Dazzled by the Italian moves

BELLY DANCING

Dazzled by the Italian moves

The Furor Dance Studio in Koramangala was filled with the rhythmic sounds of the coin belts, that were worn by the students taking part in the beginner’s level belly dance workshop.

Sanaz Dance Studio organised a special introductory belly dance workshop by the talented Italian-duo Najma Asani and Massimilano Devito (Jonas).

While Jonas played rhythmic beats on his drums, Najma danced to the beats and taught the students at the workshop, who were delighted by the live music from the drums, rhythmic movements of hips and an ever-smiling teacher.

Najma, a trained belly dancer, is an international performer and a dance teacher. Teaching at a dance academy in Italy called the ‘Centro Asani’, she also learnt kuchipudi dance from her Indian guru Saraswathi. To Najma, dancing is a way of life. “Dance to me is very spiritual. I gave birth to my baby girl dancing. I did not feel any pain. It is because I am a dancer and dancing has helped me maintain a healthy lifestyle. The controlled breathing that l learnt during belly dancing is the reason why I had an easy delivery,” she says.

An international belly dancer, she has also written musicals. One of her musicals, she says is about Mata Hari, a dancer in the 20th century. “I have written a musical on Mata Hari. She was a Frisian exotic belly dancer who was convicted of being a spy. She was hanged in France under charges of espionage during the World War,” she says.

Having been in the field for the last 22 years, she says that belly dancing is misunderstood. “I would like to rename belly dancing to Oriental dance as it does not just involve the movement of your belly. You move every single muscle in your body from head to toe (the movement of your hair counts too). And also belly dance is not dirty dancing. It is a very sacred dance that can help women have a healthier lifestyle,” she adds.

She says that this Oriental dance style helps women build strength and flexibility. It helps women to be both strong and sensuous. The gracious dancer says that this art form is being commercialised and that she wants to alter this.

“I do not dance at any events. The place where I perform has to be like a temple for dancing. So I only perform in dance theatres. I want to change the wrong notion of belly dancing. I am travelling the world and spreading the tradition of this dance as taught to me by my guru Zaza Hassan, who started the first school of belly dancing in Europe,” she says.     

As she signs off, her advice to all women is to explore their feminity and have a healthy life by practising this Oriental dance style.  

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