Shaking and moving their way to get in shape, gain confidence and have a good time, the Murray State belly dancers have class every Monday night.
The classes, which started last month for the semester, cost $5 per session but regular attendance is not required. There is only one thing required for the class: comfortable gym clothing.
The main focus is having fun and teaching people a way to build self-confidence.
“There are a lot of benefits, it helps flexibility, and I think people need to realize it really helps with your self-esteem,” Devon Aldridge, senior from Eddyville, Ky., said. “I feel better about myself every time I go to another class.”
Some of the students in the class perform what they have learned. Not all of the students have to participate in these performances.
Other students have heard about the belly dancing class from those specific performances.
More formal dress is worn during performances. A hip scarf with coins is worn along with cholis which a number of the dancers refer to as “gypsy tops.”
Jane Etheridge, director of the Women’s Center, decided to start the classes after seeing a performance herself.
“When she danced, she danced with confidence and connectivity,” Etheridge said. “It’s (belly dancing) a celebration of our natural bodies.”
The instructor chooses the music, however each group that performs collectively decides what they are going to wear for that performance.
The instructor choreographs a dance students begin learning for the performances put on at the Curris Center.
During these performances a brief history of what belly dancing is given.
In America, the dance has become more provocative than in the past and is based on an Egyptian style.
The group that began classes is based in Paducah and call themselves the Zerdali group. The same person who organizes the group in Paducah teaches the classes on campus.
Anyone is allowed to join the class. There is a great opportunity to meet people.
“I think it is a fun form of exercise,” Marcie Siders, junior from Dover, Tenn., said. “I think more than that I like the people that I meet in class. I go more for the socialization.”
Building confidence, getting to know people, and exercising is the main focus of the belly dancing class.
“I am a biology major and I don’t get to express myself in that way,” Siders said.
It is an opportunity to express artistically through dance that may otherwise be unavailable.
The class also provides a stress reliever which is important for most people on campus.
The class is offered from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Mondays in the 2nd floor dance studio of the Fine Arts building.