There is a new adult dance class in Bethel. Kristie Liotta, owner of Birth Circle, holds "Mothering the Mother" and "Mommy Shimmy with Me" belly dancing classes that cater to the emotional and physical well-being of women, including those who may be pregnant and post-natal.
"It is nice to bring Moms together," Liotta said. "Women came together to dance, to prepare their bodies, and support one another in labor. Early cultures believed that a woman's ability to bring forth life was sacred and these dances were an extension of that belief."
Liotta supplies colorful scarves, jingling with elaborate, gold, coin-shaped decorations, which the students tie around their body. Larger scarves are held high and waved during one of the dance techniques. A selection of Middle Eastern and modern dance music adds to the experience.
Student Lisa Levi, age 31, from New Milford, is pregnant with her first child, due on the first of October. She started taking ballet at 11 years old, and by 19, she was dancing professionally in New York City. "Belly dancing was a big part of my life on and off for eight years," she said. "I am a dancer by nature."
Levi said she found the Birth Circle classes by doing an online search for childbirth classes. After studing Hebrew and Arabic in Israel for a college semester, Levi got her masters degree in "Middle East Security Conflict Resolution." She laughed and said, "Then I became a first grade teacher."
Right before Levi became pregnant, she taught first graders for a year at the Waldorf School in Newtown, where she jokingly said her conflict resolution skills came in handy with the students.
Student Denia D'Alessandro, 39, from Danbury, is pregnant with her second child, due in mid-December. She said she has known Liotta for 8 years. "I trust her. You can call her at 3 a.m. and she'd be there. She helped me with my first child after she had just given birth herself. She brought all her four kids to help me out," D'Alessandro said.
"Kristie teaches that you have control over things, and she helped me put things in perspective. I get tied down to the science of birthing and Kristie lets me understand that we have much more control," D'Alessandro said.
D'Alessandro did pre-natal yoga at home during a previous pregnancy, and said, "I decided to take the class to have an easier labor and keep a positive mind."
Liotta said, "I support a woman's right to birth as she wants to birth. It's all about the woman and her partner making informed choices, even if sometimes there are not a lot of choices."
Instructor Liotta said, "I teach Middle Eastern Dancing, more commonly known as Belly Dancing. It originates from the Middle East and North Africa, but has spread across the world and can now be found in many cultures, including China, Brazil, and the US. The dance is one of the oldest dances known to us and originated as a form of both social expression, such as folk dancing, and as an expression and aid for female rituals, such as temple dancing."
Her classes guide a woman through the birth journey by using dance techniques that specifically focus on strengthening the body. "Belly Dancing allows a mother to strengthen her changing body and embrace her sensuality," Liotta said.
Besides the physical advantages of dance, Liotta also focuses on emotional well-being as well.
Using a teapot as a symbol of her teaching process, Liotta said, "Mothers have so many people to give to in their life. I truly believe you cannot pour from an empty teapot, meaning, I want my students to fill themselves up with their own pleasure of dancing so that they can give to the ones they love easily and joyfully," Liotta said. "My children bring me great joy, but my personal pleasure of dancing keeps my teapot filled, so I can give to them."
Liotta, 36, is a professional Doula, which is a birth assistant offering one-on-one support throughout the pregnancy, birth and early post-partum period. She helps women and their families sort through the many choices available when it comes to labor and birth. Liotta is also a Psychologist, and mother of 4 children, ages 3, 5, 9 and 11.
"I fell in love with the sensuality and femininity of the art," Liotta said.
Liotta starts her dance class by having each student make an affirmation, from many choices. Some examples are:
"I celebrate being a woman by [fill in blank]."
"I honor the woman that came before me and bless the ones that follow after me. I stand beside all women."
"I am a great granddaughter, a daughter, and a mother."
Student Jamie Carey, age 28, of Naugatuck, CT, is a mom of a 17 month old son. She had previously taken a Birth Circle class in the fall of 2010 and she also taught ballet. "I wanted it to not be hard core when I was pregnant, but more relaxed and meditating," Carey said.
As Liotta was instructing the students during the class she pointed out that arm movements are extremely important, perhaps more important than hip movements, she said. "It has to come from within," Liotta said, regarding the entire spectrum of the dance movements.
The class ended with a few yoga positions, deep breathing, and meditation, to the sound of Kristie's soothing voice.
Classes are held at the Gilleoghan dance studio at 170 Greenwood Avenue in Bethel, CT:
10:00, Mothering the Mother Bellydance
11:15 Bellydance and Labor Preparation for the Pregnant Woman.
9:30 Mothering the Mother Bellydance
11:00 Mommy Shimmy with Me Bellydance
Contact Kristie Liotta of Birth Circle at 203-300-0489 or website www.birth-circle.com for more information.