Why Should Girls Belly Dance?

In its countries of origin, oriental dance (belly dance) is a wholesome family social dance according to Shira (www.shira.net). In the Middle East, young girls are not “taught” how to dance in lessons, but rather learn the dance from participating with female relatives during festive occasions. A Middle Eastern girl would not dance as a performance for strangers or men; however she could dance for female family members, neighbors and friends.

In the West, young girls are encouraged to take ballet, jazz, gymnastics and other forms of “performance” dance or sports. Belly dance is a particularly empowering form of dance having arisen from centuries of female ritual and tradition. Young women learn to celebrate their bodies (no matter what the shape or size) as a means for self expression and awareness.

There are several obvious benefits for girls of taking belly dance:

  1. Belly dance is FUN!
  2. Belly dance is good exercise.
  3. Belly dance is a form of exercise that promotes muscle strength, flexibility and cardio-vascular health.
  4. Belly dance promotes positive self esteem and body image.
  5. In our Western culture, girls are bombarded with messages about the “ideal” body. Most of us don’t have that culturally defined “ideal.” Belly dance celebrates girls and women of all sizes, shapes, and “looks.”
  6. Belly dance provides social opportunities.
  7. Girls have an opportunity to make friends with others in an affirming environment with a common interest.
  8. Belly dance enhances cultural awareness.
  9. “Learning a dance from another country may help influence how a young girl views that country.” (Shira)
  10. Belly dance introduces young girls to performance skills.
  11. Girls learn how to present themselves for performing including skills such as having good posture, holding their head up, and being comfortable in front of an audience.