Ancient Art Of Bellydance
by Raylene Bliss
First published in the Southern Courier 22 June 1999

In it’s purest form, Bellydancing is one of the most beautiful dances in the world and also a great way to keep fit, according to Despina Rosales, who is offering classes at Daceyville. Despina said Oriental Dance or Bellydance as the Western world named it, was originally part of ceremonies to celebrate the birth of a baby and women as mothers. She was immediately drawn to the ancient beauty of its music and movements, though she admits the desire to get into one of the traditional costumes had been spawned years earlier by the television show I Dream of Jeannie.

“I was at a Lebanese restaurant and I was awestruck,” she said of her first encounter with a Bellydance performance. Despina was enchanted by the old Arabic music with an ancient mystical sound and amazed at the incredible muscle control of the dancers. “Another thing that struck me about the dance, unlike aerobics and whole gym world, was you did not have to kill yourself to do it,” the former fitness instructor said. “It is very strengthening in terms of muscle endurance, but it's not no pain no gain.”

There are many Oriental Dance studios in Sydney, but Despina’s Academy of Oriental Dance is the only mobile studio. Despina has taken Oriental Dance into the universities, schools and kindergartens where she is working with children as young as two and adults as old as 70. “This ancient art is becoming very popular among women in many Western countries, including Australia, for various reasons,” she said. “It keeps you fit, centred, teaches excellent posture and develops strong muscles. It can also ease back and menstrual pain and helps to prepare a woman’s muscles for childbirth.”

Despina has studied Oriental Dance for eight years and has seen, through Oriental Dance, women who have learnt to appreciate their bodies and what shape they are. “The more women can appreciate themselves, the stronger their self-confidence becomes and the more likely they are to succeed both with career and relationships,” she said.

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The Ancient Art Of Bellydancing
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Adopt a homeless animal instead - they all deserve a second chance

It's estimated that 130,000 dogs and 60,000 cats are killed every year in Australia because there are not enough homes for them all. And the global numbers amount to millions upon millions every single year.

Puppy mills are a major contributor to the terrible problem of overpopulation. Puppy mills are essentially 'dog factories' where dogs are forced to churn out litter after litter, with no thought for the welfare of the dogs and all thought for profit. The dogs live in appallingly dirty, cramped conditions all their lives, and when they no longer serve their purpose they're killed, dumped or sold to vivisection laboratories.

Petshops fit into the picture because puppy mills are generally where petshops get their animals from. Furthermore, having animals in shop windows encourages impulse purchases, and adding an animal to your family should be a conscious, careful decision - NOT one to be made while shoe shopping.

Breeders contribute enormously to the tragic statistics above too. And it doesn't matter whether they're professional breeders or backyard breeders, and whether they breed for profit or not, because while there are homeless animals sitting on death row in shelters, any and all animal breeding is utterly irresponsible.

Now, here's where you come in. You can either be part of the problem or part of the solution. You can either buy animals from puppy mills, petshops or breeders and be part of the problem. Or you can adopt from a shelter or rescue organisation and be part of the solution.

If I haven't convinced you, visit your local shelter to see the homeless animals. Let their innocent faces convince you that adopting is the only responsible choice to make.

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