Pillaton WI Report - January 2011

Pillaton WI Learns Belly Dancing

It may have been grey, wet and cold outside, but Pillaton Village Hall was full of colour for our January meeting, when Eastern Spice brought a glimpse of the exotic Middle East into our lives.

Sheila Buchanan and her team – Toni, Barbara and Jean – had come along to share their love of belly dancing with us. A traditional form of Middle Eastern dance, with its origins rooted in the folk traditions of ancient Arab tribal regions, it was popularised in Western lands during the Romantic movement of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The “danse du ventre”, as the French termed it, drew audiences in to the burlesque theatres of the era. It also became associated with Romanies, or travelling gypsies, who added their own rhythms and interpretations to the original forms of the dance, disseminating it as they travelled westwards.

Today, belly dancing is a fusion of different styles and cultures, including influences from flamenco, gypsy and Egyptian dance, even Indian, as evidenced by the use of dance in Bollywood musicals.

The dance style has been embraced by some of our modern day popular singers, too, with Britney Spears, Christine Aguilera and Beyoncé all having been filmed performing belly dance.

The Eastern Spice ladies came attired in their own colourful costumes, each representing a different style of the dance. It came alive when we watched them perform – shimmies, hip hits, undulations, pops and locks . . . They made it look effortless, elegant and fluid. Toni explained that her style of dance was a duet between the dancer and the drummer, an improvisation following the drummer’s lead. Barbara offered up a dance described as a fusion of flamenco and traditional belly dance. Jean demonstrated Bollywood belly dance, where the hands and facial movements help to tell the story. Sheila showed us a dance with the veil, telling us that dancing in this way can help strengthen arms and shoulders.

They brought along a selection of brightly coloured silk harem pants, flowing skirts, lighter-than-air veils and beaded and fringed hip belts and bras for us to see and handle.

The hall was abuzz as we swapped woolly jumpers and scarves – the heating wasn’t great that evening! – for hip belts tied over our own clothes. None of us felt brave enough to strip off and reveal bare midriffs in the chilly January air, but under Eastern Spice’s encouraging tuition, we had a go at some of the movements. As we struggled to undulate, shimmy and thrust our hips amidst great hilarity, we were aware our efforts looked nothing like the dancing we had seen performed, but we had great fun and at least it warmed us up. As my school report used to say: “Needs more effort”.

The business meeting reminded members that their subscriptions for the coming year are now due and should be paid to our Treasurer, Sue Archer, please. We are also reminded that the Resolutions for 2011 are to be voted for and details are in the WI Life magazine.

Dates for your diaries include several events organised by Cornwall Federation, including February 18 “All a Buzz”; February 23 “Come and Try”; March 11 “Operetta” with Peter Clarke; March 16 and 31 “Egg Stravanganza” and April 6 “Income tax workshop”. Details are in your County News.

We have Pillaton WI’s Birthday Party meal to look forward to on March 19 in Pillaton Village Hall, when members and their husbands, partners or friends are invited to enjoy a meal prepared by Shirley Floyd.

Our next meeting will be on February 14, when Rob Fierek will lead a “Hands on pottery” workshop. This will be messy, so don’t wear your best frock!

Pillaton WI is a friendly group and welcomes new members, so if you would like to come along to see what we do, please join us in Pillaton Village Hall. We meet at 7.30 pm on the second Monday of each month. If you would like to know more about Pillaton WI, please contact me on 351289.

Ann Henderson

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Last updated: 14 January 2011 Contact Us