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Finding the inner beauty of the ‘Everyday Woman’

By Angelique York

In the movie "True Lies," Jamie Lee Curtis portrays a nerdish housewife married to a suave master spy played by Arnold Schwarzenegger. In one of the movie's funniest scenes, the shy and awkward wife is called upon to do a provocative dance.

It goes poorly at first. Slowly, she becomes more and more confident. With just a little coaching, she eventually turns loose a performance that shocks her husband.

I was intrigued by the thought of that and wondered if an average mom could actually pull off such an incredible stunt. Could I learn to dance like Jamie Lee Curtis, or was it pure Hollywood fantasy? When I saw an ad for "The Art of Exotic Dancing for Everyday Women," I knew I had to try it.

The three-hour class was held at Rhythm & Moves Studios in Southlake. Students arrived in workout clothes, as they would for any dance or exercise class. The session started with introductions. Like me, most of the women were there because they thought it would be fun; some had a particular goal in mind, such as performing for their husband's birthday or their wedding anniversary.

Soon we were up on our feet and ready to begin. For me, the hardest part of the class was getting over that strange feeling that happens any time I take up a new physical activity. My brain understands the movement, but it has to send a message to the muscles telling them what to do.

It sometimes takes a while before that happens. I wasn't alone. We were encouraged to keep going, keep trying, until it clicked for us. There was no time limit and no pressure.

The second hardest task was eye contact - with myself. Women look in the mirror every day, but it's always for a purpose. Usually that purpose is improvement.

Adding makeup, fixing hair, or making sure an outfit is just right are all harsh activities. Part of "Exotic Dancing for Everyday Women" is looking at one's self with appreciation instead of judgment.

Once those two issues were overcome, it was time for walking. As simple as that sounds, moms often lose their good posture carrying children, lifting groceries, washing dishes and all the activities that cause our bodies to fold down and inward.

Chest high, shoulders relaxed, attitude in place, we practiced. Once we got our legs working, we added hand and arm movements. It took some work, but we mastered it.
After a brief break, we learned other techniques to add style to our motions. Hip rolls, floor work and being face-to-face with the mirror again pulled it all together.

Our instructor, Deborah Monk, took the class many times before deciding to teach it to others. She said that the class is about finding the inner beauty that is lost when we pay attention to the media's ideal of how we should look. Her goal is to help women recapture that little girl who used to just start skipping, without concern for who was watching or what they might think.

"Every time I took the class, I found more of myself," Monk said. "I discovered I could do more with my body than I thought I could. I had been limited by other's perceptions.

"I am so much more confident now, not just dancing, but in school, in job interviews and other situations," she said. "I've also found that I can share with other women instead of competing. You find things in yourself that you never thought to look for, things you didn't know you were capable of."

As we tried different moves, we realized that some bodies tend to go better clockwise than counter-clockwise. Some of us felt comfortable with arms overhead while others preferred movements that were close to the body. None of us did things exactly the same way. Instead, we each moved in the way that felt best and most natural to us.

There was no competition and no comparison. At no point in the class did anyone take their clothes off. Exotic dancing, at least the kind for everyday women, isn't about seduction as much as it is about celebrating the uniqueness of one's self and reconnecting to that very basic core of feminine nature.

Clarissa Pierro, master instructor and territory owner, said that the title of the class can be off-putting. In business situations, people have thought she works in a gentlemen's club or teaches women to be strippers. Nothing could be further from the truth.

"Yes, you can use this in a relationship," Pierro said. "A lot of women come in to learn to dance for their husband. But it's not about a performance, it's about self-expression.

"When you look around, you see examples of women taking care of themselves," Pierro continued. "Oprah, Dr. Phil, magazines and books - it's everywhere. It's about evolving feminine energy.

"Maybe women come to the class because the name is a little naughty, or they can feel they have a little secret, but it's really about rediscovering themselves. I see women come in here in a shell and I see them walk out with a glow."

To make room for everything we need to be, moms often relinquish the feminine, sexy, sensuous side of themselves. The good news is that it's still there. We just need to find it.

The answer to my question, "Can an average mom really do this?" is yes, absolutely. All you need is someone to show you how.

Dale Estrabao opened Rhythm & Moves Studios in early January of this year. The studio offers a number of classes, including NIA, pilates, dance and yoga. For a complete list of classes, call (817) 251-6683 or see the website,

"The Art of Exotic Dancing for Everyday Women" will be available at Rhythm & Moves Studios again July 31, Aug. 15 and Sept. 11. Other locations are available, as are videos and books. See for details.

A Mom's Eye View appears the first and third week of each month. E-mail Angelique at

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