A relatively new dance club is welcoming students of all shapes and sizes.
The Belly Dance Club started last fall and is supervised by resident belly dance instructor Anna West. West says there is a major misconception about belly dancing and encourages more Salt Lake Community College students to participate.
“There seems to be some kind of idea that there’s an expected body type in belly dance, or an expected gender, or an expected role, or identity, and there’s not,” she says. “Don’t assume that you need to have a certain body type or body image. Belly dance is accepting of all body types. Don’t put yourself down and don’t think you can’t try it.”
For the first time ever, members of the Belly Dance Club participated in Belly Dance Spring Fest earlier this month. Also called “belly dance Christmas” by many local dancers, the annual event serves as a reunion for performers from across the area.
“We tend to have a slower season in January and February, so [SpringFest] is when everyone brings out their new costumes they worked on all winter and their new choreography,” West says. “We’re a tight-knit community, and everybody brings out their new stuff they’ve been working on and we shake off winter.”
West has been belly dancing since 2003. She started teaching at SLCC in 2013 and wants any student who may be hesitant about joining the club to keep an open mind.
“Learn more about belly dance before you rule it out because it’s the most welcoming, accepting art form in the world,” she says. “It’s fantastic exercise and great way to meet new friends, and keep your mind healthy as well.”
The Belly Dance Club currently meets in the Lifetime Activities Center every Monday at 4 p.m. Club members participate in two major events and a service project each year. The perks of joining the club include letters of recommendation and eligibility for a $500 scholarship.
For students who want to learn the basics of belly dancing, SLCC will offer a belly dance class on Mondays and Wednesdays this upcoming summer semester.