Belly dance is less about being sexual and more about a woman accepting her body at any age. What many don’t realize is that Abbotsford is home to a world-class belly dance studio that’s changing lives.
Tha Realm Dance Studio is owned and operated by Nicci Marsh. While working an office job she realized that she needed to find a way to stay in shape but hated the gym. She tried belly dance and was hooked. So much in fact that she quit the corporate world to pursue it full time and hasn’t looked back since.
“It isn’t about money for me,” says Marsh. “I do it because it’s changed my life.”
She now uses the dance form to help other women change their lives too. She says that belly dance is not about being sexy or appealing to men, it’s about women accepting their bodies and accepting each other.
When women at Tha Realm were asked what they have gained from belly dance, the words confidence, empowerment and acceptance frequently came up.
Angela Zonneveld, who has been dancing with Marsh since 2008 said, “belly dance women are the best women I’ve ever met. There is so much laughing and no judgement.”
Another student said, “nobody believes how old I am because my body looks so good, all because of belly dance.”
Marsh’s students range in ability levels, ethnicity, body type and age, with her oldest student being seventy years old.
So how has the religious community of Abbotsford responded to this style of dance?
“We’re very involved in the community, we always perform at local festivals and when the studio is open people are always coming in to see what we’re all about,” says Marsh.
Tha Realm was even nominated for a Business Excellence award for its positive contribution to the community.
Marsh continues to seek ways to educate Abbotsford residents about the style of dance, including what a great workout it can be.
For those interested in seeing what Marsh and her students at Tha Realm have to offer, sign up for a class or watch their upcoming showcase, A Few of Our Favourite Things, at the Matsqui Cenntenial Auditorium on May 30.
Marsh promises the show will be entertaining for the whole family and says the costumes, choreography and music will range from traditional to modern.
When: Saturday, May 30 at 7 p.m.
Where: Matsqui Cenntenial Auditorium – 32515 South Fraser Way, Abbotsford
Tickets: $20 – purchase at the Tha Realm studio or online
Location: 33788 George Ferguson Way in Abbotsford
Written by Dallas Carlson. Follow Dallas on Twitter @dk_carlson