In belly dancing, showing your middle isn't tabooUAF Sun Star - Fairbanks,AK,USA, Tuesday, 4 December 2007
In belly dancing, showing your middle isn’t taboo
by Tessa Borce
Sun Star Reporter
When you think of belly dancing you might think of Shakira. She is a singer/dancer who recently popularized the dance. There are many dance troupes that perform and practice belly dancing in Fairbanks. Troupes are groups of people who dance together. They perform about four times a year and they entice talent from all over the world. Going to a Middle Eastern dance "Navel Academy" in Fairbanks, Alaska seems like something unusual but it was exactly what happened this October. It was Saqra's first visit here to Alaska. She noted that the people here are warm and friendly. Belly dancing is a great way to get involved and we have "excellent" instructors here. Saqra also visited Juneau and enjoyed more workshops and performances.
"Belly dancing is not like stripping it's more like yoga and aerobics," explained the dance legend Saqra. She has been dancing for thirty years and won international competitions all over the world. Saqra and other local instructors put on a weeks worth of workshops from Greek line dancing, to elegant arm movement.
The singer-dancer Shakira has recently made belly dance popular in America as well as many other nations. UAF senior Penny Gage said she has seen Shakira in concert and she was amazing. "Not only was the singing and dancing great but her grand finale included 20 other belly dancers,” she said. Though it is very popular now, Middle Eastern dance from Middle East, Turkey and Egypt is one of the oldest dance forms. Originally it was done by women and men, but over time men just wanted to see women dance. Women have popularized the style of dance, men still partake in the dance.
Today in America one of the main styles of belly dance is called American Style Tribal Dance. The style combines traditional belly dancing with hip-hop, jazz, and even cabaret. Although troupes practice ASTD, there is also a variety of other types of dance many varieties of folk dancing that originate from. One of the local dance troupes is Tundra Caravan. They are a non-profit organization aimed at teaching and educating. A dance style taught from Tundra Caravan is American Restaurant style belly dance. This variation of belly dancing originated in nightclubs in the U.S. in the 1960s and 1970s.
The president of tundra caravan, Susan Chapa said that they focus on the ASTD style among with the other types of folk dancing. They welcome people of all ages and even though women have "dominated" the performance aspect of belly dance for the last 100 years, belly dance is done mostly not by professionals, but by men, women, and
children in the home or at festive occasions by regular people.
Costume is another element of the experience. In the U.S. costumes can be flashy, have large flowing skirts, scant tops, flashy colors, and coins on costumes that make noise. Belly dance is a vibrant exciting dance, locally there are many great opportunities to get dance, have fun, and learn some new moves. You might not be the next Shakira, but local belly dancing troupes give you the opportunity to try.
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