Showing Eastern promiseMetro - London,UK, Wednesday, 19 September 2007
I am the poster girl for 'Does mybum look big in this?' I'vealways been incredibly selfconsciousabout the size of myposterior but, since a solid set oflove-handles seems a positive assetwhen it comes to belly dancing,I decided to give it a twirl.So here I am, in the exoticcushion-strewn interior of Kenza –a sumptuous new Moroccanrestaurant in the City – and Tanya,who has 17 years of belly-dancingexperience under her bejewelledbelt, is waiting to put me throughmy paces. She's gorgeous: imagineNicole Scherzinger from PussycatDolls's big sister. But hotter.
Shimmy and shake
As we march off to the changingrooms, Tanya explains the lure ofbelly dancing: 'It lifts your spirits.It's a sensual, feminine dance. Andit keeps you fit.'
She lays out ouroutfits and theyare fabulous:flouncy, flatteringskirts that sit lowon the hips andruthless push-'emup,point-'em-outbras. Tanya lookssensational in herleopard-printensemble: washboard stomach andcleavage up to her ears.
Stepping into my azure number, Ifeel pretty great, too. Tanya smilesapprovingly, then, frowning briefly,says: 'This is a trick I'll share withyou, Jennifer,' before grabbing ahandful of paper towels. Meekly –like a kid having a spit-on-hankyface wash – I stand still as Tanyashoves them down my bra to bulkout my cleavage.
A gasp goes upfrom the crowd as Tanya's boobsleap around in her bra like gazellesbounding across the Serengeti
In the restaurant, to a hypnoticTurkish beat, Tanya teaches me thebasics. There's theshimmy – smallbut incessantshaking of thehips, like sittingon a spin drier; theflick – two sharptwisty flicks of thehip, deliveredfrom the base ofthe spine; and thefigure of eight –hips rolled up, around and down.
It sounds easy but it's really hardgetting the moves right, searchingfor little-used muscles. Then throwin the footwork: two steps forward,two steps back while spinning ina circle… all the while doing twirlythings with your arms. And smiling.
Tanya makes it look effortless:she turns with the languid grace ofa snake gliding across hot sand;I turn like a woman with her skirtcaught in a revolving door. It's fun,though. And Tanya is extremelyencouraging: 'You have such goodhip action, Jennifer.' I smilebroadly at the compliment. 'Andsuch a lovely big bottom.' My smilefalters. 'You will have no need ofthe knickers with the paddedbottom I sometimes have to wear.'
Next door, about 30 staff are ina meeting. Lured by the music,they pull up chairs to watch us. Weprogress to upper-body moves: thewave – a slow ripple of the stomach;and the dart – pulsing the upperbody from side to side as your hipsstay still. The staff are mesmerised.
'This is my party piece,' Tanyawhispers and, throwing her armsout, she squeezes her handstogether. Her breasts start dancing.It's quite a sight, and a gasp goes upfrom the crowd as Tanya's boobsleap around in her bra like gazellesbounding across the Serengeti.
Continuing to squeeze, twirl andleap, she nods encouragingly forme to join in. Caught up in themoment, I throw out my arms andsqueeze my hands together butI lack Tanya's formidable assets.
As we dance, the expression ofthe crowd shifts from awe toawkward. One of them stepsforward – I smile encouragingly,she must want to join in? Instead,she points to the floor and the pileof crumpled tissues that I havebeen systematically pumping out ofmy bra. Oh well, at least I knowmy bum doesn't need the padding.
Kenza opens on September 6.Tel: 020 7929 5533.
Bellydancing Headlines on Your Website: Keep informed! Automatically get the latest belly dancing news headlines on your website with live Belly-Dancing.info news feeds. Customisable and easy to set up!
More performance arts: Magic