Belly dancing workshop provides chance for empowerment

Belly dancing is no longer just for people with toned stomachs who can dance.

Rainbow Dancers Yaschica Williams, chair of the sociology department, and Melissa Parker will host a belly dancing class Feb. 3 at 5 p.m. in Banquet Hall B.

Williams said in an email people will not only learn dancing, but also its history.

“Participants will gain a little bit of knowledge about the history of belly dance as well as belly dance and body image,” she said. “Further, participants will be taught fundamental belly dance movements. The workshop will conclude with participants learning a short dance choreography.”

Administrative Assistant of the University Success Center Tammy Rhodes planned the workshop.

“The belly dancing class is the beginning of our advertisement for the vagina monologues,” she said. “A lot of what is talked about in the vagina monologues is the body.”

Williams said everyone is welcome to come.

“The workshop is open to students, faculty, staff and community members,” she said. “Participants are required to be 5 years of age or older.”

She said there will also be a $3 donation with proceeds going to the Center for Women’s Studies.

Rhodes said she is looking forward to dancing with her colleagues.

Williams said she chose to teach the class due to her love of belly dancing.

“Anytime I have the opportunity to teach belly dance and talk to women about belly dance I jump right in,” she said. “There are a lot of misconceptions about belly dance, and anytime I get the opportunity to clear these up, I do so.”

Rhodes said people participating will gain a new appreciation for their body.

“It’s important to have an event that embraces what the body is, whether it’s a guy embracing his body or a woman,” she said. “We want everyone to be able to come and learn to love their body.”

Senior Tracee White said she is excited to take the class.

“I have always been interested in (belly dancing), and it has always fascinated me,” she said. “Once I found out there would be a workshop on campus, I jumped at the opportunity.”

Williams said it is best to be comfortable when coming to the workshop.

“Any shoe that will allow dance movement is good,” she said. “With clothing, there is some variety. On the bottom, I would suggest stretch leggings, yoga pants or jazz-dance pants. On top, I recommend a comfortable T-shirt or tank that offers adequate support. A hip scarf or sash is recommended to emphasize and define hip movement.”

Editor’s Note: Life Editor Melissa Parker is helping with the class. She did not contribute to any part of this article.