When you hear about how belly dance is for women of all sizes, ages, shapes and colors, it really does cover quite a variety of different women! While there are also quite a few male dancers, the majority of belly dancers are still women. I know women dancing in their 70’s-80's as well as babies still in their mother’s wombs, who then begin dancing as soon as they can walk. I know of dancers of many different cultures performing ME dance, and women of all shapes and sizes. It is a dance that you can take to whatever level you choose and work towards. It is a beautiful cultural art form that provides good exercise and camaraderie.
There was one event I attended, it could have been Medfest many years ago, where a number of performers shared their occupations or other pertinent life information as part of their introductions. What a variety women had: careers, homemaking, retired or students, and maybe more than one of these! Just looking at the original members of Desert Silk Dance Company, we had a Regional Administrator, an Elementary Educator, a Human Resource Director, a Trauma Nurse, a Cytotechnologist, an Artist, an Accounting Supervisor, and a College Student! My current troupe members include a Department Director, a District Court Supervisor, an Elementary School and Arts Instructor and a Caregiver Instructor. I imagine if you took any troupe, you would see quite a variety of things going on in each dancers’ lives. And on top of that, many dancers have additional things going on as well (ie parenting/families, health issues, other dance styles or hobbies, etc.)
Speaking of other dance styles, a number of dancers have performed or studied other forms of dance in addition to belly dance. At the same time, many belly dancers have not studied other forms of dance. These dimensions add to the kaleidoscope. Luckily, you can attain a level of proficiency in this style of dance quicker compared to many other styles of dance. It still takes a lot of practice and study to be a good belly dancer. It’s also never to late to start, as you can make this type of dance as low or high impact as you want. But it’s also good advice to not only keep on learning more about ME dance as you go, but to also study and/or become familiar with other dance styles, too. I have enjoyed watching modern, South Pacific, Flamenco, Japanese, ballet, folk dance and other types of dance performances, and have been able to glean pertinent dance information, such as blocking, use of stage, visual techniques and other gems.
It’s also good to see and support other styles of dance to get cultural and dance information across to others, and by supporting other cultures, and dance in general, it helps support what you have chosen to do. There have been venues where ME dance styles, and other styles have shared the same stage successfully, and beautifully. Oftentimes, ME dance is fusion, blending different dances, music and costuming from different cultures, and is also successful and beautiful.
The kaleidoscope of women and men is colorful and bright in ME dance, and adds to the flavor of this art form. It is great to see so many different people coming together to embrace such wonderful styles of dances under the umbrella of the name "Belly Dance." With so many different styles of ME dances as well, there is a lot to choose from that fits each dancer best and that one can enjoy the most. Hooray for diversity in dancers!