says Sahni.
On January 28, a show titled Hip-Nosis, The Ultimate Belly Dance Show of The Great Goddesses will bring together 200 young women from the city for a belly dancing performance. As part of it, they will move to Arabic, Egyptian and Bollywood beats.
Sahni, more importantly, is happy that the women who come to her institute, some of whom are investment bankers, journalists and even schoolteachers, don’t hesitate any more. “Belly dance is not akin to mujra
. The beauty lies in the way the dance is performed. It is a very sensuous form, which if presented well, looks sophisticated.”
She also dispels the myth that one needs to have a flat stomach to be able to do justice to the dance. “Any woman can do this irrespective of their shape or size. In their performance this weekend, the girls will also use props like veils, finger cymbals and swords for a balancing act.”
At the same time, Sahni insists that belly dancing also has many health benefits as it helps a woman emotionally, physically and mentally. She says, “For me, belly dancing is spiritual. It targets your core muscles and shapes you up. Not only do your stomach muscles get toned, it also works wonders for your curves.”