Fitness Edge

SharQui – the Bellydance Workout at Dallas MANIA
Celebrate your body while breaking a sweat with this hot new fitness trend that is changing the way we move!
By Lucie Spencer-Murray

When you’re preparing for this year’s Dallas MANIA, remember to pack your hip scarf and make sure you sign up for SharQui-the Bellydance Workout, the group fitness class that combines the exotic art of belly dance with a high-intensity cardiovascular and toning workout.

SharQui was developed by champion dancer and fitness professional Oreet, who holds multiple titles in belly dance including Belly Dancer of the Year 2007 and Reigning Middle Eastern Dance Champion of North America. In the 1990s, the New York-based instructor grew frustrated with trendy dance-fitness classes that she felt lacked intensity and produced limited results. She was determined to offer a class that would provide a challenging workout while bringing a sense of fun to the fitness studio. She drew on her performing arts background, her Middle Eastern roots and the feedback of her students. What resulted was SharQui.

SharQui is an alternative to the traditional model of teaching belly dance through imitation. According to Oreet, non-dancers are more prone to injury when learning unfamiliar moves through imitation. SharQui focuses, instead, on the building blocks of belly dance, teaching students to understand where certain movements should originate and how to perform those movements safely. From Snake Arms to Undulations, each dance step is broken down to its most basic elements. This low-impact workout uses the whole body and is described as an anatomical approach to belly dance.

Anyone can shake it up with SharQui. Experienced dancers will enjoy the dynamic, rhythmic class that barely stops forbreath. Those with knee or back trouble can enjoy SharQui because the low-impact, organic movements open up the hips and loosen the lower back. SharQui’s creator says that it is far from a traditional dance class and that beginners should leave their inhibitions at the door and get ready to embrace this body-loving workout that is more about how you feel than how you look.

The workout has drummed up a significant following in New York and its popularity is spreading to other cities. It has been featured in magazines and newspapers across the country including Prevention, Lifetime and Modern Bride, as well as television shows like ABC’s Eyewitness News and NBC’s Saturday Today Show. With hopes of expanding into a broader market, Oreet now offers an 18-hour certification program for those interested in becoming instructors-it is the only belly dance course accredited by AFFA and ACE. Oreet has also recently launched a new workout called Belly Blast by SharQui that incorporates weighted waist-belts. It premiered in New York this year and Oreet hopes to release a DVD in the future.

Belly dancing has a long history dating back over 3,000 years. It is believed to have started as a fertility ritual for women by women -lessons passed down to younger generations in the form of dance. It was not, as is generally thought, a provocative dance for the entertainment of men, but a type of storytelling that intertwines patterns of isolated movements to weave a cohesive story. It is performed barefoot, symbolizing the connection between the dancer and the earth. The authentic Arabic name, “raks al-sharqi” translates to “dance of the East” and is where SharQui

Meet Oreet and check out a SharQui class at Dallas MANIA!
FR2C SharQui: The Bellydance Workout: LEVEL 1 Friday, 10:30am-12:00pm
SU3B SharQui: The Bellydance Workout: LEVEL 2 Sunday, 11:15am-12:45pm

No special equipment is required to attend her class, not even shoes, though participants are encouraged to bring an open mind, a whole lot of energy, and their favorite hip scarves. Don’t worry if you don’t have one, Oreet will be selling her clothing line along with her DVD at the expo.

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