A dance teacher helps their students find a song in their heart, a beat in their feet, and a passion for life
Bellydance is considered to be a social form of dance that is appropriate for all ages. In many countries belly dance is a social form of dance which is gaining popularity mostly among women, creating a worldwide dancing community. But when this creative and social form of dance comes to children, everything becomes a little complex. In the Middle Eastern society dancing children can be often seen at weddings or other family events as recreational activity and usually it is supported by relatives. But this attitude changes when it comes to studying the style and performing it on the stage. Why so?
What are the positive sides of belly dance for a child? There are several negative aspects which influence the appearance of child belly dance: Example of a class structure Development possibilities
♥ Fun. Movements differ from western dances and it can be very funny to learn how to do an abdominal wave or how to make your stomach flutter. Girls feel like princesses while dressing up in big chiffon dresses, wearing sparkly jewellery and make up. Being a real dance princess together with your friends, what could be better?
♥Exercise and fitness. Bellydance is a dance at the first place! A lot of movement, turns, spins, Port de Bras Pas de bourree, hip drops and camels that doesn’t sound familiar, isn’t it? Well, soon your girl will know all of them. Exercise will lead to strong muscles, flexibility and strong cardio-vascular health. If done regularly, belly dance helps to prevent obesity, and increases general body conditioning.
♥Rhythm and musicality. Music and dance often are inseparable when it comes to art. Middle eastern music is filled with complex rhythms and variations. Developing the feeling of music and rhythm will help the child to understand any kind of music and become artistically sensitive.
♥Mental Well-Being. Belly dance as no other dance forms teaches how to love and respect yourself, body, face, and accept everything that is unique in you. The bellydance community is very welcoming to dancers of all shapes and forms. There are no certain rules about what the dancer should look like or how they should behave, which gives a lot of appreciation to girls and women with lack of self-confidence. Many women suffer from a lack of self-respect as a damaging result of continuing influence of media since childhood. Girls will learn how to accept themselves and resist the overwhelming influence of the fashion industry.
♥Social Opportunities. The belly dance community is one of the biggest dance communities for women in the UK. Many dance events will offer a new environment and friends from all over the world. Dance and community will help to re-balance energy levels in a very active child or develop confidence in a shy little dancer.
♥Cultural Awareness. Belly dance teaches tolerance and acceptance of other cultures, not from history books in school but from real life. Belly dance easily brings together dance lovers from different cultures and social backgrounds. It gives great opportunities to learn traditional dances of other cultures and to share your own.
♥Performance skills. Belly dance helps a dancer to feel like an actress, to change and express different emotions in dance. With each choreography little dancers learn how to reach the audience and share the main idea hidden in the performance without saying a word. It is important to learn and develop confidence of public appearance as it gives many opportunities in adult life. Being self-confident in public can be easily learned as a part of dance routine, bringing more fun into the process. Solo and group performances teaches responsibility, self-control, develops necessary skills to work with your own initiative and together with your team members to achieve better results.
It is worth mentioning, if started in early age, very high results can be easily achieved. Many famous dancers started their dancing life in in very early age and now this became a full time job as they are travelling around the world giving workshops and perform in very prestigious dance events.
♠Seductive moves. Because of Hollywood influence on perception of belly dance many people believe that bellydance is appropriate only for seduction and the entertainment of men, causing negative reactions towards child belly dance. Many parents think that bellydance teaches how to entertain a male, often conflating it with striptease and similar dance styles. Unlike many other dance forms, belly dance has its own history, and western preconceptions should not stop anyone from learning and familiarizing themselves with traditional belly dance style. Because of the rich background there is plenty of information to learn prior to actual seductive movements. Parents should remember that child bellydance is different from the adult form as it is mostly focused on the position of the body, arms and rhythm.
♠Revealing dance costumes. This topic was widely discussed some years ago. I strongly believe this is a perfect example of double standards, as belly dance costumes (even 2 pieces ones) are much more appropriate and less open than for example costumes of gymnasts, figure skaters, ballet dancers and last but definitely not least latin ballroom dancers. In many countries young belly dancers under 12 (in some cases under 14) years old get disqualified from competitions if they wear a two piece set instead fully covered one piece dress. The dress and make up should be appropriate for certain age not copying adult performers. Before entering the competition or any other performance events the dress is discussed with parents to avoid misunderstanding between them and a teacher.
♠Biased opinions. Unfortunately, there are double standards in bellydance, like in many other dance forms. There can be two adults looking at performing children and having completely opposite opinions about it. As any other human beings we perceive belly dance form through our own perception of life. Due to certain beliefs and stigma surrounding belly dance many people feel uncomfortable seeing children performing belly dance choreographies as it gets associated with seduction and early sexuality. Like in any other dance forms belly dance is about movement and exposing it to the audience, where dancers body is a tool of expression. There is no more sexuality in belly dance than in latin dance or ballet. The negative attitude just clearly shows that the dance is an art form which can be read differently by each individual.
♠Wrong teacher choice. Belly dance is form of dance which constantly develops and adapts to social requirements. Because of it, belly dance still have the tendency where people from other dance disciplines try to teach it without any basic knowledge of the style. Choosing the right teacher is as important as in any other dance disciplines. Whether your child will hate it or love it depends from the teacher as well. It is teachers’ job to choose age appropriate music, choreography and style. Dance teachers should be qualified to work with kids and have necessary subject knowledge. Many teachers will be happy to present their qualifications and other achievements, so do not be afraid to ask for it. Of course, not only diplomas and certificates matter- it is important to get right personality of the teacher as well.
Basic dance moves (basic technique)
Exercise for : arms, legs, turns or any other elements that require additional attention
Learning/ repeating a choreography
Short rhythmic games are used within the class. Games are chosen appropriate to the age to develop group awareness and musicality. In advanced groups children are encouraged to improvise or to perform learned routine to each other to learn to appreciate performance of other people and overcome a stage fright.
Our bellydance studio has local performance 1-2 times a year where all family members can come and support little dancer. Students will be encouraged to have a simple group dress for the performance.
It is common practice to divide groups according to their abilities and age after they gained the basic training. There will be girls who would like to perform and participate in haflas, competitions and other appropriate parties. It can be done within a group or solo. Usually the group of dancers (performance group) have their own costumes and choreographies created especially for them. Additional training hours may be added to their schedule.
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There are several negative aspects which influence the appearance of child belly dance: Example of a class structure Development possibilities
Example of a class structure Development possibilities