She greets her students. Doctors, lawyers and housewives, scantily clad in scintillating sequined bras and flowing diaphanous skirts in vibrant colours, are among them. The 50-year-old instructor shows them some moves as they practise for an upcoming recital.
Connors teaches belly dancing at Baladi National Baladi.
A former hairstylist, she began teaching the ancient art of belly dancing eight years ago, captivated by its history and its sensuality. The positive health benefits of dancing don't hurt either.
Connors describes the belly dancing as, “Shear art and poetry in motion.” She loves the discipline. “It is so sensual, so feminine.”
According to Connors, belly dancing originated in Rajasthan, in northern India, and was brought to Egypt by Gypsies, or Ghawazi, where it gained popularity. It was not until the Orientalism movement of the Victorian period that the West's fascination with belly dancing was born.
Besides the physical benefits, belly dance has a psychological benefit as well, Connors said. At first, participants are self-conscious about seeing themselves half-dressed and undulating suggestively in a mirror, but before long, that self-critical self-awareness seems to fall away.
“You open a window within yourself, and it's like you're letting people inside of you, and they're seeing your soul.”