A combination of early American hip-hop and Middle Eastern beats— punctuated by jangles from belly dancers shaking their hips — echoes through the dining area of the Northborough Senior Center.
This is a class for seniors led by 74-year-old Gypsy Phillips (center), a Northborough resident who began teaching belly dancing shortly after taking her first lesson decades ago.
Phillips said older people can benefit from belly dancing in several ways.
“I think it helps their memory — learning steps, learning choreography, gets them to think,’’ said Phillips. “Second of all, they keep their body moving. You’ve got an ache or a pain, you work it out.’’
Anna Connors, 59, of Shrewsbury, knows something about that. Connors, pictured above, says dancing has helped ease her multiple sclerosis symptoms. She’s been under Phillips’ tutelage for four years.
Phillips, who says she reveals her actual first name only to the IRS, teaches belly dancing through Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School’s adult education program, as well as at local churches and senior centers in Shrewsbury, Westborough, and Northborough.
Phillips charges $10 per lesson, $3 for seniors. A 10-week class through the high school’s Assabet After Dark program is $100.
Judy Daubney, of Upton, is pictured above during a belly dancing class.
Phillips heads the Gypsy Moon Dance Company, which brings together dance elements from Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Latin and urban America.
And while Phillips has also dabbled in ballroom, swing, and Argentine tango, belly dancing is something special, she said.
Wendy Cheung of Marlborough dances with a veil during the belly dancing class.
Phillips will be showcasing her belly dancing students in Gypsy Moon’s next semi-annual recital, slated for May 17 at Assabet Valley Tech, 215 Fitchburg St. in Marlborough.
The recital, titled “Illusion,’’ will be held at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $7 at the door.