Saturday, January 30, 2010

Weathersfield Librarian Teaches Belly Dancing


Weathersfield Librarian Teaches Belly Dancing
January 29, 2010
7 PM Martin Memorial Hall, Ascutney VT

Weathersfield librarian, Amity Aldridge taught a beginner Belly Dancing class for members of the Weathersfield Community on a very cold Friday night in January. Aldridge, 25, who grew up in Westminster Vermont, now living in Brattleboro has been studying Belly Dancing for 6 years. She studied dance in high school and attended Johnson State College and the University of Maine/Augusta with a degree in Library and Information Services.

She was hired by the Town of Weathersfield as the librarian of the Weathersfield Proctor Library, located on Route 5 in Ascutney over a year ago and has since implemented many interesting programs for the library patrons.

The class involved a brief explanation of Belly Dancing origins, the variety of styles and basic instructions on the various movements. The close to 30 attendees discovered that Belly Dancing originated as a form of folk dancing in the Middle East and is currently performed in countries including Egypt, Turkey and Lebanon. “Raqs sharqi is the term for belly dance that is performed by professionals in restaurants, cabarets, and night clubs. Raqs baladi is the term for belly dance that is more folkloric and is done socially at parties and weddings in the Middle East” said Aldridge. She goes on to explain “Despite popular belief, belly dance is not a dance of seduction. It is simply a style danced by men and women of all ages, just like Americans all have a certain way of dancing at our parties and weddings.” Aldridge had on display many of her costumes that she created herself for her performances. “The popular belly dance costume of a two-piece bra and belt was actually invented by Hollywood and was adopted in the Middle East after it was learned that Western tourists expected that type of dress. The term "belly dance" was coined by Sol Bloom, the entertainment director for the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago. But belly dance is much more than just undulations of the stomach. It involves the entire body and primarily focuses on the hips. It is great for core and arm strength” Aldridge explained to the students.

She has studied many forms of the dance including: American cabaret, Egyptian, Turkish, and Lebanese. She teaches beginner courses based on the fundamental
movements of all these styles.

Her class fees are $70 for an 8-week session and are one hour long. The first class is always free to try if you are not sure. Currently she is teaching Mondays at 7:15 pm at Twisted Fitness in Claremont, NH starting February 1st and Tuesdays at 7:00 pm at Ripples in Bellows Falls starting February 2nd.

In addition to her classes, Aldridge is available to provide entertainment for weddings, birthdays, retirement or business parties, and fundraisers. She can be contacted through her website: http://bellygramsbyamity.webs.com/ More photos can be viewed at: http://www.photosbynanci.com/proctorlibrary.html