Belly Dance for Teens
Belly Dance (aka Raqs Sharqi, meaning "Dance of the East" in Arabic") is an exciting and complex art steeped in the social traditions of Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey and other countries of the region. People of all ages and genders do it for fun, fitness, healing, sensuality, social connection, artistic expression and many other personal reasons.
In this series you will be introduced to the history behind belly dance, learn fundamental movement techniques and develop important musical skills in a supportive environment.
Teens classes are focused on building positive self-relationship through body awareness, confidence building and skill development.
Ages 13+, no experience required.
Adaptations can be offered for most physical needs or alternative learning styles, please communicate with the teacher about possible accommodations you may require.
Recommended: water, comfortable clothing, scarf or belt to tie around your hips, notepad and pen if you like to take notes.
Is belly dance suitable for teens?
Yes! Many of the belly dancers I know including myself started learning between ages 13 and 15. Raqs Sharqi developed from social dances and in the cultures of origin everyone dances-babies, dads, moms, grandmas, uncles, everyone!
I think a valuable asset of learning as a teen is the development of spatial and body awareness; musical, artistic and physical skills as well as building a positive sense of self worth through practice and gradual achievement.
Do I have to show my belly/hair/arms/etc?
Absolutely not, I will never pressure you to show more than you are comfortable with. I usually wear leggings, a tank top and a hip scarf.
Do I need a hip scarf or costume?
No, but it wearing something around your hips will help show the movements more clearly and it can make the experience more fun
Isn't belly dance only for women?
Nope. In countries such as Egypt and Lebanon the social version of this dance is done by everyone. There are also many genders present as performers and instructors of the professional version of the dance.
What kind of belly dance will I learn?
We will learn a blend of Egyptian and American belly dance styles as my education is primarily in Egyptian Raqs Sharqi and American belly dance as it developed in the middle eastern diaspora communities.
Isn't belly dance supposed to be "sexy"?
There’s a long standing association with sexuality or sensuality in Middle Eastern and African dances because of western cultural views on torso articulated movement, meaning any dance which primarily uses movements of the torso, hips, pelvis, chest or back rather than limb movements of arms, legs and feet will be viewed as being sexual, whether the culture of origin views it that way or not.
Ultimately any movement can be used with the intention to seduce, but that is not the social function of raqs sharqi. In the cultures of origin this is a dance of joy and celebration traditionally occurs at weddings and other family celebrations in two ways:
The first is the social dance performed out of joy or for personal amusement by women and men (both dance but usually in gender segregated areas).
The second is by a professional dancer who appears in costume and often sings or performs with songs which could be considered suggestive for the union of the bride and groom soon to occur. This is one situations in which a nod to, or overt sexuality is appropriate and expected within the society.
Outside of these celebratory contexts it can be more complicated and varies depending on each person’s viewpoint and the artist in question.
The short answer is each person’s world view will determine what they consider sexual and whether sexuality is a negative or positive thing. You are free to decide for yourself if this is something you want to embrace or minimize. I do not promote the idea of "dance for your sultan" mentality in my classes and I do acknowledge that the movements of raqs sharqi can have a rehabilitating effect on people whose sense of safety in sexuality or sensuality has been damaged in the past.