“Belly dancing is an ever evolving art form, a passion. It’s a female expression of the dance, it puts you back in touch with your femininity and to a lesser degree, your sensuality.”
So says Levona Bredenkamp, owner of the Fariha Belly Dance Studio in George, for whom belly dancing has become a way of life, her true passion.
Although she has a day job, Levona has been belly dancing and competing professionally for years.
She recently competed at a national dance competition that took place in Roodepoort, where she won first prize in the Adult Magnificent Modern Belly Dance (solo) category and was in the top five of the Miss Belly Dance South Africa 2014 category.
Levona says an interesting fact about belly dancing is that the characteristic bells used by belly dancers are actually used by students, to help them count and check if they are executing the movements correctly.
“Belly dancing requires a lot of internal muscle usage, and great health and muscle tone benefits can only be experienced if you practice daily and eat well. It also depends on how great a passion it becomes,” she says.
Levona says almost anyone can do belly dancing, and women are never too young or old to start. “You are never ‘too’ to belly dance. You don’t need to be a dancer, but you must have some rhythm and must adapt your posture for belly dancing.
“It’s stomach in and chest out ladies,” she says jokingly.
“I can see the transformation in some of my students. With the first class they pitch up in baggy clothes and hair all tied up. As the weeks go by, they come dressed in fitted gym attire and flowy/loose hair,” says Levona.
“Belly dancing definitely helps to bring out a woman’s sensuality and it builds up one’s confidence. We are wives, mothers and we work, and we tend sometimes to forget that we are women, sensual beings,” she says.
Levona started belly dancing in 2006 after she read an article in a local newspaper. “It was a really interesting article. I then started belly dancing lessons with a friend as a spur-of-the-moment thing and out of sheer boredom, but it soon gripped me and became my passion,” she says.
She says her biggest fan is her husband, Dermot Scott, who supports her 120%. They have been together for the past 19 years and married for the past seven years. “He was the one who suggested the idea and who encouraged me to start my own belly dancing school (in 2012) here in George.”
According to Levona, her costumes are both spectacular and special. “The costumes are fun. You have to wear them if you want to compete professionally. My costumes are professional and couture. Some were bought and some I had made, but I have recently started to make my own costumes.”
She aims to regularly participate in national competitions to take as criterion to measure her own standards by. “In George we are isolated from the rest of the belly dancing world. I take from the experience and feedback I get at these competitions and again apply it to my belly dancing teachings,” she says.
Various belly dancing clubs along the Garden Route joined hands recently to celebrate International Belly Dancing Day at the George Civic Centre in aid of charity. The programme included belly dancing, as well as various other performances by ballet dancers, Latin groups and singers. All proceeds will be donated to the Phambili Shelter for abused women and children.