Oriental dance classes will be offered at UREC | Daily

“Egyptian Figure Eights” and “Mayan Hips” will become part of UREC’s vocabulary as the installation delves into belly dancing culture.

“Shake Your Belly Off”, UREC’s new specialty course, offers its first paid course on February 2.

“I decided to try to give belly dancing more visibility,” class instructor Alison Benda said.

Benda, a 2007 University alumnus, works at the St. James Place retirement community as a move-in coordinator. She said she chose her hobby as a creative outlet to balance the boredom of the nine-to-five life.

She took her first class at Fleur de Leaf Dance Studio in Baton Rouge and has been working to promote belly dancing in the community ever since.

“It’s a dance form that a lot of women are keen to try but don’t always know classes are available,” Benda said.

Benda contacted one of her former colleagues who was interested in belly dancing. The contact person, Jennifer Mills, worked at UREC.

When Benda expressed interest in teaching a belly dancing class, UREC staff jumped on board with the idea. This is the first time the institution will offer the specialty course.

“It’s such a different type of exercise class,” Benda said. ” It grows [students] a little further takes them out of their comfort zone.

Belly dancing focuses on isolating various muscles, Benda said, and it doubles as a cardio workout.

“When you’re in the moment, you forget you’re exercising,” she said.

Benda has performed at a wide range of venues, from restaurants to weddings.

She said her most interesting performance was at a Palestinian wedding

Party.

“It was a place filled with just women who had to keep belly dancing private in their homes,” Benda said. “I felt so entangled in their culture.”

Benda has also performed at several Baton Rouge belly dancing festivals, which she says motivated her to continue in this art.

“It teaches you to move your body in ways you never imagined,” she said.

Sophomore Lauren Perret has expressed interest in the program.

“I think it’s a great opportunity to learn about other cultures,” Perret said.

Abigail Ponthi, a pre-nursing sophomore, attended UREC dance classes and also plans to enroll in belly dancing.

“I took the Street Beats class and the other dance classes,” Ponthi said. “I think this class would definitely attract a lot of people.”

Benda said she hopes to boost her students’ confidence by encouraging them to try something different.

She will give lessons on Mondays and Wednesdays from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Registration closes on Friday.

“I think this class will help them learn something about themselves,” she said.

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