Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

BELLY DANCE Classes Explore Variations on Ancient Gyrations at West Side Studio

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

BELLY DANCE Classes Explore Variations on Ancient Gyrations at West Side Studio

Article excerpt

cthomas@cnpapers.com 304-348-1232

On a recent, sun-dappled summer evening on Charleston's West Side, several women were practicing intricate, high-spirited "navel maneuvers in an upstairs studio of the Academy of Arts at January's. Susan Hughart was leading another weekly session of belly dancing at the Tennessee Avenue studios. For more than a year, she has instructed classes at the academy, one for beginners and one for more advanced "troupe dancers. The summer session is winding down this month, but fall classes will resume at the academy on Tuesday, Sept. 6.

Hughart chose belly dancing as a way to keep her own abs trim after shedding more than 100 pounds, she said.

"With the help of my doctor, I had lost 103 pounds, the Big Chimney native explained, "and he was really insisting that I find some sort of physical activity that I enjoyed so that I could keep the weight off.

"I saw a dancer perform on the street in Charleston many years ago, and she was so incredibly fit. I had danced up until I was 14, so I decided it was time to revisit dance.

Approximately 12 years ago, Hughart enrolled in a pair of dance classes locally, including a belly dance class. "I just completely fell in love with it, she said.

"When my teacher moved out West to further her career, she continued, "I was thrown into teaching her remaining students. That's when I found my mentor, Sherena of Ohio. She's been helping me become a better dancer and teacher for probably seven years. I've earned her level-3 HipCurve teacher certification.

She said her classes at January's consist of about eight "hard- core diehards as well as a few "drop-ins each Tuesday evening.

One of those regulars for more than 10 years, Karla Stull, of Alum Creek, said the belly dance classes offer a great deal of camaraderie and support.

"And there's lots of laughter, she noted.

Connie Breck, of Hurricane, has been taking belly dance classes for eight years with Hughart and other teachers, as well. She said there might be some initial shyness for participants learning the moves, but "our costumes are not really revealing. …

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