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Veil Dropping In Merida

My first attempt at belly dancing class – in which, I chucked a U-ie on the Circuito Colonias where, apparently a U-ie ought not be chucked, and subsequently talked myself out of a ticket and ergo was escorted with lights flashing to a dance studio in the neighborhood of, but not precisely where class was being held – was interesting, if not exactly aerobic. My second attempt was much more successful if somewhat less dramatic.

The class was small. The teacher, one student and her small daughter were already practicing when I arrived minutes after eight and only slightly sweaty. Manisha Elizabeth is an exquisite belly dancer and beauty. Her movements are precise, subtle, almost staccato, and accented by the silver chimes of the coins she wears on a wrap around her hips. Without interrupting her serpentine movement she sorted and sized me while I took my place behind the others.

The space was sparse and lit with incense. We moved all together – arms, wrists, fingers, elbows, shoulders, hips, toes, thighs, feet – without much instruction. Manisha directed us but made the didactic feel organic, as if we had collectively and spontaneously choreographed the dance. It is a chthonic and not a learned activity; my teacher explained that as women we possess this way of dancing, we know how already and are merely remembering, with her as guide.

Virgil/Dante-Beatrice/Inanna, the first god to go underground, face demons, including her Other Self and return a hero for the sake of humanity. I pretended to be Salome. I smirked about Can o´ Beans and Dirty Sock which brought me back to the mirror and my movement because I am working on focus and being present in the moment and my body so that I stop dropping glasses and being so clumsy. This is a kind of grace I can achieve. Belly Dancing takes practice. Next Tuesday I will try again.

Manisha Elizabeth teaches belly dancing on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Friday mornings in a pink house on Calle 9 between the Circuito and Calle 40 in Pensiones. The cost of 8 classes is $ 280 pesos. Bring a towel and a bottle of water. Introspection not required. But a map does help.

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