HAHNVILLE - Super-fit Kelly McNulty stays that way by belly-dancing for fun and also showing other women how to enjoy the ancient art form in classes at Hahnville High School.
"It's interesting and it's a fun and free-spirited form of dance," says McNulty, who's taught continuing-education classes for St. Charles Parish Schools for the past two years.
"Belly dancing is ancient, and, of course, it comes from the Middle East."
"It's moving from within yourself," she explains.
McNulty has been dancing since she was a toddler of two. She used to compete when she was younger. In addition to belly dancing, she is proficient in ballet, tap and jazz.
"Belly dancing came naturally to me," she says. "I hadn’t taken anything like it before.”
While the average person might think there is just one form of belly dancing, McNulty sets the record straight.
"There are many forms of belly dance," McNulty explains. "The 'tribal' and 'gypsy' styles are the most popular."
There are many techniques and moves to learn, she says.
"Shimmies" is a type of body movement, which McNulty points out "is easier to do than explain."
"Hip bumps" are hip movements and a "body roll" is when you undulate your body from head to toe.
While McNulty says some of her former students took the class so that they could dance for their husbands or boyfriends, most of her students in her class now are doing it for fitness.
"It's a great form of exercise," says McNulty. "It’s an alternative to conventional fitness classes."
Many may hesitate to take a belly-dancing class, and McNulty has advice for people considering the idea: "You have to come in with an open mind."
"Since belly-dancing is an exotic style of dance, I don’t recommend it for children," says McNulty. "I've had girls in high school all the way to senior citizens taking my class."
McNulty says after taking the class, their self-confidence and self-esteem grows and they feel better about themselves.
For more information on the belly dancing classes being offered in the spring, contact St. Charles Parish Public Schools at 985-785-7268.