Belly Dance : A Manifestion of Feminity and Rediscovery in India

I say belly dance; and the first set of thoughts trailing in the minds of most in our country are extra slim women, dancing sensually around men, in an extra-baring costume.

Why wouldn’t we ? Every alternate movie plot in our films has an “entertainment song” with a female protagonist’s  role to lure men and dance with her.

But what if I said that the shape and size of a body has no relevance to performing belly dance? What if I said that its roots lie in the sand dunes of Thar Desert and our centuries- old western Indian tribes, before it even reached the Middle East? What if the skin show and entertaining was a myth?

belly dancersThe art form, called “Belly dance” is known to exist since medieval times, practiced as rituals by women of various nomadic tribes to improve and strengthen the abdominal and pelvis muscles during child-birth. That, alongside various natural moving arms and hip movements became their version of dancing as part of a community celebration, thanking Mother Nature and performing for each other. Since then, it has evolved and grown exponentially  in Europe, South East Asia and USA. Yet in India, relatively only about a decade old.

There are many artists, women and men, across India who are the backbone of a flourishing belly dance community in India. One amongst them is Laasya school of Belly dance (Infusion), a pure- belly dance learning and performing school. It is co-founded by two 2 talented dancers, Aakriti Prasad and ShanelleD’Souza , with their branches in Mumbai, Kolkata and Orissa.

Q :Why should someone undertake a training in belly dance ?

Aakriti Prasad: When belly dancing, we are focusing a lot internally at our muscular movements. A belly dancer understands time, space and energy as important tools of creation within and outside of her/his body. This leads to a trained mind and body control, good flexibility, toning and stamina, open mediums to express and a spiritual connection with their soul. It’s a wholesome exercise and a beautiful display of a disciplined art form.

Being trained in Classical Indian dances since their childhood, belly dance technically came easily to them but what made them stay with it; was the medium with which their body and soul was free to express. Their vision is to empower more with a platform to create, express and accept belly dance as a passion, lifestyle or just a simple workout. 

Q – But why the word “Infusion” in your school name ?belly dancer

Aakriti :I was studying and practicing Yoga, Meditation, Martial arts, Indian dance, Belly dance and western dance …. all together for a stretch of 5-6 years. I remember I had gone to Delhi to learn basics of Waacking and Vogueing and I saw some hints of Odissi in it. Similarly, I saw hints of Yoga in Martial Arts….and hints of dance in Kalaripayattu….. The more I spoke to my teachers, the more I understood about movement interpretation and my curiosity grew in manifolds

“‘was all of it one, in reality, with just different interpretations?”

Shanelle : Laasya in the Sanskrit text means a “dancing girl “.  We both have been dancing all of our lives. We both like to learn different styles and fuse them in a way that the essence of both the styles is still felt individually yet display a unique amalgamation. Blending the foundations of various styles is what LAASYA is all about.

Q – What courses does Laasya school of Belly dance offer ?

Fusion is an evolving process.  It’s never complete or fully explored and evolves a lot within itself too…As time progresses, LAASYA will continue to fuse various styles with belly dance.  Apart from the basic foundations of Egyptian belly dance we have been working on –

  • Tribal Fusion
  • Desi Fusion / Bolly- belly
  • Odissi- belly
  • Belly- natyam
  • Urban Tribal Fusion
  • Latin Fusion
  • Bhangda Belly
  • Lavani Belly
  • YogNritya
  • Power Belly Fitness

Q – Do other dance pioneers agree to this fusion ?

Aakriti – Dance is like a deep ocean. We can keep trying to find the ocean bed but never know at what depth would it be found at. We travel internationally to learn and keep ourselves updated with the new techniques and styles. Just like us, everyone else seems to be on similar journey of discovering a language that belly dance can be co-joint with their own local/pioneered/modern dance forms. So why not us?Though  creativity in art is subjective we still believe fusion is a level to be attempted when both styles have been studied in-depth. Saying that, it’s always going to be a learning process for both of us. And unless we feel we have invested ourselves in it completely, we do not bring it forward as a topic.

Shanelle – There’s nothing wrong with keeping it straight, and there’s nothing wrong with fusing if it’s done right, and brought to the right venue. We strongly believe that tradition and innovation must co-exist in order for any art to survive.

Q – How can one start their training in Belly dance? Do you need to know dance in prior? How many years before one could be proficient in it ?

Your foundation is your stepping stone towards a good dance future. Hence, it is essential to find a good teacher. As a student it is your job get your basics strong and to practise. Be a good learner to become a good teacher/performer.

 LAASYA plans to keep spreading the belly dance culture and the study of infusion in India and abroad.

LAASYA currently has its centres throughout Kolkata and Mumbai. Aakriti and Shanelle travel nationally and internationally to perform and conduct workshops.

For bookings and enquiries, email laasyabellydance@gmail.com

 To know more about Laasya : 

Website : www.laasya.webnode.com

​Facebook :https://www.facebook.com/laasyabellydance/

Youtube- Aakriti Prasad

Instagram- laasyabellydance / aki.artist

 

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