Belly Dancers... Their Stories, Their Experiences and Their Confessions

Grandma by Day, Belly Dancer by Night, Kim Carnagey Wants You to Belly Dance, No Excuses

On doctor’s orders to stay active, Kim Carnagey was looking for a little bit of exercise that she wouldn’t hate. At 43, she was newly a grandmother and certainly didn’t feel old, let alone look it. Avoiding the age old cliches, she began searching for dance classes. It only took one class of belly dancing and her search was finished: Kim was a belly dancer.

“Making my doctor’s goal for me of a couple times a week of exercise turned into nearly daily,” said Kim, a current resident of Austin, Texas. “After one class I was hooked and even practicing at home any time there was music on!”

Kim Carnagey, belly dance, hipmix.net, featured artist, sword dance, grandma belly dancerKim has been dancing for 5 years now and what continues to surprise her is the unending learning experience that comes with being a belly dancer. Her mentor, Austin, Texas, based belly dancer Bahaia, has provided many opportunities to do just that. From seminars with famous belly dancers, workshops about different dance props, to extraordinary performances, Kim has lessons under her belt that continue to drive her forward in her belly dance journey.

“I found out, this grandma LOVES sword, and that has become my passion in belly dance,” said Kim.

Kim’s passion has definitely affected her family. Her husband is one of her biggest supporters, and her daughters followed Kim into the world of Middle Eastern dance after watching their mom’s talent grow. When it comes to being her most adorable fan, her 4 year old grandson, Aidan, certainly takes the lead. After Kim taught him part of her sword dance one day prior to performance, he tried to run up on stage during her act to dance out his part!

Kim Carnagey, belly dance, hipmix.net, featured artist, sword dance, grandma belly dancerKim Carnagey, belly dance, hipmix.net, featured artist, sword dance, grandma belly dancer

 

On the left:

Kim and her daughters at the 2010 Austin Belly Dance Conference.

 

 

 

 

On the right:

Kim's grandson, Aidan, dressed as an adorable sultan.

 

Though most of the family is supportive, some family members continue to misunderstand the source of her joy.

“My two sons don’t so much oppose it as they try to ignore it. I just don’t think they can wrap their minds around their mom becoming a belly dancer after they left home.” said Kim. “But their friends think it’s cool!”

Kim Carnagey, belly dance, hipmix.net, featured artist, sword dance, grandma belly dancerIn addition to fighting misconceptions, there have been a few more unexpected challenges. After years of being in the audience, Kim discovered that shining in the spotlight wasn’t so easy. Stage fright was a huge issue she had to overcome, and though troupe performances are slightly more comfortable for her now, she still hasn’t conquered the fear entirely.

“Imagine being 43 and going on stage to dance for the first time in your life… very scary… but I survived!” Kim said.

Regardless of the perils, Kim enthusiastically recommends belly dance to anyone, whatever age. At 48, she is 30 pounds lighter than when she first started dancing and is currently on no medications. She has found through dance a reconnection with her younger, more feminine side, as well as new connections to amazing women who have been as much a part of her journey as belly dance itself.

If you’re age blessed, and looking for low impact dance with cultural roots, Kim wants you to consider belly dance first.

“DO IT!” Kim said. “It’s never too late to start belly dancing and belly dancers are never too old to dance.”

Kim’s Practice Bag:

Zills/cymbals, veil, hip scarf, water bottle, notepad & pen, knee pads, and a small towel.