Thia Kapos has danced all her life, but saw belly dancing as a soft and feminine approach to the art of dance that she loved so much.
“Little did I know a couple of lessons and the belly bug would but me,” she laughs.
She now teaches 17 classes a week at her Salt Lake Studio.
Both the hips and the history pulled her in.
“Belly dancing is actually for the lady,” Kapos explains. “It’s actually for her own self-satisfaction and it’s a form of expression.”
In addition to the exercise, Kapos believes there is another draw.
“You will look like an Arabian princess!” she promises.
Thia believes there is a princess in every woman; from the tiny tot to the dancing grandma.
At her studio all ages, and all sizes, are welcome.
“There isn’t one type of profile for belly dancing. If you are a woman, this is a woman’s dance. I think the number one misconceptions it that belly dancing is done just for men, in a smoky café by women who are hardly dressed at all and that is farthest from the truth,” Kapos defends. “The truth is it’s someone else’s culture.”
She says there are a few belly basics to keep in mind. between we learned a few belly basics.
For example, it’s offensive to actually touch your body, with a few exceptions. You are allowed to touch your rib cage, the apple of your check and gently stroke an arm. From the rib cage to mid-thigh is considered “The Forbidden Zone,” an area to avoid altogether. And when it comes to wardrobe, you don’t have to bare your belly.
“You can go barefoot or wear little sandals, stretch pants, t-shirt, top – maybe a little scarf on your hip,” Kapos said. “Anything you will feel comfortable in.”
At the beginning of class an extra accessory is distributed. Participants are each given a brightly colored and beaded bangle; Kapos calls this wardrobe addition the best part.
“The bangles actually accent all the movements and so it makes it more fun!” she said. “It also helps with your belly dance movements so you can see if you are doing the moves correctly.”
Class participants say, correct or not, they love this unique workout.
“I never would have done this twenty years ago but, for some reason, I just let go,” 40-year old Sandra Stanger laughs. “Anybody can do it – any age. I want to continue belly dancing until I’m in my seventies! It’s just something any age, any body shape, can enjoy.”
Carlyn Chester agrees. She takes a weekly class with her 7-year old daughter Hanna, who is half Egyptian.
“I thought it would be a great way for us to keep the culture in our household and also to get great exercise, Chester explains. “Belly dancing is something that is a beautiful art form. We study hard to perfect it – it’s not something that comes easy!”
It might not come easy, but Kapos says the belly benefits are beautiful.
“I think the one thing belly dance helps overcome is our body image,” she said. “How we look are how we are suppose to look. This gets you in touch with your body and you actually feel good about your body. We come in all shapes and sizes and that is something we should feel comfortable with and enjoy – we should enjoy ourselves.
For more information about Thia’s dance studio, “Belly Dancing by Thia,” including a class schedule, visit www.bellydancingbythia.com.