First-time belly dancers graced the floor of the packed Studio Theatre in the basement of Esch Hall Wednesday, Feb. 25. Campus Program Board hosted an event with the group Belly Dance United, inviting students to attend and try belly dancing. CPB Sports and Recreation Chair Da’chera Baker organized the event for students to enjoy dancing and learn more about the culture behind belly dancing throughout the world.
“We went to NACA [National Association for Campus Activities], and basically you see all the talent there and if you like them, you book them to come to your school,” Baker said. “So we actually saw them there and realized, ‘Oh you’re pretty cool. We would like you to come to our school’.”
Before the energetic dancing, students were given a brief history of belly dancing and the culture surrounding it. The instructors also said that belly dancing is not limited to a specific gender or body type and that people of all shapes and sizes belly dance all around the world.
According to one of the instructors, Tamira Gonzalez, belly dancing is prevalent in many parts of the world, including the Middle East, Southern Asia, Eastern Europe, the United States and parts of Japan.
Gonzalez also discussed her personal history with belly dancing and how it has become part of her life.
“I’ve been belly dancing for 13 years,” she said. “I was always interested in dancing, but I was never one of those kids whose parents took me to dance class, so I just had to make up dance on my own. I joined my high school dance team and later, became an aerobics instructor, which was around the time belly dance got really popular over here [the United States]. I had a lot of friends doing it, and I thought, ‘Wow, I really want to do that!’ And now, here I am.”
After the history lesson and personal testimony came the first steps of dancing. With “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson, featuring Bruno Mars, as the first song, the students followed the moves of the instructors. According to junior nursing major Jacqlyn Hicks, the event was full of energy.
“It was fun, really fun. I felt more nervous when I first got here, but I was excited before that,” Hicks said. “But once I started dancing, it was just really fun.”
The students danced for roughly 45 minutes, learning the basics of belly dancing from the instructors. After the workshop, students were given a refreshment break before the BDU instructors began their routine. Freshman sociology major Amber McAtee, who participates in the on-campus Zumba, was excited for the chance to belly dance.
“I’ve always wanted to take belly dancing lessons, but I never went out and did it,” McAtee said. “It is definitely a lot different than the Latin dance in Zumba. It was actually better than I expected it would be.”
The BDU instructors mentioned that they hoped the students would continue in belly dancing after learning the basics from them. According to sophomore nursing major Jessica Vormohr, the event was exactly what she excepted, that the students would just be learning the very basics of belly dancing.
“I danced in high school, so I wasn’t nervous at all. I was ready for it,” Vormohr said. “On a scale of one to ten, I probably danced a three. It was fun though.”