Diary of… a belly dancer

Alejandra De Olivera, who prefers to be called Alex, was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She is a freshman communication studies major and a future reporter. She is a Christian, who follows God’s word and actions of forgiveness, patience, goodwill and humility. Her two favorite quotes are “Life is a great canvas, and you should throw all the paint on it you can” by Dany Kaye and “A smile is the lighting system of the face, the cooling system of the head and the heating system of the heart” by Unknown.

I’ve always loved dancing, but I started getting interested in belly dancing when I went to Miami-Dade College in 2008. I saw a performer on TV and saw how sensual and fit she looked. She danced amazingly and her costume was so sparkly and sexy.

I took a dance appreciation class, which taught how dance is meaningful to different people around the world. It was difficult at first because I wasn’t used to the flexibility. I needed that flexibility to make those extreme movements. I also felt awkward because it was very new to me. I had to learn to dance like a snake practically. I would try to imitate a performer on TV and laugh at what I was doing, but with practice I got it, and then I added my personality to it.

I was nervous, too, because I thought I would miss a step or forget to do a turn. My classmates were staring at every inch of my body, but eventually I forgot that I was being watched, and it was so much fun. Once I listened to the music, I practiced the dance step-by-step, and I learned it. It was awesome afterwards.

For my final grade in the class, five girls and I chose belly dancing. When I danced with my teammates in front of the class, it was great because I was the star at that moment.

Everybody put their attention on me. I was being admired.

When I perform in front of people, I get an adrenaline rush. People are just staring at me. I get nervous when I’m afraid of making a mistake or forgetting a step but I’m more excited. It gets better with time because I am used to the dance.

Belly dancing strengthens and tones the whole body while developing grace and balance. It improves flexibility in the spine and hips. When I dance, I feel like I rule the stage. It is my moment to express myself as I feel the music in my heart.

I believe body language says way more than words. Through belly dancing, you get to know me. You get to know that I am shy, sweet, sensible, enchanting, exciting, hip and even sensual. I can express sadness or happiness. I dance like nobody is watching. I enjoy dancing barefoot because it helps me feel good and comfortable in my own skin. I put on makeup and a sexy costume, and I change from every-day ordinary me into a sensual and sexy woman.

I can’t walk around with dramatic make-up, walk barefoot on the street or wear a tiny top. So when I get to perform it’s great. I am the same person on and off stage. I am bubbly and sociable. The difference is I wear a costume. People perceive me in one way when they see me walking around, but when I wear a costume, it’s different and amazing.

I believe clothing tells the story of a person and belly dancing has so many gorgeous outfits that it’s incredible. The colors and the costume design say who you are at that moment.

For now, belly dancing is just a hobby for me, but I would love to dance professionally. Everything happens in its own time. Right now, I am focused on my career, but I will dance for fundraisers. It makes me happy to dance for a good cause, rather than to just get paid to dance.

People think it’s funny that I teach myself at home with YouTube, but it is my hobby and I love practicing this way. I don’t have to spend money to enjoy something I love. I make things very simple for myself.

In today’s world you have to be serious and think about your profession. Things can get more stressful each day and I think belly dancing is a great way to de-stress. You can enjoy that you are a woman and why not enjoy that you are beautiful and feminine? I think that sometimes women forget or don’t have the time to enjoy themselves and to explore and love themselves.

I recommend belly dancing to other women because you will have fun learning the moves, jingling and shimmying and enjoying the flirtatious, yet elegant, expression of the dance. The great thing about this is if women practice at the gym, they can find new friends. Or, they can practice through YouTube and be in the comfort of their own home for an hour a day.

Any woman can practice belly dancing, whether to exercise or to have fun. It is a celebration of feminity.

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