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Free belly dance, drumming classes

On Wednesdays, starting May 4, and continuing through May and June, join dance instructor and choreographer Carla Roberts for free belly dance and drum classes at the Ross Aragon Community Center.

Belly dance is a wonderful way to develop muscle control and isolation, graceful arms, and body conditioning from head to toe.

Hand drumming utilizes the doumbek drum which plays the specialized dance rhythms that makes belly dance music so enjoyable to dance to.

A beginners’ dance class runs 1:30-2:30 p.m., and an intermediate dance class runs 2:30-4 . A hand drum class is held 4:30 to 5:30.

In the introductory class at 1:30, new students will learn the basics of a dance style that can trace its history back to Mesopotamia, over 6,000 years ago. No prior dance experience is necessary.

The 2:30 intermediate class, for those with some experience with belly dance, has an emphasis on solo, duet, and troupe performance, costume design and study of the basic dance rhythms.

The graceful hip drops, rolls, and pivots of this dance form utilize muscle groups in the abdomen, pelvis, trunk, spine, and neck, working with the body instead of against it and is based on movements that come naturally to the female form. There is a wealth of health benefits awaiting those who practice this form of dance.

During the dance, the movements of hip drops, circles, figure eights, and shimmies put the joints and ligaments in the lower back and hip through a full range of gentle, repetitive motion. This movement helps increase the flow of synovial fluid (nature’s lubricant) in these joints. When movements are done properly, the pelvis is tipped forward, or tucked somewhat; a neutral position that can help prevent lower back problems helping relieve stress to the back, and counteracting the almost constant compression of the disks that occurs from sitting and a sedentary lifestyle.

Small muscle groups deep in the back that are normally under-exercised are used and strengthened. The muscles surrounding the hip, the largest joint in the body, are used and exercised during hip drops, and figure eights, enhancing flexibility and suppleness. Improved hip flexibility can lead to improved balance when walking as well.

Arms and shoulders are exercised when doing lifts, circles, or the rippling motions of snake arms, toning muscle. This toning effect is often evident early on, since holding the arms aloft are an important element of the dance, even for beginners.

Because a woman is on her feet, moving during the dance, it is considered a weight-bearing exercise. Weight-bearing exercise can prevent osteoporosis and strengthen bones, and the overall toning can lead to an improved self-image, as the dancer becomes more balanced and poised. The benefits of belly dance can be enjoyed by women of all ages. In the U.S., women from all walks of life are becoming involved in this very ancient dance. Belly dancing is used as a way of celebrating woman’s femininity, as it helps women gain confidence in their bodies. Women who belly dance are having a lot of fun and feel young at heart!

Ladies interested in trying out this exciting dance style can come to the Ross Aragon Community Center on Wednesday, May 4. Classes will continue through June. Wear comfortable clothes, bring a coin hip scarf if you have one, or use scarves and skirts available during the class.

The Ross Aragon Community Center is located at 451 Hot Springs Blvd. For further information, call 264-4152, or Carla Roberts at 731-3117.

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