Around the world, belly dancing has become very popular. Modern singers have incorporated it into their performances and belly dance moves have made their way into fitness programs such as Zumba.
Belly dancing can be used as a form of exercise or for stress reduction. It’s also versatile, with so many different styles to pick from, it can suit anyone. Salt Lake Community College belly dance instructors teach the basic belly dance moves to students.
“It’s a good opportunity to meet new people and help students that maybe aren’t comfortable in a regular exercise program,” said SLCC belly dance instructor Annie McIntire. “It’s something that’s a little bit different and a little bit more fun for people who are looking for something more unique.”
Belly dancing is easier on the joints and generally less cardiovascular than many exercise programs, so people of all physical shapes can participate.
Belly dancing also increases the flexibility of the spine and can help relieve stress. Many fitness experts agree that any type of exercise releases stress from the body, improves mental function and can prevent or slow disease such as heart disease, type-two diabetes and arthritis.
Let’s hear it for the boys
While most people think of belly dance as just for women, there are many men who perform worldwide, including “Charles” of Salt Lake City, “Sultan” of France and “Dr. Mo Geddawi” of Egypt.
“Curiosity got the best of me,” said SLCC student Bruce Daw. “I thought this is a little bit out there, but it’s still dancing and thought it would be something I would enjoy.”
Daw became involved in dance in order to fill a fine arts credit requirement.
“I had never tried dancing but knew that I did not like it, but I needed an art credit,” said Daw. “I couldn’t draw, can barely make a straight line and they offered dance as an art credit so I tried a dance class and fell in love with it.”
Types of belly dance
There are many types of belly dance. One style of dance is the American Tribal Style which is typically done in a group and is improvised with no set choreography.
Oriental and Folkloric belly dance is a stylized dance influenced by different communities of the Orient and Middle East. Cabaret and Egyptian are traditionally the styles performed on stage.
Fusion belly dance is just what it sounds like – a mix of belly dance with any other types of dance. Examples include modern, Indian or Latin.
“I think there are a lot of misconceptions about belly dance as far as it being somewhat seductive,” said McIntire. “I think it is a true art and I don’t think it’s like that if it’s done well. It isn’t anything that anyone should be ashamed of. It’s not something I go out there and do for my husband. It’s something I do for myself.”
For students who are looking to improve their health and have fun doing so then belly dancing is an option.
“People should take this class because they will be trying something new, that they themselves didn’t even know that they love,” Daw said.