Belly dancer Sabrina Vun says the dance is more than what society thinks. A cultural dance from the Middle East, the dance instructor shares how belly dance can be beneficial to all age groups as it is a graceful dance.
Belly dancing can benefit all
There are not many belly dancers in Sarawak. Because of our conservative community, the dance is often seen as provocative. Sharing on this, belly dance instructor Sabrina Vun opines that the dance is actually the contrary.
“Sometimes people do tend to look at me differently, especially when I dress up and dance. People will have this mentality that I am doing an exotic dance. This is all because of my dressing,” said Sabrina, adding the costume of a belly dancer is a bra top and a skirt with splits.
However, she explained that belly dancing was more than its negative perception. “It is a cultural dance that originates from the Middle East countries. And to me, its movements are very graceful.”
Starting belly dancing in 2011, the 40-year-old shared that she opted to learn because she has fallen in love with their routine during a performance. “I do not even know belly dancing exists until I saw performances by a group of students in Perak.”
Ambitious to learn the dance technique, the mother of three approached the instructor. Since then, she had performed at many concerts and had gone for numerous competitions.
However, learning to dance was never on her mind. As a child growing up in Kuching, Sarawak, Sabrina confined the unknown passion only within the walls of her room. “My parents were kind of strict, and they did not encourage dancing. Furthermore, they were so busy to send me to classes.
But, I loved dancing and music as a child. Sometimes at home, inside my room, where nobody was watching, I would just play some songs and dance,” she disclosed.
Recalling the initial days learning how to belly dance, Sabrina remembered her body being stiff and awkward when dancing. “I was not good; I could not move my arms properly. I was like a robot or a dancing stick!”
Nonetheless, perseverance moved her to be better. “I keep on practising when I have the time. Since my time is limited, I would usually practise when my children are in tuition.
“I always push myself to join competitions. As I participate, I tend to practise harder. From there, I improve a lot. When I go to competitions, I know how good I am, where I stand, and that is how I have improved too.”
When asked how she managed to dance beautifully, Sabrina answered that “practice makes perfect”.
“As time passes by, and you keep on doing the same movement. Your body tends to loosen up your joints to be able to dance gracefully,” she explained.
Attending belly dance workshops from international masters in Malaysia also helps her gained knowledge on the dance, as well as improves her dance techniques and styles.
Exercising on a different level
Among the reason why Sabrina opted for belly dancing was that the dance medium was considered a form of working out too. “We do not jump, and we use more inner muscle or muscle strength to dance. I find that it tones my belly muscles.
“Furthermore, belly dancing has helped me to straighten my body posture as well. I used to hunch before I started dancing, and now I finf that I sit up more straight too. I also feel confident with myself,” she said.
Speaking more on the benefits of belly dancing, Sabrina shared that with belly dancing, dancers over time learned to control their muscle movement especially with the dance technique of tummy fluttering.
“It looks easy, but it is not as we have to learn to isolate our upper body and lower body movements. Aside from hips, we also need to control our pelvic bones and area muscles and our chest too.”
The only qualms that stop her from dancing at the moment, she revealed was her knee structure being inward. “There are certain movements I could not do such as squatting and getting up due to my right knee. Hence, if I do not handle myself properly, I would get hurt.”
To overcome the issue, Sabrina complements belly dancing by doing yoga. She disclosed that stretching movements in yoga had helped her a lot in the last two years. “It helped me by releasing the muscle tension in my knee thus, the problem became milder compared to before.”
While every individual has their own set of limitations, the Legendary Vibes dance instructor said that belly dancing does not choose its learners. “I have students as old as 60 and above still dancing. There is even a category at competitions for senior citizens. You can even belly dance while being pregnant!”
Nonetheless, an enthusiast of the dance movement, Sabrina does not see herself stopping belly dancing any time soon.
“I am going to dance until my body cannot take it. When is that? I am not sure.”