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      Belly dancers perform at Escanaba Sesquicentennial Parade

      Belly dancing has emerged as one of the hot, new workout trends in recent years.

      Perhaps it's popular because all ages and every body type are revered in this Middle Eastern dance form. Belly dancing celebrates womanhood, giving some of its students a newfound confidence. Heather Thompson of Escanaba said, "My self image, my self esteem has gone up greatly by just finding the beauty in the dance. And in finding the beauty in the dance, I found the beauty in myself." Another dancer, Rita Johnson, said, "I was looking to lose weight, so I signed up, and it's helped a lot. It has made me 40 pounds thinner, and I'm in a lot better shape."

      Fitness Instructor, Jeana Harmon, says she is always looking for new and exciting ways to exercise. She says, "It's the best workout. I've been teaching fitness for over 30 years, and this is the best workout I've come across. But more than that, it really builds self esteem. It gets women to participate and to be open with each other and feel good about their body type."

      The Goddess Belly Dance Troupe is performing in Escanaba's 150th Sesquicentennial Parade along Main Street. They will also have a booth at Ludington Park and will be providing demonstrations.

      And as for the extravagant costumes, Jeana Harmon says, "Some of the girls make them, but I don't have time. So, eBay!"

      The Bonifas Arts Center in Escanaba will hold beginner belly dance classes this September. No experience is necessary.