ANDERS0N — Hands wind almost snake-like toward the ceiling as hips circle. Shoulders shimmy, and the sound of gentle jingling spills over the subtly alluring music. It’s sensual, graceful, intriguing: belly dancing.
Blonde, bright-eyed Tatiana Smith leads the dance and reminds her dancers to concentrate on the motions of the belly dance: hip circles, pelvic circles, chest circles.
“It’s like a conversation between a man and a woman,” Smith says as everyone follows. They pull their sheer, colorful veils up as they turn. “So, we’re flirting, just like that.”
It all looks and sounds elegantly exotic. It seems to transport both dancers and watchers to some other world, but it’s Anderson, Indiana where Tatiana teaches belly dancing.
“For women, this is absolutely great – it’s almost our nature,” says Tatiana.
Ballet to belly dancing
Tatiana starts each class with ten minutes of ballet moves. Ballet is fundamental to Tatiana who first learned it in her native Russia. She coaches her students in a gentle, lilting voice, still heavily accented from her homeland. As she speaks and moves, watching herself and her students in the wall mirror, she is ever smiling. It’s a smile that reaches her eyes, and flows through her graceful movements.
“She's a good teacher,” said student Tammy Barker. She’s been coming to Tatiana’s studio for two years. Barker and other students walk in the door, take off their shoes and replace them with ballet slippers. Each one dons a hip scarf adorned with numerous coins.
Barker gives her hips a shake, and the coins jingle. She started out studying yoga with Tatiana, then joined the belly dancing class.
“I’ve always wanted to do it. It’s kind of exotic. It’s fun. It’s good exercise,” said Barker. She also noted, "It's beautiful."