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  1. #1
    Member Selene's Avatar
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    Question Too Skinny for belly dance? honest question ><

    Hello,

    <I just guess I needed to get this out of my system, sorry I know it is super long, thanks for taking your time to read this!>

    Well, I don't know where to start, but let me just say this is a serious question. In many dance forms being thin is seeing as a virtue, but I am not sure if that is the case with belly dance. I know that in belly dance there is an acceptance for all shapes and sizes, but I still see a preference (and I understand it) for the curvy type, not talking about weight here, just shape. Anyway, I know I probably shouldn't be concerned about this, everyone has a different body shape, and the dance is much more important than the body, but I can't help it, and my wanting to talk about this only grows as I see more and more dancers and learn more about this beautiful form of art.

    So, I am thin, very very thin, and I don't only see this as an advantage as many people might think. I used to get a lot of comments from people telling me I need to eat more, that I look like a walking stick, asking if I had eating disorders, telling me many mean things that contributed to a very low self-esteem while I was growing up. I've become a much more confident person after I started university some years ago, and although I am still thin, I dont hear as many comments as before and I really dont care much anymore. I've been in love with belly dance since forever and this year I FINALLY started taking classes, I love them so so so much, I feel confident in class, I think I am learning a lot and that Im a good student (although I should practice more at home >< still getting used to organize my time) but, this thought about being too skinny has been bugging me for long, and I'm afraid it might mess with my confidence. I haven't seen any dancers with a similar body structure to mine (I'll get to that in a moment) and I started to worry because of course I dream of becoming a performer someday and I want to be a good one, and not seeing anyone that reminded me of my own body structure made me think that maybe women that are "too skinny" are not successful in bellydance.

    I don't want to have this in my mind, I know it is not good, but I haven't found anything that gives me some hope that I wont be judged more by my body structure than by my dance. I know most of you have been in the bellydance world for much longer than me, so of course you have more knowledge about this subject. What are your opinions about this? How do you think this is seen in the bellydance world, mainly in the performance subject?


    Finally, so you have an idea why I am so worried I will explain briefly(I'll try) my body structure: I have LONG limbs but I am only 5'3"(1.60m), my legs and arms give the impression that I am taller, but also thiner, as a consequence I have a short torso oh, and small boobs too. My "curves" are still blooming, but growing up in the caribbean, with a family of women with guitar shaped bodies, I sure look shapeless next to them hahah yes I ahve a small waist, but I have small hips too, so not much shape in there. I weight 90lbs (but I eat healthy, and enough, sometimes more! and I've tried to gain weight but it has been very difficult for me, I just have a very fast metabolism and very very light and thin bones). Now to the bones (T.T) I am not "bonny"" all over, but my arms and hands are, a LOT >< when I am practicing dance I always notice them and try extra hard to make them look softer, if you know what I mean, but elbows have really accentuated angles, and fingers refuse to look relaxed. To add to all of this I am the skinniest in all the dance classes I have been too -.- and usually I have to put some extra effort accentuating the moves so they are noticeable(which can be positive because my body will become stronger I think).

    (I said I would try XD, I find it impossible to keep it short lol)


    I promise this is honest, whenever I talk about "being skinny" people either say I shouldnt complain or that a real woman has more curves... I am of the kind to think that we should celebrate ALL body shapes, and I think diversity is a beautiful thing and as long as a woman is happy and healthy, her body will be beautiful. I just hope the belly dance comunity around the world also accepts diversity with open arms.

  2. #2
    Member Kartane's Avatar
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    Hello Selene -

    So glad you have finally been able to start practicing this art form and that you LOVE it! We do too!

    A couple things came to mind when reading you post. First it is very brave of you to put your concerns out there. As women, we all have such issues with expectations about our looks and it is difficult to talk about sometimes. Second, some of the most lovely dancers I know are very, very thin...Natalie Brown of Colorado comes to mind, as does Jenny Cohen of New York City. Third - oh arms and hands! Believe me when I say they are so, so very hard to make graceful and soft! I am a slightly chunky semi athletic body type and for so long all my arms did was "arch arch poke chunk chunk"...they are better now..but arms and hands take a while. Fear not! This is a dance that you are never finished learning and never finished improving and if you love it, just keep dancing and the grace will come. It all takes time and every BODY has to find its own way of expressing the dance.
    Last edited by Kartane; 10-01-2014 at 04:07 PM. Reason: Typos

  3. #3
    Moderator Darshiva's Avatar
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    No, you're not too skinny, or too fat, or too tall or too short for bellydancing.

    Here's the amazing Ava Fleming, who, from your description, has a very similar body shape - tiny, long limbs and long lean lines.



    Do not diss your body. Own it, like Ava does!
    Bellydance in Kyabram!
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  4. #4
    Member Kartane's Avatar
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    Natalie Brown - Thin, long-limbed and awesome!


    Jenny C. Cohen - Theatrical and Amazing (Older video)
    Last edited by Kartane; 10-01-2014 at 04:52 PM.

  5. #5
    Moderator Shanazel's Avatar
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    Oh, that Ava Fleming drum solo! I'd die happy if I could dance like that for five minutes.

    Nope. You are not too thin and you are right that we should celebrate diversity. To be absolutely truthful, you will come across those who do not and sometimes their perception problems can become our problem. There are employers who reject anyone who is not young, perfectly curved, super-toned, and drop dead beautiful no matter how well they dance. There are insecure types who think nothing of making rude personal remarks to others. The best advice I can give you is to hold your good manners in front of you like a shield, keep your head up, and let the remarks slide off like you are made of Teflon.
    "Well, now that we have seen each other," said the unicorn " if you'll believe in me, I'll believe in you."

