Belly Dance Club gears up for its first showcase of the year

GVL / Archive
The GVSU Belly Dance club performing at A Night of Belly Dance earlier this year.

GVL / Archive The GVSU Belly Dance club performing at A Night of Belly Dance earlier this year.

Erika Collin

Grand Valley State University’s Belly Dance Club is out to prove that belly dancing transcends traditional mediums. The club doesn’t just dance to traditional belly dance music with signature, strong drum beats; members also keep their moves fresh by dancing to music by artists like AWOLNATION and Mumford and Sons.

“(We dance to) anything and everything,” club secretary Erin VandenBerg said. “It’s just a great way to get some cultural information about a dance that no one knows anything about. And it develops your skills in an area that you probably never even considered.”

The Belly Dance Club is free to all students and currently has 80 active members. This is its seventh year on campus.

The dancers meet in the Kelly Family Sports Center or other places on campus to practice, and their work throughout the semester will culminate in a free performance: the Belly Dance Club Presents Winter Festival.

The showcase will take place Dec. 6 in the Grand River Room of the Kirkhof Center at 7 p.m. The hour-and-a-half performance will also feature other performing clubs on campus, such as Sabrosisimo, Capoeira Mandinga, Kpop Group Evolution and the Swing Dance Club.

“People think you have to have a dance background to be able to belly dance, but this is entirely untrue,” club president Etana Allard said. “No dance background is needed at all. We teach you everything you need to know.”

This cultural performance club has a group of dancers called the “main group,” who are required to try out for a spot. After main group dancers have been determined, the club then recruits the rest of its members. Those members are eventually divided up into “pods” of groups ranging from 10 to 20 people. Within each pod, the dancers learn separate dances while being instructed by a pod leader. Each pod will showcase its dance during the Winter Festival.

The Belly Dance club not only allows GVSU students to be a part of and view interesting cultural performances, but it is also meant to provide them with a fun way to exercise.

“We teach you how to isolate your body, and it’s a great workout,” Allard said. “We focus on certain skills and strategies toward enhancing the students’ dance abilities. The mission of the club is to provide students a challenging yet exciting environment covering techniques concerning belly dancing.”

Interest in the club has grown over the past few years, and because of that, the club is allowing new members to join at the beginning of the winter semester.

“This year we’re trying something different because we’ve had so many people that have wanted to join after the semester started that we are going to try to start up a whole new pod at the beginning of second semester,” VandenBerg said.

The pod will join “main group” to learn a dance, which will be showcased at the March performance.

“It’s a great opportunity to learn something completely new and different and make tons of friends,” VandenBerg said. “You have the ability to express yourself in a way that you wouldn’t have thought you’d be able to express yourself in before. It’s very inspirational. It makes you feel empowered.”