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This blog follows Dance Wire’s Founder/Director Emily Running in her adventures taking new dance classes all over Portland.
Henna is one of the incredible talents in the Portland Bellydance community. She has been teaching since 2006, is an award winning performer, and with her genuine and chill personality, she easily feel likes your best friend.
This class was my very first bellydance class ever. While Henna teaches all over town, I went to her class at Riverside Performing Arts Center in Vancouver which is super easy to find and has convenient parking. Arriving just a tad early I chatted with Henna and the other four women in class as we waited for the tiny tap dancers to clear the room. (seriously adorable!)
Class started with a warm up and break down of some of the standard hip patterns. Despite having done “isolations” in many a jazz class in the past, this took immense focus. I also discovered my deep core muscles working and stretching in ways I had never experienced. Lesson #1: what feels like a lot, probably won’t always look like a lot when you’re first starting out. It was clear that years of stretching and strengthening on this micro level is key to those quick and intricate movements bellydance is known for.
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We continued to explore different movement patterns, and since it was a beginner class Henna described each one in great detail. Where the weight was on the feet….when it transferred to the other foot….whether the movement was being done in a horizontal or vertical plane….what shape it would look like if drawn with a marker. The detail itself is beautiful and fascinating and Henna is clearly an expert both at the movement as well as the rich history of the style.
Giving our brains a little break and adding another element to the mix, we each got a veil. In contrast, the veil allowed for subtle movement that was visually grand.
We ended the class with follow along choreography of some of the skills we learned in class, with a few extra turns and shimmies just for show.
Henna describes bellydance as “the medium that I use to interpret my world and to celebrate all of the joys and sorrows of life.“ If you’re looking for a low impact style of dance that is filled with history, culture, precision, and femininity, look no further!
Find more Portland-area dance classes on Dance Wire’s Find A Class Directory.