  6. #6
    V.I.P. Kashmir's Avatar
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    You've raised a few questions. Too skinny for belly dance? No.

    Too skinny for professional success? Maybe - because as a hired dancer you have to grab the client's attention. If you are too thin, too fat, too young, too old, too white, too dark, too tall, too short, too ugly, too beautiful, too sexy, a blonde, dark haired, or look like their ex-girl friend you won't get the chance to show what a good dancer you are. In many cases one thing that works against you in one situation will be a plus somewhere else (eg tats). It is a commercial reality.

    Now, do you WANT to be a professional dancer? Because only a tiny percentage are - and it isn't what the dance is all about. Enjoy dancing for its own sake.

    Now, think about it. Men belly dance. Do they have curves? (mostly) not. Do they have breasts? No. Can they dance? Yes! Can their movements be seen? Yes.

    Here's some more things to think about. One of the biggest faults I see in beginner dance is the movements are too big (there was an awful video posted recently of a chorus with Dina - and they were ALL over doing it - ugghh!). Don't push into this territory. Nothing wrong with small movements - if the quality is good. Rather than working on overdoing it - look at what you are doing. If there is no movement at all maybe you need help. Maybe you need work on your range of motion - or strength - or physical co-ordination. None of these are you body shape. Many dancers have issues here.

    If your current dance class insists on big - you may not have to right teacher - or the right style. Consider tracking down an Egyptian styled class.

    What to do with bony looks and big hands. The latter is often easish to fix. I have big hands and I came from a jazz background where big stiff hands were a plus but I worked on them for a couple of months and they came right. But that is the point, you won't wake up one morning with nice hands. Spend time stretching them , moving them about, looking at the shape they make and modifying it, consider slightly tucking the thumb sideways, change the curve of the fingers (not too straight, not clawed), use images (for me stroking deep fur). Again and again until when you place your hands - they automatically look good.

    Arms are similar - but there are different muscles and joints to co-ordinate. Move. Look. Correct. Use some of the ballet arm position exercises. Think about shape, paths, position. It takes time but it is possible.
    Last edited by Kashmir; 10-01-2014 at 08:19 PM.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Duvet's Avatar
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    No, you are not too thin to bellydance. You might not fit the bellydance 'stereotype' held by other people, including other bellydancers, or even by yourself. but do you want to be a stereotype? Whilst you might see a preponderance of the curvy shape on the belly dance floor, this could be because they are getting your attention more, and also some dancers will actually fake their shape (padded bras, extra scarfs on hips, hair extensions, etc) to fulfill their own images of what they think a bellydancer should look like. The 'stereotype' is one driven by commercial punters looking for a narrow ideal. It is not real life.

    If you are aiming to be a professional, then thinness (along with alot of other stuff like age, gender, height, weight, etc) will be used to make a snap decision about your suitability for a paying client. But that does not in any way reflect on your dancing ability or potential - only on the clients' taste. If you spend time going to haflas and watching other people dance you'll soon realise that the 'stereotype' is only one of the many shapes and sizes that bellydancers are. Bellydance, in my experience, does accept all body forms and types, but you will find the occasional individual dancer who is critical of you, rather than of anything you've done. It is normally their own agenda and hang-ups speaking - and will have nothing really to do with you. So the best course of action is to have nothing to do with them.

    Whilst bellydance can make you feel really great about yourself, it can at times make you feel frustrated with your body. You try a new move, and rarely does it seem to come with a natural smoothness and grace, and it never looks as good as your teacher or role model! But its a new way of moving - unfamiliar muscles doing unfamiliar things. It's a new way of seeing yourself move, too. Anything new can feel awkward, so its not unnatural to feel its your body thats the obstacle. But its not your body, its your tension. Relax, be patient and practise. Close your eyes to how you think you look or how you think other people see you. Get the technique, listen to the music, connect to your body. Don't aim to be a copycat. Who else can express yourself the way you do?

    And if your thinness does stand out amongst the rest of a curvy group - then smile and dance and show the audience that bellydance does accept all shapes and sizes, and maybe help change that narrow 'stereotype' yourself.

  8. #8
    Moderator Darshiva's Avatar
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    I just realised I know a teacher with your general shape - two actually. One did her teacher training in my group and the other I bunked in with at a teachers retreat. Both are amazing, phenominal women with amazing grace and elegance on stage.

    So no, you are definitely not alone in shape when it comes to bellydance.
    Bellydance in Kyabram!
    Skype classes a specialty.
    Email kyabrambellydance@gmail.com for more information.

  9. #9
    Premium Member Aniseteph's Avatar
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    Seconding what's been said about the professional side, that's a whole different animal. But for learning and enjoying the dance itself, no it doesn't matter what shape you are, and anyone telling you otherwise has probably got their own baggage/ issues/ agenda and ought to mind their own business.

    Some things will look good on your body, some not so much, sometimes it's about more practice (clunky and awkward is normal while you are getting the hang of a new move) and sometimes it's just the way it is. Explore, find your strengths, investigate classwear that makes you feel good, and enjoy!

  10. #10
    Moderator Safran's Avatar
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    I agree with what has been said before. If you love dancing and it makes you happy, then go ahead! Dance, enjoy, learn, and pretty soon you will find things in the dance that actually really compliment your body type. There is something in our dance for everyone! For example, long limbs can really contribute to the way you "own" the stage. Being thin, you can wear some wonderfully outrageous costumes with 3d flowers and stuff. Etc. Just give it time and you'll find your path.

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