Bellydancer Denise Tapia, left, is new to Clearwater and is thinking about the possibility of starting classes locally for the activity, which she said is good exercise for the body and mind. Photo by K.A. Pendergast

Interview with a bellydancer

Dance is good for overall health of body and mind

By K.A.Pendergast

Bellydancing came about and became popular in the 18th century. The styles used in most are a combination of many countries influencing the movements and costumes. The entertainment value and harem type of costumes romanticized the dancers.

Many were arrested for offending the Victorian sensibilities of noblemen, but luckily things have greatly changed since then.

Just how much you may ask? Well, I will tell you.

The subject of the interview was Denise Tapia. She and her daughters recently moved to Clearwater and they dance in the American Tribal style. This style of dance was developed more than 30 years ago in San Francisco, California.

It’s more about women’s empowerment and enjoyed with that idea in mind. There are a number of traditional dances also that are mostly being reclaimed with people going back towards their roots.

American Tribal style is a more informal dance. This style has no storytelling and the movements have two speeds—very fast and very slow.

“I know that seems strange, but there is no in-between,” Tapia said.

Who doesn’t love Mountains?

The slow dances are strong sinuous movements almost like a snake slithering. The fast movements use the cues from the instructor or leader to keep the followers in line.

The style, as stated, uses a leader and followers. The demonstration at the fashion show consisted of Tapia and one of her daughters dancing, and even switching the leadership of the dance back and forth.

This unique style is more improvised and the chance of messing up is greater, which is one of the challenges.

Tapia said this style of dance is one of the best because it’s one that can be used throughout a person’s lifetime, unlike many other types of dances, such as ballet. The dance is good for the overall health of body and mind.

As we age, we need quick reactions and to keep ourselves supple and fit. However, Penticton has a group of dancers that focus on the youth in the area. So there are many benefits to all ages. The future for the dance in this community is just starting.

Tapia may do a demonstration or show with help from her daughter and others in a former group and she discussed the possibility of classes and the idea of starting a troupe was also mentioned.

She will be looking into options in the area and the community can look forward to whatever she decides to share.

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