Girls' Belly Dance
Dance is a natural means of expression for children; they move their bodies with a sense of freedom that is often somehow lost along the way to adulthood. Ask any child if they can sing or dance and you will probably hear a resounding ‘Yes, of course!’ My philosophy about teaching belly dance to kids is that it need not be difficult for them. Each child is different and progresses at a different rate and this is OK. When it comes to children’s classes at Elevations, the team of teachers encourage a supportive and non-judgmental atmosphere with a focus on fun rather than on formal technique training. For most children, the experience of attending a dance class with a gentle and encouraging teacher can have a lasting, positive impact that follows them well into their adult years and even stay with them for life. On the other hand, a negative experience in a dance class can have an equally lasting effect.
Up until recently the first (and sometimes only option) for many parents was to enroll their children in ballet, jazz, or tap dance classes. However, if truth be told - these styles of dance are not always suitable for all girls. A mother once told me how she felt absolutely heartbroken when her shy six-year-old daughter attended a ballet class and left sobbing when the teacher had told her she would never be a ballerina because she had ‘flat feet’ and ‘bad hips’. After enrolling her daughter in belly dancing classes, she was thrilled when in the very first class her daughter beamed when she learned that “in belly dancing your feet stay flat on the floor” and your “hips have a life of their own!” It is this grounded nature of belly dance that makes it particularly accessible to children and adults alike.
The responses of the girls showed a maturity and awareness about what it means to belly dance that took me by surprise.
Why past students like belly dancing:
the opportunity to make friends
colorful and noisy dance costumes
the way it makes them feel to dance creatively
to feel like part of a team
to enjoy the positive reactions of audiences when they performed.
Being part of a dance class is much more than just learning how to dance. It also helps to instil valuable life lessons like working with others, moving in rhythm (physically and socially) with a group of their peers, and understanding and accepting the differences between each other. Belly dance introduces kids to music they may not hear anywhere else, a movement vocabulary that helps develop their fine and gross motor skills, and enables them to explore new forms of creative movement in a safe and warm environment. As one student commented, “in belly dancing class... I can be myself”.