Susquehanna’s Belly Dance Circle will perform their “Hafla” event in Weber Chapel on Saturday, April 23 at 1 p.m.
The Belly Dance Circle is comprised of members of three skill levels, with the highest level traveling for some performances.
The group performs twice every school year. The fall performance features music that is “anything but Arabic,” and the spring performance features more traditional music. The performances consist of solos, duets and group dances, including a performance from the senior members.
Senior Melissa Campbell said: “In the spring with Hafla we also give a little farewell to the seniors. We do a senior piece, and then some seniors do senior solos and stuff, so it’s kind of a celebration all around.”
“It’ll be all of us getting to dance with our friends again, because we haven’t danced with them since our first year in level one,” Campbell said. “And then some of us are dancing with the same people we’ve been dancing with [for years], and so it gets us back together for a final dance together.”
Campbell said: “I feel like belly dance is kind of like a second family, so when we’re at practices we can get work done and learn the stuff that we’re trying to learn at the time, but we also have a little bonding session at the end of almost every practice and we just talk about random stuff and bond.”
Though belly dancing is widely recognized, the members believe the dance is often misunderstood. Senior Kelsey Hails said, “People don’t really know what to expect when they come to our performances.”
Campbell said: “[With] a lot of the clubs on campus you experience [them] in everyday life, like the political clubs. Politics are everywhere, whereas belly dance is something that not a lot of people experience, and I don’t think a lot of people really know a lot about [belly dance].”
With belly dancing, the members also hope to take down preconceived notions about the performance that audiences may have.
“It’s harder than it looks,” Hails said. “Some of the things that people do look simple when you’re watching it from the audience, but when you actually break it down and all the movements that the person is doing at the same time, it’s impressive.”
“A lot of people think you can just kind of shimmy and that’s belly dancing,” Campbell said. “It’s a lot of isolation and ab work and leg strength and it’s a lot of hard work.”
The performance also takes on stereotypes about the dance that have been normalized by our society.
“A lot of people have a kind of fantasized view of belly dancing, where you go to a restaurant and Middle Eastern girls with costumes on are dancing around, but the reality is not so fantasized,” Campbell said.
“In some countries it’s frowned upon to belly dance, so I don’t think people really know about the culture as much they have an Americanized view of the [stereotype].”
Campbell also said belly dance can help members with their personal self-image.
“I am a huge advocate for loving yourself and body image and getting more comfortable with yourself,” Campbell said. “I’ve grown so much and gotten so much confidence from belly dance.”