ad 4 Dhy & Karen

Gilded Serpent presents...
How I Started a
Bellydance Club
in High School
by Shazadi

The 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.

I 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 young age.

There 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.

The idea beings to form-
When 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.

I 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.

When 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.

Her presentation-
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.

Her venue-
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.

Just 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.

We 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 routines.

Rumors 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.

The 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.

The analysis-
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. 

In 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.

The test-
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 to us. 

So 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.

Author also winning 2nd place in fusion category

The 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.

I 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. 

Actually 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. 

For 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 performing it.

Being 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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