15 year milestone: belly dancers celebrate
GLADSTONE mums Melanie Achilles and Leanne Tudman have been good friends for 10 years thanks to a community belly dancing group.
Mrs Achilles, 44, founded Veils of Arabia dancing classes 15 years ago.
The dance group has performed at charity events, the Belly Dance Extravaganza in Brisbane, and even met Dick Smith a few years ago.
"It gets me out and gets me talking to people and socialising," Ms Tudman said.
"We get to meet heaps of new people when we do performances and things like that and help people raise money for worthy causes."
Ms Tudman said she enjoyed getting dressed up in hand-made performance costumes and meeting new people.
"We taught each other sewing, so we make our own costumes now as well," she said.
"We get together, create things, have fun and teach younger girls how to sew as well."
Ms Tudman said the group included women from all walks of life.
"We have all sorts of ladies in our classes, people who are homemakers, people who work shifts, chiropractors, teachers, all sorts," she said.
"People come for the social and the fitness aspect. But they also come because they want to move their body."
Mrs Achilles said the classes suited people who didn't want to do a heavy gym or aerobic workout to get fit.
"Belly dancing is for all women regardless of age, size and fitness level," she said.
"You can be in your late 60s and early 70s and start classes. You can be young, a child, you can dance through pregnancy as well."
Mrs Achilles performed through two pregnancies and said she enjoyed the experience.
Fire twirler Emma Allen, 22, who recently joined the group, said she loved the varied dance moves of the exotic art form.
"We'll do Egyptian, Spanish or Bollywood and they all share the same moves but you see how they all fit in differently," she said.