Belly dance club promotes body positivity and cultural knowledgeThe Badger Herald

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For Audrey Jacobsen, the University of Wisconsin belly dance club not only improved her dancing skills, it also boosted her personal confidence.

“I think it’s quite stimulating to start without knowing anything – maybe you’ve never danced before, ”said Jacobsen, the club president. “And at the end of the semester, you can do so much movement, you know the choreography. I think it makes you a lot more confident.

Jacobsen pointed to the rich cultural history of the art form as a reason to get involved.

Jacobsen said the Roma brought the cultural tradition to Europe. From there it distributed and divided into different types of dance – Egyptian, Turkish, Eastern, American tribal and tribal fusion, she said.

Recognizing the different forms of movement and props that categorize these different areas of dance is integral to understanding the cultural significance of belly dancing, Jacobsen said. While the club have been active since 2010, Jacobsen said the club lacked that understanding.

“Unfortunately, we’ve kind of lost the history of oriental dance at the club,” said Jacobsen. “We are trying this year to really start to bring [the history] back so people can appreciate more where it came from.

This missing understanding of history is not only about the origins of bellydance across the world, Jacobsen said, but also about the music theory and history that shaped the different categories of bellydance. The different instruments of different categories provide another source of cultural significance, making it a topic she said she would like the club to research more in the future.

Religion has also played a role in the history of dance, particularly in how belly dancing has changed in style and the social effects it has had on its respective cultural community.

Although Jacobsen is passionate about all aspects of oriental dance, she believes that the body positivity and the acceptance that comes with it best promotes this art form.

Due to the stomach exposure, Jacobsen said it may be the only dance that doesn’t describe an ideal body type for his practice.

“The belly dance community in general is so accepting of people and the body types and levels of skill, ”said Jacobsen. “I have not at all the experience or witness to a judgment with this in the club. It really is wonderful.

Not only is the practice body positive, she said, but the belly dance community as a whole is broadly receptive to any level of dance ability, creating a safe space for learning.

While Jacobsen fell on belly dancing as a “happy accident” in sophomore, she clung to it and integrated the club into her student life.

As a senior, Jacobsen will be leaving UW soon, but she is thinking about the future for the club. Not only would she like to see the club immersed in the cultural and musical history of oriental dance, but she wants to let people know that anyone can be a candidate for dance.

“In a perfect world, people wouldn’t watch belly dancing and say ‘I can’t do that’,” Jacobsen said. “I think I would like to get more information about the club and more people to find out.”

The next UW Belly Dance Club show will be at Monona Terrace on April 23 at 8 p.m. ET. UW students can purchase tickets for $ 10.


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