How I Started a
in High School
curtains rising, the lights blinding, the anxious crowds are all
something I am very familiar with. The music begins and I spin
onto the stage with a smile on my face and an indescribable energy
that has taken over my body. The art of bellydance is what
I like to call it.
can’t remember a time in my life when bellydance wasn’t a part
of it. There was only one downfall to being a bellydancer at a
never seemed to be anyone else my age who shared my love of
dance to such a degree, which caused me to lose interest in
the dance at different times.
idea beings to form-
I started high school, an all-girl’s Catholic school, my counselor
actually loved the fact that I was a bellydancer and I guess she
brought up the idea that I should start a bellydance club at school. The
school already had other dance clubs like Jazz, Ballet, and even
cheerleading that fell under the same category.
basically just laughed at the idea and never did anything about
it. However, by the time my junior year rolled around, I
was consumed by bellydance and wanted to share my love for it
with the world. That is when I decided that I had to start with
my high school right away.
I look back, I think I was tired of being the only teenager at
bellydancing events. I decided it was time to listen to
my counselor and start a bellydance club at school.
I brought the idea to the activities director and to my surprise
with just a little effort and pleading on my part, he okayed it.
I needed to prove that there would be an interest and I was really
nervous. I expected hardly anyone to show up at the first meeting. I
was shocked when over 40 girls showed up and were very excited
about the whole idea. So I was able to prove interest.
Now all we needed was a place to practice. The dance studio was
never free between the existing dance teams and cheerleading practices. So
our principle told us we could practice in the cafeteria. That
did not work out very well. Then we were told to practice on the
stage in the gym. That seemed like a great idea until we discovered
that we couldn’t hear our music during volleyball practice.
when the idea started to look really gloomy, we found a deserted
classroom, which we quickly claimed as our own, and that is where
we have practiced ever since.
started out with the 40 girls, but various school conflicts and
obligations dwindled our number, so by the time of our first performance
the club had shrunk to about 12 girls. I know some people
might be disappointed when that happens, but I can honestly say
it made it much easier on me, especially when it came to choreographing
began spreading around school about our Bellydance Club, and most
of the other dance teams were anticipating our failure. I believe
it was the very idea that we might fail that made us work even
harder than we probably would have ordinarily.
first club performance-
When the school finally saw us perform, the other students, teachers,
and parents didn’t know what to think. Some claimed
that bellydance in general is too seductive for young girls. Others
said that they thought our bellydance show was great.
Was it the moves, the costumes or the pre-conceived idea that
some people had that made them think the dance was not for young
girls? We had a video of the show and watched it. I needed
to see if there was anything we did that might jeopardize our
future in the school as a Bellydance Club. We dressed as
conservatively as anyone else on the other dance teams. Our dance
moves were not seductive, but we were after all a Bellydance Club
in a Catholic girls’ high school.
order not to offend anyone in any way shape or form, we made some
minor modifications to our costume attire (making them more like
Jazz tops and pants with some coins sewn on them and less like
bellydance cabaret). With our new costumes we performed the same
dance at the next school event, and this time everyone loved us. We
even heard parents and teachers say that we were more enjoyable
and together than the other dance teams. This made me extremely
proud because we were finally accepted as a real dance team and
a real club.
As the year went on, we became more and more comfortable with
our team and our performances. However, we needed to see if we
were really good or if the parents and teachers just got used
the Bellydance Club decided that it was time to be in a real
dance competition. We began to prepare for the Desert Fire
2006 competition here in El Paso.
also winning 2nd place in fusion category
hours and dedication the girls put in was incredible. We practiced
almost every day – between exams and classes and extra curricular
activities. We decided to perform quite a combination of styles
for this choreography which included some modern bellydance moves,
a little Bollywood right out of the movies, and a nice, more traditional
style to a beautiful slow Arabic piece.
am thrilled to say that it all thankfully paid off and we won
first place!! Our first trophy – something to take back and
put on the mantel at the Loretto Catholic Girls’ High School.
Imagine us winning a first place trophy for the Bellydance Club.
I was in complete shock because I knew that we were up against
some great bellydance troupes. I’m just glad that the rest
of our team didn’t know that or they might have panicked.
the Desert Fire 2006 show that night, we did a dance to “Pon Da
Replay,” adding some hip hop and jazz to our performance. By
their response, I know the audience loved it as much as we loved
only 16 years old, I have been told by many dancers that what
I have done with this team is incredible. I honestly had thought
nothing of it. I love dancing and choreographing, and I simply
wanted to share my passion for dance with girls my own age.
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