Hooked on Belly dancing? You'll be addicted to MERASH the dance craze everyone's raving about
We all want to dance like the sexy Shakira, and the tremendous popularity of belly dancing in both the Middle East and around the world is proof of just how fascinated we are with the charming oriental dance. But the dance scene is ready for something that takes the hip-shaking further. Dance professional Ghadeer Amiereh combines dancing, fitness and humor in her choreography and has changed the 'face' of belly dancing as we know it.
The Amman-based artist inspired more women than ever before to step into their dance shoes and out of their daily life routines through her one-woman-show. Although she began her journey as a Ping Pong champion in the Middle East and Asia, and then as a physical education teacher in some of Amman's top private schools, Ghadeer soon found her feet in dance and swiftly made the move to instructor and choreographer in just over a decade.
With a number of trophies under her hip-scarf – and piling up on her shelf – she's one of the most sought-after dance professionals in Jordan. But, what makes this accomplished dancer so 'It' just now? If you attend one of her unique belly-aerobics classes – a concept created by Ghadeer, you'll find it difficult not to feel happier, trimmer and fitter by the end of the hour!
Ghadeer had already had the unique concpet of belly-aerobics sweating through her mind for a very long time. However, it was not before scaling some minor hurdles and hoops that she was able to turn her 'small' idea into a 'big' dream. Had she gone the western route and marketed the idea in the West, where 'hip' is hip! she would have been an international hit today.
Mad about MERASH
Thanks to her innovative mind, today this Dancing Queen has evolved her belly-aerobics into a new dance phenomenon that will shake up the globe to empower women in a whole new way. MERASH (Middle East Raqs Aerobics Sharqi) – solely created and patented by Ghadeer - is a new dance craze set to jingle up Jordan and take the region by storm.
What makes it so special? It's a new dance formula:
Belly dancing + Aerobics + Osteoporosis-prevention = MERASH
Through MERASH, not only will women get to seductively shake their hips, but they'll inject aerobics and Osteoporosis-prevention into their dance routines. It's what Osteoporosis specialist Dr. Tarek Khalifeh is calling a medical 'dance revolution.' He says MERASH will “help women prevent the disease while losing weight and having fun.”
Ghadeer Amireh talked to AlBawaba about MERASH and what makes her job special to her.
AlBawaba: How did your dance journey begin and progress?
GA: “Ever since my childhood, I've copied anyone dancing in front of me. As a PE teacher with a BA in Physical Education, a fellow school teacher (and dance instructor) encouraged me to teach belly dancing. The beginning of my journey was a shaky one. I took my first professional dance-training course in 1999, which was a complete shambles.
“The teacher was useless, I didn't benefit from it at all. I felt depressed after the course; it was a waste of time, money and energy. I had my own ambitions in mind and they weren't to teach people to dance that way.
“Not one to give up, I immersed myself in dance history books and videos, learning the art and technique of each style of dancing, but also how and why old tribes and civilizations used to dance. I quickly became a self-taught expert on the history of dance. All I needed then was to put everything I've learnt into practice, then make a name for myself.”
AB: You've become a dance expert in theory, what about in practice?
GA: “Well, I started off by teaching choreography at home, then ran my first ever dance classes twice a week at the Fitness One gym and the Intercontinental Hotel. Back then I only taught the classical art of belly dancing, not the overly-sexual one you see nowadays.
“In 2003, I took a professional dance course in Beirut, where I was taught everything I'd learnt from history books and videos in practice. One training course followed the other, after which I had my two kids, Sima, 13, and Zaid, 8, in Australia.
“In 2006, I was back in Amman and back into the studio. My client list began to build up, and in 2007 I decided to reinvent belly dancing, so I added aerobics to the mix. I'd already had this idea in mind since 2000, but only introduced it to my students that year.
“In 2008 I came up with the concept of MERASH and devised the choreography and business plan for it.”
AB: Tell us more about MERASH.
GA: “MERASH stands for 'Middle East Raqs Aerobics Sharqi.' It's belly-aerobics but with an osteoporosis-prevention power. It involves using weights, which improve bone density, and that's very helpful for preventing osteoporosis. There's nothing like MERASH out there, and it's a dance for real women in the real world. Everyone can benefit from it and relate to it.
“MERASH splits into two types: the 'preventative' dance which involves using weights and is more of a sporty-type, and the one minus the weights, which is more 'dancy,' yet still retains the aerobic-feel to it. I think dance-enthusiasts from all over the Middle East would be into MERASH.”
AB: What separates you from other belly dancing teachers?
GA: “Other teachers only teach oriental dancing. I add aerobics with a hint of Latin loves, salsa and merengue to my choreography. Some teachers may be natural belly dancers, but that's just it: they're dancers, NOT instructors. They're unable to deliver the idea of how to perform each move like I do.
“My classes are distinctive because my moves are easy for anyone to follow. When my students look at me they admire my dance routines, but in many other teachers' classes that's solely what students do: watch, admire and face difficulty learning the moves.”
AB: Tell us what to expect from a typical class with Ghadeer.
GA: “Inside my studio you will only hear Arabic music – classical and modern – remixed with some Dance music beats. The atmosphere is full of energy and it's for people from as young as school kids to 60+-year-olds. I tell all my students to leave their troubles at the door. This hour is totally for her and her alone. I want them to have fun, get fit, lose weight and uplift their souls, all while dancing.”
AB: What's the most challenging and rewarding thing about your job?
GA: “Pleasing everyone of different ages can be challenging; they may not all enjoy the same type of music, but that's why I have a wide variety of it – old and new.
“Thankfully, everyone looks pleased and energized when they're about to go home, and that's what's most rewarding to me. Hearing compliments and positive feedback from my students is also very thrilling.”
AB: Do you have any celebrity clients?
GA: “Yes. I've had TV presenters and Ambassadors' wives take my classes. The French Consul's wife is actually a fan of my classes.”
AB: What are your long-term ambitions as a dancer?
GA: “I'd like worldwide recognition. But I don't want to just be famous, I want to leave my mark on the world through MERASH and know that I've affected people's lives in a positive way.”
AB: What are your future plans as a dancer?
GA: “I'm currently undertaking a Masters in Physical Education, specializing in Dancing-Aerobics. I'd like that to lead to teaching dance at university.
“As for coming up with a new dance style, it's possible. I would like to do something for disabled people and tackle other illnesses. But for now, my focus is on MERASH and tackling osteoporosis.”
AB: Any last words to belly-dancing-skeptics?
GA: “People have generally taken a bad impression of belly dancers, because traditionally in Egypt the dancing was always very seductive and sexualized. Older generations look at it as a shameful type of dancing. However, women are slowly changing their minds about dancing in general, although most men are yet to do the same. What I try to do is present belly dancing in a different, more professional and 'decent' light.”
If you'd like to get fit with Ghadeer, you can attend one of her classes at:
Fit Pro Academy
Days to be scheduled
Vega branch: Sunday & Thursday
Rabieh: Saurday, Monday & Thursday
Matrix: Saturday & Wednesday
Ghadeer is currently meeting with potential investors who are looking to take MERASH to the next level. For more information, you can contact Ghadeer directly on firstname.lastname@example.org
By Arwad Khalifeh