As the Director of the Belly Motions TEENS Program I’m frequently asked if Belly Dance is too provocative for young girls. I can understand this initial worry (my mother originally had concerns when I first started belly dancing at age 14), and I’d like to share my experience on the topic…
First, the misconception that Belly Dance is designed to be a “sexual dance for men” stems from many years of commercialism, media exploitation and ignorance. What is displayed on television, in music videos and movies is often an overly sexualized version of the original dance. History itself has also created a less-than-desired amount of respect for this beautiful and elegant art form. This is the cause for so much concern as to whether Belly Dance is appropriate for teens (or any woman for that matter).
Here are 3 steps to finding a professional, authentic and appropriate Belly Dance class for your TEEN or YOU!
1. Research Dance Schools: Visit the dance schools in mind and ask the questions! How long has the Belly Dance program been active and what does the curriculum consist of? Keep an eye out for images or any other hints of a possible overly sexualized approach. Search for a dance studio that is professional, organized and well established with a positive and nourishing environment. This will assure your daughter will be safe, well directed and in good hands.
2. Research the Instructor: Again, ask questions! How long has the instructor studied Middle Eastern Dance and where? Watch the instructor in action and stay after class to speak with her. Many dance schools claim to teach “Belly Dance” but the Instructor is often under-qualified. Dance instructors may be well versed in ballet, jazz or lyrical dance but these styles are completely different from Belly Dance, a folkloric dance derived from the Middle East. It takes many years to become a well-rounded and educated Belly Dance instructor. In addition, find an instructor who instills self-respect, body acceptance and camaraderie among her students.
3. View Past Performances: Costume etiquette, appropriate movement and presentation of self are very important, especially when dealing with minors dancing in public! Preview former theater or community shows that have been produced by the dance studio or instructor in mind. This will give you an idea of how your teen may be presented in future productions helping you make a decision on the school.
Today, Belly Dance is slowly becoming a studied dance genre (such as jazz or hip hop). Belly Dance lessons, instruction and competitive dance teams can be found in many dance schools around the U.S. and the globe.
What’s most important are the benefits Belly Dance has to offer…
Belly Dance delivers feelings of empowerment and joy and contributes to body acceptance among women…especially young women who are going through puberty! In addition, Belly Dance will get teens off their iPhones encouraging physical fitness, social skill development and friendship building! It’s a shame to think many young women never get to experience these wonderful benefits due to misunderstanding and misrepresentation.