Club Corner: Lehigh’s belly dance club
Since the last spring semester, the membership of the Lehigh Belly Dance Club has more than tripled, from 10 to 32 members. With so many new members, the club split into two groups when performing as he cannot suit everyone on stage at once.
“We want anyone interested in this dance to be able to do it,” said Vice President Amber Wallace, ’18. “We are trying to make it a club that everyone has the opportunity to be involved in.”
Zhane Jackson, 18, who joined the club last spring, said she appreciates the inclusive and accessible atmosphere created by the belly dancing club.
Belly dancing tries to have at least one social activity per semester that does not involve dancing, in order to foster this feeling of inclusion.
“(Belly dancing) is about being comfortable in yourself and confident in your body,” said Justine Gaetano, ’16, who has been with the club since her first year at Lehigh.
The club will perform on March 25 at Dance Fest, an annual showcase of Lehigh performance. This is the main performance of the group for the semester. Members are encouraged to perform at least once per semester.
The club will also dance at the International Bazaar and the Spec-Spec Talent Show, which are optional performances. In the fall, they played Fusion and had a small band play for Arabic Night.
“People have become a lot more comfortable with the dance, the performance and themselves in general,” said club president Katie Barr, 18.
Currently, the belly dance club is striving to legitimize their club by increasing the authenticity of how they describe the dance style.
“We used to do Shakira body rolls and call it belly dancing,” Wallace said.
Barr said they were trying to bring it back to traditional belly dancing, or oriental dancing, which is the most culturally appropriate term. Belly dancing is a western term.
Wallace and Barr are also in the process of acquiring more culturally appropriate costumes. Wallace said the current costumes are Halloween costumes purchased online.
“It’s really important to us that we have costumes that suit everyone and honor the style of dance that we are doing,” she said.
The oriental dance club has a male member. Barr said the group is open to all men who are serious about learning belly dancing.
To accommodate all participants, the belly dance club meets on Tuesdays and Fridays, and dancers go to the practice that best fits their schedule. Friday, however, is considered regular practice. This semester, the Tuesday side group is learning the choreography of the veil.
“Come on for the dance,” Wallace said, “stay for the community.”