For the last decade, Gabriella Bache has faithfully made the weekly trek from Sylvan Lake to Rimbey to teach students belly dancing, a graceful, ancient dance form which has, for centuries, held a mysterious, sensuous appeal.
Bache had been teaching belly dancing in Sylvan Lake for about a year when she decided to expand her classes to Rimbey. She also teaches in Ponoka.
Belly dancing is a form of dance that allows women to express themselves, she said.
“It helps women get in touch with their own inner beauty. You don’t need a partner, you just dance. Everyone does it differently.”
Bache first became interested in belly dancing several years ago while she was still living in Germany.
“I saw an ad in the newspaper and I just knew it was for me,” she said. “Before that, I played soccer, but I found learning belly dancing was very natural for me.”
Over the years she took several workshops from a number of instructors, gradually perfecting her skill.
However, it would be six years after moving to Sylvan Lake from Germany with her husband and three children before she began teaching the dance, herself. But once she got started there was no holding back and she was amazed at how quickly her classes caught on.
Belly dancing, a form of dance first practiced by women in ancient Egypt, has many benefits, she said.
“It tones all your muscles and helps you get in shape while you are having fun.”
Belly dancing also gives women a chance to forget about all their worries and stresses of the day and relax and flow with the music.
“It is good for your body and soul. When you come to class you can leave everything behind.”
Age is irrelevant for anyone who wants to learn to belly dance, she said.
Right now my youngest pupil is six and my oldest is 66, but I have had ladies as old as 80 plus, participate. It really doesn’t matter.”
No matter what size a woman is or what level of skill she possesses, belly dancing is a fun, expressive way to release tension, get some exercise, and feel beautiful in the process, said Bache.
The amiable, soft-spoken teacher said she loves what she does.
“I give lots of my time to my students, but when I see changes in how they feel and think about themselves, it is wonderful. It makes me very happy.”
Bache’s love of belly dancing and her skill as a teacher has been passed onto her 20-year-old daughter Julia who teaches classes to young ladies beginning at the age of six.
Because belly dancing is a women’s form of dancing to be celebrated by women, Bache organizes an all-women’s celebration called a hafla for her students.
“It’s a party complete with a Greek dinner and deserts. Everyone comes and has a good time,” she said.
Belly dancing classes begin in Rimbey on Oct. 30 and run from 7 to 8 p.m. in the Rimbey Community Centre.