By Bernie Dotson
A glimpse of belly jewelry is revealed as colorful, sheer scarves float across their midriffs. As the flute winds through a scale of notes, the symmetry of the group becomes evident with each rhythmic roll.
It's one of the world's oldest dance forms, used to celebrate the harvest, pay homage to religious occasions and to help prepare the body for childbirth. It's an exercise and entertainment trend that is quickly gaining ground in the Indian Capital.
"People get into belly dancing for a lot of reasons," Leaf Ashley, 35, who teaches the classes once per week in Gallup, said. An Alamosa, Colo., native who lived a long time in Chinle, on the nearby Navajo Nation Indian Reservation, Ashley said of interest in the ancient art form, "Some of its curiosity. People come into it with an open mind. They want exercise and to see what belly dancing is all about."
For more on Native dance, see Tlingit Dancing in Afterschool Class and Cheyenne River Glitter Girls.