"For Lorrie Pierce, belly dancing is more than just an exotic, 1,000-year-old practice - it’s a confidence-builder for women that also promotes coordination, muscle tone and weight loss along with a sense of femininity and body comfort. Best of all is the sense of camaraderie that develops among the women..."READ MORE
by Alissa Mejia
"When Lorrie Pierce, owner of Hourglass Bellydance Studio, contacted me about writing about belly dancing, I felt excited and nervous — excited because I have wanted for a while to explore dance as a fitness option, but nervous because that also meant I would have to get out of my comfort zone and try something requiring coordination.
What ended up surprising me most about the experience, however, was learning how many common assumptions about belly dancing are wrong. First off, a stereotypical “dancer’s body” is not required. “It’s for all women,” Pierce said. “At shows we see grade school through grandmas — all shapes, sizes, and ethnicities.”
Second, the term “belly dance” itself is a misnomer. The dance requires full-body engagement, with a focus on the hips. Dancers undulate the torso muscles, but just as important — and challenging — is isolating specific muscles meant to remain still. Part of the dance’s appeal is its no-impact nature. The initial steps are accessible to even a complete beginner, as I found. That does not make it easy, though.
Tammy Umberson, who began classes five years ago, said her daughter discovered this during a recent visit. “She came to a class with me and said, ‘mom, this is so hard. I can’t believe how hard it is,’ ” Umberson said. “And she works out like a fiend. She can do a handstand for like five minutes.”
While belly dancing is an ancient art practiced by men and women, Pierce focuses exclusively on women’s classes. She offers a six-week fundamentals class focusing on learning movements, posture and technique. She also offers drills classes for practicing specific techniques, and beginner, intermediate and advanced classes on choreography.
Admittedly, this dance’s frequent focus on women, women’s body motions and bare midriffs had me wondering how healthy belly dancing is for body image and feminism in general. That worry turned out to be my third misconception. Qualitative research has found that women practicing belly dancing describe increases in physical and mental well-being. One only needs to step into the studio, however, to hear real-life tales of how an art that develops control of posture, strength and movement can translate into broader life gains.
“As a female it’s a very empowering feeling when everything is limber, you’re feeling flexible and you realize it’s OK to move this way,” said Kimberly Kissoon, a Del Mar College student majoring in dance and biotechnology.
Umberson said the empowerment surprised her as well. “For the first full year I came here, I would not look in the mirror,” she said. “I refused. Then one day I saw myself and thought, ‘That’s me. I can’t believe it.’ ”
by Karen Escarzaga
A monthly newsletter put out by the Texas Coastal Bend Belly Dance Association.
Once a year, the bellydance community looks forward to having a wonderful evening of fun and dancing, and this year was no exception. As the audience waited for the show to begin, everyone enjoyed shopping at the different vendor tables and visiting with each other. Then the doors opened, and the magic began. Lorrie Pierce and The Women of Hourglass Bellydance gave us another fantastic performance. From Lorrie’s beginner class to the performance troupe, each dance had the audience enjoying every minute. The individual costumes reflected the dancer’s personalities. My personal favorites were “Smooth”, “Dissimulation” and “Dohlna”. It was wonderful to see parts of Fosse, Chaplin, and Vaudeville Gypsy in “Drag”. The costumes were mesmerizing, the choreography was amazing, and I wanted to emulate every move. Lorrie is known to be a gracious and thoughtful person in our community and her next act was no exception. Lorrie introduced two of her original founding troupe members of The Women of Hourglass Bellydance, Yolanda Martinez and myself, missing was Nancy Schmidt. Lorrie also introduced her former Bellydance Queens ranging from 2010 to the present, and William Farah, keyboardist since 2007. The audience was in awe, the applause never-ending. Everyone wanted to be part of the performance, and that’s exactly how the night ended. The last dance was open for everyone to enjoy with all the dancers on stage. The audience spent the rest of the night enjoying this year’s recital and start the countdown for 2017’s recital.