• Annmarie Throckmorton, M.A.

Belly Dancing Legal Eagle

My friend Marie Charvat would be 72 now, we met long ago at an introductory swordplay class at the university. She was an attorney for the State of Ohio and I liked her instantly, her intelligence, her warm eyes, her ready laugh, and her amazing athletic abilities. I was not enjoying the swordplay class, and during a lull Marie showed me how she could "dance" a sword from her head to her belly and then along her outstretched arm to grasp it with a flourish. Wow! In the subsequent years that we were friends, we went to a couple of public belly dance presentations, and once the troupe invited her to dance with them. She went onto the dance floor for a few graceful steps to say hello, but because she was an attorney in state government at the time she demurred to dance longer. Marie was a good friend. She helped me in many ways, and she bought several pieces of my artwork. It always gave me a thrill to see my large, expressive artwork hanging in her home.

Belly dance is a very feminine way of dancing that I wanted to know more about. I was young, healthy, and had the long, swept-back hair for it, so I took some belly dance lessons at the home of a local belly dance troupe leader in the suburbs. I was the only student in a dance troupe of about seven belly dancers, and surprisingly the lessons were free. But after half a dozen lessons, I learned that the lessons was contingent upon my joining the troupe for public performances. I too worked in state government at the time, reporting directly to a state senator, and I felt that I could not put myself on that sort of display, even though their offer to make costumes for me was interesting. The troupe leader showed me her sewing room with swaths of shimmering, gossamer fabric and ribbons of tinkling bells and twinkling trinkets. She said that she would make beautiful costumes for me, each hiding any defects I might have, padding my bust, swirling over my thighs, and slitting the cloth to reveal my assets of trim ankles, narrow waist, tapered back, toned shoulders, and fluid arms. In my last class, before they had explained how fully I would be required to participate, I had been happily gyrating around with the other girls to the exotic music, when suddenly the previously unseen lead belly dancer's husband emerged from behind a curtain and want me to dance with a sword on my head, while he danced it off of me. Nope, that was not going to happen, especially not in public. My belly dancing days were done.

Caption: Marie Charvat

legal eagle circa 1990

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