From hula dancing I graduated to much more difficult belly dancing. I chose Turkish style known for its energetic shimmies, hip vibrations and clicking cymbals over the more sedate Egyptian. I made my costume with bead, sequin, and fringe decorated bra one stitch at a time. The “V” shaped hip belt included four layers of coin chains for shimmy emphasis and a lavender chiffon skirt for a dream like allure. Accessories included a chiffon hip/neck scarf, slave ankle chain bracelet and large gold plated hoop earrings for a Turkish bedlay style.
My costume included a lavender nylon
panty except when dancing before hubby due to his rapid response. Belly dancing
changed my self-image from long neck ugly duckling to temptress. Gyrations with
cymbals clicking in front of him resulted in being picked up, carried to bed
and nailed before I could go through the next dance movement.
The instructor, a plump, middle
aged, former professional dancer led a class of about a dozen women. Her class was
a venue for teaching an art and educating Americans about Turkey, a hobby income
supplement to her day job. I learned where Turkey is on the globe and
eventually visited there and learned belly dancing is one of the few things
which unite opposing Turkish, Armenian and Greek cultures.
There are 7 core movements to master
with many variations due to ethnic and instructor nuances, most unnoticed by
the untrained eye. We learned lifts and drops, slides, shimming, twists,
circles, figure 8's and finally undulations as we trained muscles to avoid
contortion injuries. We also learned to practice when there was no male
significant other to interrupt.
My flexible body made it easier than
for most to master a movement. My “long” neck was ideal for head slides, my
bosom and hips for shimming and my nimble sewing fingers for the cymbals, my
slanted eyes an asset. In costume, with heavy eye makeup, I converted the
stigma of youth associated with Cobra and adopted it as my stage name. With the
instructor’s guidance I wore heavy eye makeup to emphasis “Cobra” eyes and used
Liz Taylor in the movie Cleopatra for
Tricks which needed to be mastered
were concentrating on the movement of one body part, relaxation of other parts,
breathing control, joint flexibility and body music response. Once a month our
instructor took the class out for a performance, typically before a sedate
audience and often before women only. Beginners performed in a group but those
advanced did a short solo exhibition of their most recent mastered movement.
As I advanced my dancing began
empowering, first with my husband and then with the audience as my movements
captured attention. The dancer keeps a stoic face while performing but makes
eye contact with the audience especially a singled out male. I began to enjoy selecting
a man in the audience then mesmerizing him through movements while keeping eye