Belly dance is relegated to recreation centers and physical education departments. It is considered a group exercise, equivalent to Zumba, aerobics, step and the like. As such, belly dance instructors are to be certified as Group X and more instructors. They must deal with the jock mentality where it is viewed as an exercise and not an artistic pursuit.
Yes, belly dance has cardio, aerobic, isometric benefits and more. It can be considered a form of exercise. So can ballet, modern, tap, Flamenco, ballroom and the like. These dance forms, however are found in dance departments and not in the gym.
Are dance instructors told to make their dance classes aerobically intense, require tennis shoes and create an atmosphere of constant motion? Are they supposed to lose all artistic pursuit in the name of jump and sweat?
Belly dance is an art form. It is a graceful art form with classic arms, slow isolations, footwork, floor work and props. Yes, it has shimmies and such but an important part of our dance is slow and sensuous. Jocks don’t get it. They also like classes that are jam- packed. I was told that one has to have forty or more students to be considered a successful Group X instructor!
My point? I want to see dance accepted in the dance departments of community colleges, colleges, universities and other educational venues. I want to see it out of recreation centers and gyms. I want to see dance studios accept belly dance as part of their curriculum as well.
Just because a belly dancer does not hold a BA, MA or PhD in dance does not make her inept. Belly dance is a folk dance that has been handed down generationally. Dancers have taught dancers for centuries. The academic world must accept this. A belly dancer need not be a ballerina or modern dancer to be a talented performer and instructor.
What will it take for belly dance and belly dance instructors to be accepted as a legitimate dance form taught in legitimate venues?
I have been trying to do my part by instructing only under the heading of Dance and by writing about our dance.
What part can you play?