By Miriam Rieck
Belly Dancing: If the image that pops into your mind is Scheherazade and the Dance of the Seven Veils, it is probably because Western connotation has placed a sexual innuendo on the art of belly dancing. Ask a belly dancer and they will tell you the dance is a beautiful art form that is a celebration of their femininity and that they work very hard for many hours honing their skill. While typically one thinks of beautiful women in thinly veiled costumes, in reality this dance form is open to any age, size, or gender. Ask the two men in the belly dance troupe.
Belly dance is no longer a country-specific dance. With origins in Arabic countries as a form of dance done in the harems by the harem for the harem and without male viewers, it is an art form that has now acquired international roots, flavors, and costumes. The costumes can range from the traditional to gypsy-like dress. Props such as veils, wings, swords, and canes all are part of the routines. As the dance form continues to go international, it adds new styles and flavors as each country adds its own unique twist to the dance form. There is even a new fitness wave called BellyFit International: in their words, “a Holistic fitness system for women with dance cardio moves inspired by belly dancing adding in Bollywood and African dance with Pilates, and yoga-based stretches.”
According to aficionados, there is absolutely no one who cannot participate or learn to belly dance. The one thing all the different forms have in common is a fun loving, highly supportive dance community. From teachers who teach lessons in their garage studios to dance centers, this dance form is picking up enthusiasts right and left. Here in Bryan/College Station, there is an entire community that supports and promotes one other.
Locally, there are three main groups, and each offer lessons, perform in various festivals, including World Fest, and elsewhere around B/CS. Visitors to First Friday in Downtown Bryan will discover belly dancers among the milieu when the weather is a little warmer. Dancers perform at Revolution Café and Mr. G’s pizza, both in Downtown Bryan, in a more casual format. At Revolution, Hafla is an open-door performance offered every few months, and the community can come and listen, partake of Middle Eastern food and drink, and hear local live musicians performing as dancers demonstrate the various types of music.
For more information, check out these local belly dance groups.
Brazos Belly Dance
An umbrella organization for local groups, Brazos Belly Dance is open for the public to LIKE on Facebook. The resource publishes information on local troupes and performances around town.
Horizon Belly Dance
Offering lessons to the public, Horizon Belly Dance teaches a more traditional style, though the owner adds a Latin flavor to the dance style.
TAMU Belly Dance Association
Lessons, open only to Texas A&M students and employees, offer traditional and some tribal fusion styles. The Association members participate in all local belly dance performances and work hand-in-hand with community groups.
Daughters of ARA
Offering lessons to the public, Daughters of ARA offers a tribal fusion style of belly dance.
If you prefer the format of a dance studio, the Dance Centre offers belly dance as a class, along with a variety of other dance and fitness classes.