- Title: SOUTH AFRICA: GRANDMOTHER TEACHES BELLY DANCING
- Date: 13th October 2004
- Summary: VARIOUS OF MORE OF WOMEN DANCING VARIOUS OF SHALIMAR DANCING AND DEMONSTRATING TO HER CLASS
- Embargoed: 28th October 2004 13:00
- Location: JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA
- Country: South Africa
- Topics: Entertainment,Quirky,Light / Amusing / Unusual / Quirky
- Reuters ID: LVA9WLCCL6T5UYSASVFY7CU7FVVA
- Story Text: A 59-year-old South African grandmother is the
queen of bellydancing in her country.
It's not the Middle East and Catherine Harrison,
alias Shalimar, is no Arabian temptress.
Neither geography nor culture have prevented Harrison
from becoming a virtuoso in the art of belly dancing -
which she now teaches at her studio in South Africa, where
she is known as the "Grandmother" of Belly dancing.
Harrison taught herself bellydancing from a manual she
found in a second-hand bookstore 30 years ago, a time
when prevailing social attitudes in the apartheid state
made it virtually taboo. Her first public performance in
1976 was monitored by 7 wary policemen.
But she was undeterred and went on to become the teacher
of nearly every belly dancer in the country including her
33-year-old daughter Kim, and 4 grand-daughters.
"Shalimar" has never visited the Middle East, seen by
many as the home of belly dancing.
" When I started thirty years ago, the kind of worse
thing that was happened was during the last world war,
millions of soldiers were in the Middle East, and the only
belly dancers they saw were women of the night, who used
the belly dancing art to bring money to themselves from the
soldiers. My father was horrified that I was doing belly
dancing because the stigma of the entertainment side of
belly dancing had been launched and millions of people who
for the first time had travelled into the east, came back
with the idea that belly dancers were prostitutes , I mean
let's face it."
Men are not allowed to watch the classes in her studio.
She says this gives her students the chance to be totally
open as women in a situation where they are not threatened
Shalimar's students range from children as young as 6 to
women of the age of 70. Mothers attend together with their
daughters and some participants even recover from
surgeries. Shalimar says those who had hip replacement
surgery find bellydancing extremely beneficial in the
Shalimar's two grand-daughters, 9-year-old Megan and
7-year-old Shene, also attends her courses. "I like my gran
teaching me, I like the moves and I like the music. I
think I was born to dance," Megan says.
The older students are just as enthusiastic. Brenda
Lemlett, a 23-year-old psychology student says she's become
much more confident since she started dancing. She says the
dance form brought her out of her shell."
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