Since last spring semester, membership in Lehigh’s belly dancing club has grown more than threefold, from 10 members to 32. With this many new members, the club has split into two groups when it performs because it cannot fit everyone on stage at once.
“We want anyone who is interested in this dance to be able to do it,” vice president Amber Wallace, ’18, said. “We try to make it a club that everyone has the ability to get involved in.”
Zhane Jackson, ’18, who joined the club last spring, said she enjoys the inclusive and approachable atmosphere that the belly dancing club creates.
Belly Dancing tries to have at least one social activity per semester that doesn’t involve dancing, in order to foster that sense of inclusiveness.
“(Belly dancing) is about being comfortable in your own skin and body confident,” said Justine Gaetano, ’16, who has been a member of the club since her first year at Lehigh.
The club will perform March 25 at Dance Fest, an annual Lehigh performance showcase. This is the group’s main performance of the semester. Members are asked to perform at least once per semester.
The club will also be dancing at International Bazaar and Spec-Spec Talent Show, which are optional performances. In the fall, they performed at Fusion and had a small group perform for Arabic Night.
“People have become a lot more comfortable with dancing, performing and themselves in general,” club president Katie Barr, ’18, said.
Currently, the belly dancing club is working toward legitimizing their club by increasing the authenticity of how they portray the style of dancing.
“We used to do body rolls to Shakira and call it belly dancing,” Wallace said.
Barr said they are trying to bring it back to traditional belly dancing, or oriental dancing, which is the more culturally appropriate term. Belly dance 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 that were purchased online.
“It’s really important to us that we have costumes that fit everyone and honor the style of dancing that we do,” she said.
The belly dancing club has one male member. Barr said the group is open to any men who are genuinely interested in learning belly dancing.
To accommodate all the participants, the belly dancing club meets on both Tuesdays and Fridays, and dancers go to whichever practice best fits their schedule. Friday, however, is considered the regular practice. This semester, the Tuesday side group is learning veil choreography.
“Come for the dancing,” Wallace said, “stay for the community.”