Belly dancing class performs, empowers

Belly dancing students demonstrated the expressive art during a performance to Sahara Dunes at the CHESS art gallery on March 30.

The performance titled, “The Art of Belly Dancing,” began with a speech by instructor Mary Beth O’Connor, associate professor of communication, and light refreshments and snacks provided for guests. O’Connor explained the history and culture behind the dance and the reason she brought the class to PNW.

“I decided to teach this class because I was aiming to help women in terms of their self-confidence and self-image,” O’Connor said. “Belly dancing is the most natural way to dance for females. It is the way we are supposed to move, but we were never taught that way because our bodies are considered bad.”

After O’Connor’s speech, the performers entered single file into the room, dressed in all black except for a colorful hip scarf of their choosing. The dancers showcased their talents, impressing the audience after spending eleven weeks in the class.

After the dance, the ladies lined up and answered questions from the audience. They also took a moment to discuss their favorite thing about the class as well as what they struggled most with when learning the dance.

The ladies took to the stage once again afterwards because an encore was encouraged by the audience.

“I love the freedom I feel when I am dancing,” Miya Holden, senior English writing major, said. “Though it is nerve-racking at the beginning, it definitely helped me gain confidence.”

Holden was one of the many that felt personally touched by this performance. Audience members also admired the work put into this performance.

“I think this performance was beautiful,” Michael Justiniano, audience member, said. “There is a big problem with women being treated differently than men, and this is a great way to empower them.”

“I’ve been interested in belly dancing for a while now, but it is not offered at my school so this is a great opportunity,” Palek Patel, audience member, said. “I also think the cause behind [the dance] was empowering, because women sometimes feel inferior to men and this is a great way to prove they are capable of doing anything.”

O’Connor said that it’s vital for every woman to have a good relationship with her body.

“I know that if the women from this university found out how important this class is, I would be teaching it five times a week,” O’Connor said.