Do the BELLY way!

Amrita Prasad
Thursday, 7 September 2017

Belly dancing has evolved and gained acceptance today, says Priyasha Deochake, city-based dancer-instructor, ahead of her performance

There is a certain charm about belly dance. With its beautiful rhythm and movements, it is considered as one of the most sensuous dance forms. The middle eastern dance form is today practised all over the world and even adopted in Bollywood choreography. City-based belly dancer and founder and creative director of Anubhooti Dance, Priyasha Deochake is going to showcase a belly dance performance titled ‘The Tenth Element-Belly Dance and Beyond’ on September 10 where 12 female belly dancers will perform. 

Deochake, who started dancing back in 2009, had a brush with Bollywood where she was exposed to belly dancing. “I was fascinated with belly dancing and decided to pursue it further. I learnt from a Canadian lady and also attended a lot of workshops. After that, it has been my own journey of self exploration in that art form,” says Deochake. 

Talking about her upcoming dance showcase in the city, Deochake says that it is based on the Nav Rasa depicted in Abhinay Darpan, one of the main sources of textual material for the study of the technique and grammar of body movement in dance. “We are exploring these emotions through belly dance movements. The nine rasas -- Sringara (love), Hasya (joy), Adbhuta (wonder), Vira (courage), Shanta (peace), Karuna  (sadness), Raudra (anger), Bhayanaka (fear) and Bibhatsa (disgust). This is a very new concept, something that the audience will witness for the first time in the city. In a belly dance too, facial expressions are extremely important. You connect with the audience through the feelings you emote, otherwise your performance will fall flat. We are also attempting at emoting the nine feelings through both facial expressions and belly movements,” she informs. 

When asked about the awareness and acceptance of the dance form, she says that it has grown in the last one decade. “Back in the day, it was limited to Shakira, or restricted to only Bollywood performances but now it is evolving. People are accepting it and looking at it in a positive light. The dance is today fused with other dance forms. It’s a positive scene,” she says adding that even in Pune, parents are sending their children to the classes. We have even seen men performing belly dance and performing openly in India. “Anyone can do belly dance, it’s not gender-specific. When you look at the history of belly dance, you find that it is actually a folk dance performed by both men and women in the Middle-Eastern part of the world. So, there should be no inhibitions — no matter what shape, size, age or gender you are, you can always learn the dance form.” 

Unlike other dance forms where your entire body moves while performing, belly dance requires some specific moves. Says Deochake, “Belly dance doesn’t really require movement of the limbs. It is about using more of the core part of your body. And that’s where the real challenge lies. It is easier to move your limbs but it’s difficult to move your torso, stomach, chest, and hips. When we start training someone in this dance, the first thing they need to work on is the core part of their body. So belly dance is all about back strength and core strengthening and that’s how you start. As you progress as a dancer, you can add variations like arm movements, foot movements and so on.”

Talking about the kind of music, she says, “The music and rhythms suit the dance form. Since the music is very grounded, the hip movements go well with it. But you can fuse it with any other dance style and perform to any music genre.” 

She further says that you have to be very graceful as belly dance itself is a very graceful dance form. 

“You either teach and or become a performer. As the number of people coming to you grows, it can open up more opportunities for you as teacher. Many look at belly dance as fitness dance form, so there are many takers,” she concludes.

The Tenth Element-Belly Dance and Beyond will be held on September 10 at MES Auditorium, Mayur Colony, Kothrud at 6.30 pm

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