Endeavour Hills is the place to learn how to bellydance!

Tucked away under the YMCA Leisure Centre (and next to the Library and Shopping Centre) is the Endeavour Hills Neighbourhood Centre at 10 Raymond MacMahon Boulevard. This Centre has been running since 1980 and is a part of the City of Casey Council Community Centres. They are a great place for the local community to meet, get support in English, computers, and crafts, as well as provide a huge variety of classes, one of which is belly dance! Charni has been running bellydance classes from the Endeavour Hills Neighbourhood centre since 2008 through Happy Hips Belly Dance, with hundreds of women (and a few men!) having had the chance to explore this fun way of moving. With students coming from all areas such as Dandenong, Noble Park, Hallam, Narre Warren, Berwick, Belgrave, Springvale and even Cranbourne and Pakenham to experience the fun and welcoming environment that Charni provides. It is exciting and sometimes a little scary to start something new, so be kind to yourself, be brave and do what you’ve always wanted to do – bellydance. Leave life at the door, come in and have a shimmy, you deserve some “me time”.

Click this link to show you where the Endeavour Hills Neighbourhood Centre is located.

Happy Hips Bellydance students performing a veil dance at the Dandenong Show November 2016

Happy Hips Bellydance students performing a veil dance at the Dandenong Show November 2016

The Joy of Teaching Belly Dance

As classes came to an end this term (term 1 2012) one of my students said something which made me realise that I have now been officially teaching belly dance for 9 years! Charni & her Happy Hips Belly Dance studentsTime flies when you are having fun! It got me thinking about how I came to belly dance and then teach.

I started belly dancing when I was all of 19 years old back in 1995 (you do the math!). The University I was attending in Adelaide held a short course and as I have an ‘unfashionable’ 1950’s figure of slim upper body, tiny waist, and curvy hips, I thought “with my hips, why not?” so I did. Did it all come naturally to me when I first started? Definitely not! There was a BIG learning curve involved, largely in using my hands, arms and stomach. But I found that I did have a natural ability moving my hips and isolating my upper from lower body. This was a good start! In fact I found through learning how to move my hips, I was able to have a better general posture.

Through hard work, practice and study, and getting help from different teachers, over the years I was gradually able to work on the not so easy parts and become comfortable with them. Funnily enough, it was through this struggle that I learnt how to teach. There were some moves that were only demonstrated and not explained. So I looked at how to break these down into simple steps, building up into the faster more complicated version. When I was given the honour of choreographing several dance sequences for a show (“The Desert Song”with the Marie Clarke Singers of Tea Tree Gully), I needed to be able explain what I was doing with my body to the group of dancers needing to learn. To my surprise, they really loved the way I explained the moves and broke it down, at the same time giving them encouragement and confidence in their ability.

That wonderful troupe of dancers gave me the confidence needed to start my own belly dance school. I had moved interstate to Melbourne, so after seeking advice and training from physiotherapists on correct warm ups, cool downs and alternative moves for injuries or arthritic joints, I did exactly that! The result is as you know it: www.happyhipsbellydance.com

Many, many years later, I feel extremely privileged to have had the chance to share my passion and joy with others. I love the look on a person’s face when they can do a move they never thought they could! And I especially love the increasing confidence shown in women expressing how the female form is beautiful in all its shapes, curves and wobbly bits!

Last year I also took bellydance to the world by firstly giving free belly dance eClasses and offering a chance in How to Learn Belly Dance Online, so now I am teaching people all around the world! I love it!

Thanks to all those wonderful women who have made it possible for me to call myself a “teacher”.

“You are a wonderful teacher with a beautiful, inclusive manner (not to mention a wonderful dancer)!”
Cheers – Leanne from Belgrave

Casey Kids Carnival was fun today!

Today I had the privilege to be a part of the Casey Kids Carnival, which is a yearly event held by the City of Casey Council.

I had to apply like all performers, and based it on my kids party formula; teach the kids some moves, and they learn a bit about belly dance (or Raqs Sharqi) and Egypt at the same time!

Special thanks go to Sally Bowyer for her help today with the Casey Kids Carnival, we showed a gaggle of kids how to shimmy (and played shimmy freeze), they learnt all about the animals of Egypt, and how the river floods (using a veil). They then watched me perform a double veil dance (always interesting on a windy day!).

We enjoyed doing it and had great feedback from the audience and organisers. I then got the spend the rest of the day enjoying what else there was to offer – oh and my kids did too!

I would also like to pass on my congratulations to the organising staff, they were very communicative, informative and on top of all the details every step of the way. The staff on the day was helpful, accommodating and helped me look good!

Charni and Sally (and Jamie) of Happy Hips Belly Dance after performing at the Casey Kids Carnival 2012