dance Hungarian belly dancer Bea Toth says it's not just about shaking your belly. You need to understand the spirit of the dance
B ea Toth, who learned karate for eight years, was disappointed when she learned she did not have the muscle to compete. In an effort to build her body she started gymming, and as fate would have it, it was there that she found belly dancing.
“I was consumed by the beat of the music and the rhythms of the body.” It was around the same time that Bea was advised by a doctor to take up some form of dance to help her with some complications. After watching the two women in the gym, Bea had made her decision.
“When I started off I was not thinking about going professional,” says the Hungarian who was in the city for a belly dancing workshop. “In Hungary, when I started learning the dance in 2001 there were only three dance schools, and these were just for fitness or fun, they were not serious,” she says. But Bea worked hard at the dance school and independently finally started competing.
Although Bea was winning competitions, she had no understanding of what she was doing, “Belly dancing is about rhythm, feeling, passion, movement and technique. People who were well-versed with the dance could see that I did not know what I was doing.”
“Dance in Egypt is similar to that in India. There are so many different regions and they all have different forms of dance that are indigenous to that region,” explains Bea who is aware of the different dance forms in India.
She explains that the people near the sea sang about different things and used more fluid movements; in another region they emphasise the movement of the hip and in another region they use their hands a lot more.”
Bea went to Cairo in 2005 to master the dance; she is still learning under the tutelage of Madam Raqia Hassan who christened her and gave her the stage name Amaraya, which means the female moon.
“There are so many secrets in belly dance, and to discover the dance you need to have a good teacher.” Bea however has incorporated the dance and given it her own style, by taking different elements of belly dancing from different regions.
When Bea wants a break from belly dancing, she hits the salsa clubs in Hungary. “Belly dancing is done alone, and to switch my mind off of it, I go to the salsa clubs.”
Bea has made a special CD with drummer Abdo Manssour with the basic Arabic rhythms. She has also launched a DVD with a special belly dance learning technique with these Arabic rhythms.
Teaching at the workshop in Bangalore, Bea discovered that the people here are very open minded.
“This is not just a dance; it is a way of thinking. Besides they had a very good sense of rhythm and they understood what I was trying to explain about feeling the rhythm. Belly dancing is not difficult. You just need to understand the spirit of the dance.”
CATHERINE RHEA ROY