Bellydance with Marta

Written by Lizzie Macauley

When it comes to performing, I’m a great member of the audience.

As a hopeless introvert, the idea of standing up in front of anyone and doing something – anything – that makes me vulnerable is pretty terrifying.

It’s not exactly my sweet spot.

I had known for a long time that this month’s column was on the horizon, and the closer it got, the more I wanted to run away and hide.

I was scared to let go and try something new.

So when we arrive at the scene of this month’s experience, a belly dancing class and this vibrant, confident, beautiful young woman stands before us, totally owning her space, oozing grace, glamour and feminine power… the nervous lump in my throat gets a little bigger…

“This is no place for a mumsy type like me who has no rhythm and lots of wobbles!” my nasty little
inner critic assures me.

Marta begins the class with a demo of her talents.

It’s magical, mystical and captivating. A whirl of colour and sparkle and skin.

There is radiance in every movement, and it’s clear that local enchantress Marta had been born to
pursue this artform.

(My eldest daughter, 4, saw a picture of Marta and was astonished that I’d gotten to “dance with a mermaid”)

My heart skips a beat as she brings me up to be a part of her demonstration. I’m embarrassed that I don’t embody any of Marta’s spectacular qualities described earlier, and there’s certainly nothing captivating about me.

But, we’re in a safe space full of beautifully connected women and hey, I could do with a giant prod (or two) out of my comfort zone.

I join in and what do you know, I don’t die of embarrassment! (who knew, right?!)

The next steps are for all of us to join as a group and learn the basics.

Marta expertly, gently, guides us through six core movements, some as simple as putting one foot in front of the other, others requiring a bit more coordination.

There are hips, arms and shoulders mastering the moves wherever you look, and a real sense of unity develops.

The longer the lesson goes, the further away from my fears and Insecurities I get.

We finish by tying all the moves together and uttering the occasional zaghārīt (a traditional Middle Eastern call of honour).

I’m frankly astounded at what we’ve managed to achieve in such a short amount of time – not just the learning of new physical skills, but breaking through some fairly substantial comfort zone

As a group we have learned the power of letting go, and celebrating our femininity. Of working together without fear or judgement. Of fully committing to a moment and just having a bit
of fun.

After class Marta explains that her interest in belly dancing is actually generational – with her mum and sisters also embracing the artform. What an amazing spectacle at family get-togethers
that must be!

She is an excellent teacher in every way – patient, understanding, encouraging. She runs classes for all ages (from 18 and up) and abilities and performs at all sorts of venues and events. It actually sounds like a pretty cool way to connect with your fellow humans.

Belly dancing has to be the most unexpected encounter of my life in recent years. I really enjoyed my time with Marta and the group of brave Alivers who joined me on the day. Even if you’re as shy and introverted as me, I’d really encourage anyone who has even the slightest curiosity to give it a go. You’ll be well looked after and might just learn something new about yourself and the
wonderful people around you.

With thanks to Marta of MARTA BELLYDANCE 399 Esplanade, Torquay QLD 4655 or, and to all the wonderful women who came together to make the day such a fabulous experience!