Belly Dancing Club performs to break stereotypes
The audience filled the wall-to-wall seating, leaving the Pere Marquette Room standing room only, ready for a night of belly dancing.
It was a night club members came together to perform for their friends and family, and it was a night of education.
The Grand Valley State University belly dancing club brought together all they have learned in the past year for the March 15 recital, which included information about the dance’s many different origins.
Mariah Smith, president of the belly dancing club, said the recital was for audiences “to get a taste of a different style of dance and different cultures because we are use to the modern, the ballet and everything.”
The performance goal, Smith said, was to show race, origin, body style and nationality don’t matter – the art of belly dancing is about learning from the culture of the dance and interpreting what the different branches of belly dancing say.
“I just, I feel sometimes you need more diversity and dance is like the best way to bring people together,” Smith said.
The previous club president started the show by telling the audience that belly dancing is not a form of male entertainment.
“We get to educate people more about belly dancing and people get to see us dance,” Smith said. “We are not strippers, we are not male entertainers, it is a traditional dance and the more people who know that like the less stereotypes there is.”
Along with the stereotypes surrounding this type of dance, there is also a body image stigma, which many dancers have to get over.
“I think it is great that we have so many body types in the club, because there are people who make fun of me and say that you need a belly to be a belly dancer,” Pietrzack said. “We literally have tall girls, short girls, all different shapes and sizes. So I think that is really good for people to see. It doesn’t matter what you look like, or you know, if you love doing it and if you can keep up with the group, than I think it’s great for anyone who wants to belly dance. You don’t have to be a certain type to be a belly dancer.”
As a new member, Glownia was nervous about joining because of the stereotypes, body image ideals and culture expectations made by society about the dance.
“We all start as newbies and no one is a pro at it when they first started, and we really understand people’s comfort levels. If you don’t want to show your stomach than you don’t have to show your stomach,” DeVries said. “We want you to be able to feel comfortable dancing in your own skin, so we take it easy and teach you what we do.”