ad 4 Dhy & Karen
The Gilded Serpent presents...
Act Your Age?
by Karen Andes

Someone recently asked me how old I was and I answered, “Oh my God, I’m almost 50”—as if this was news to me. Well, in a way it is. I just turned 47 but, depending on the day, I feel like I could be four, fifteen, thirty-five or on a soul level of over two thousand years old. Sure, there are days when I feel my full 47 years. First thing in the morning without makeup, I certainly look older. But mostly, I prefer to live in denial about the linear march of time and see myself as frisky and ageless.

Still, lately I’ve been thinking about what it means to be an (ahem!) “aging” belly dancer. When it comes to teaching or dancing for my own pleasure, I enjoy my maturity. But sometimes, dancing near a gorgeous young dancer, I wonder how long I’ll feel comfortable performing. Into my 60’s, 70’s, 80’s? (I’d love to hear other dancers’ thoughts on this subject).

There are a few role models out there—modern dancer Anna Halprin, for one.

I saw her 80th birthday dance concert, in which, for one number, she wore a mask of a young courtesan and revealed her fabulous legs under a short skirt. (You could almost hear the collective minds blowing).

Later she announced she was planning a 100th birthday dance concert—when she’d “finally understand something about dance.”

I’m not even close to having Anna Halprin’s insights about dance, but I do know that time has deepened my love of dancing. I seem to have grown a new appreciation for the subtle internal realm of the dance—and I’m just as excited about polishing my technique.

I’m relieved that I no longer feel compelled to impress an audience with flashy moves like I once did in ballet, modern and jazz. No more splits or high kicks; my knees rebel when I do floor work. So, arms, hands, heart and facial expression have taken on a deeper significance.

It seems that foundations of all kinds have become important, too.

The core muscles create a foundation of strength in a dancer’s body. In my classes I emphasize the importance of connecting all moves to the core and anchoring the shoulders, so the arms seem to lift from deep in the back. Whatever dynamic control we don’t get from dance, we can supplement with Pilates, yoga and strength training.

As for the foundation I put on my face, I’ve recently switched to ground-up mineral pigments made by Bare Essentials or Amazing Base by Jane Iredale—because the old fashioned kind of foundation creates deep crevices of my wrinkles! The pigments supply great coverage, look youthful and they’re good for skin!

Middle age seems to be the age when eyebrows decide to grow inwards and grow out of the chin! So I must etch them on, but it’s a constant battle not to look like Joan Crawford or Groucho Marx. And, when I dance, the makeup sweats off anyway. I’ve found a nice and flattering alternative—wearing those colorful stick-on face jewels in arcs above the brows. Perhaps one day I’ll have the resources to get them tattooed on – plus a nip, tuck and laser here and there but it ain’t happening now….

Ah, food. The mature body is less forgiving of “being bad.” I seem to dance best on high alkaline, low acidic foods--salads, green drinks, low glycemic-index fruits like apples, bananas, papaya, some carbs and clean animal protein (especially fish). (And of course I stay away from cigarettes, alcohol, drugs and too much sugar and caffeine). But I always leave room for an excellent piece of chocolate!

Lately I’ve been doing an overhaul on my beliefs, thought patterns, assumptions and mental habits. Learning new skills trains the brain to keep creating new neurological pathways—the opposite of “hardening of the attitude.”

I need more rest. I can’t work or play into a frazzle anymore. Oh, how I love those empty white spaces on my calendar!

It’s wonderful to come into one’s own as a dancer and we’re blessed that Middle Eastern dance celebrates women of stature. But I realize that if I were to perform without handling these vanity issues, people wouldn’t be able to focus on my dancing. One thing I’ve learned with time and experience is that I’ll do all kinds of things to keep experiencing the joy that is this dance!

Have a comment? Send us a letter!
Check the "Letters to the Editor" for other possible viewpoints!

Ready for More?
More about Karen-
10-24-01 Karen Andes: World Dancer By Jawahare
Karen Andes has cooked up a unique fusion of eastern and western movement that that provides rich nourishment for the minds, bodies and spirits of women.

4-14-03 Why Belly Dancers are Natural Snowboarders by Lauren Traub
OK, it sounds strange. But If you’ve enjoyed dancing Oriental you probably already have a lot of the skills needed to snowboard.

3-13-03 God Belly Danced: Biblical Accounts of belly dance in the ancient Near East, Part II, By Qan-Tuppim (DeAnna Putnam)
According to the Hebrew scriptures, female belly dancers were reputable and marriageable

3-12-03 Belly Dancer of the Universe Competition 2003 Photo Report by Lynette
Sponsored by Tonya & Atlantis and held in Long Beach, California. Finalists are expected to be able to improvise spontanious choreography!

3-9-03 The Joy (and Pain) of Collecting Tips by Sandra
I've been collecting tips for almost 10 years now, and it's only in the last 2 or 3 years that I've really felt confident about it.

creat with

 Gilded Serpent
 Cover page, Contents, Calendar Comics Bazaar About Us Letters to the Editor Ad Guidelines Submission Guidelines