Is Belly Dancing suitable for children?

By Bellydanceplanner - September 16, 2019

Is Belly Dancing suitable for children?

Dance has everything to do with being observed. You are performing refined and graceful movements that are to be appreciated by a public (be it small or massive), and for that same reason, it's not unheard of parents worrying about their children getting suggestive stares, and asking themselves if they should really enroll their children in Belly Dancing classes.

Belly dancing has been evolving in different styles, costumes, and dancing based on the culture of different countries; and during the past decades as more and more people become interested in this dance form. It also is mistakenly taken as a dance designed for sensuality and seduction; a very popular misconception that has been around for a long time. It should be noted that Belly Dancing is not just moving the belly and shaking the hips in mesmerizing clothing. It requires whole-body movements. This dance form is perfect for children since it helps them develop and maintain a good body posture and shape from the very beginning.  

The sexualization of Belly Dancing is something more typical of American and Western cultures. In the Middle Eastern countries, girls are not taught to do belly dance, as they don't even have classes like Europe and America. The notion of belly dance classes is foreign to them. Leila Haddad, a famous belly dancer, once commented that her family in Tunisia thought that making a living with teaching people to dance was absolutely strange. In the Middle East, belly dancing is just another form of entertainment. During family gatherings, women often dance with other women and man dance with other men. That's their tradition. Women don't teach their girls to “dance to seduce”; they actually watch their mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and cousins dancing with each other and imitate what they see. 

So, “what about the suggestive clothing and costumes during performances?” that's also a common question that parents have. There shouldn't be any problem with children performing this dance in public. Instead of sequined bras and costumes that expose the upper body, teachers can use folkloric costumes on children (like dresses, tunics and Egyptian-styled pants), and often, their entire legs are covered by long skirts. They can also use cholis to cover the chest area while still being able to show abdominal control. In fact, belly dancing children show even less skin than those on ballet, for example. The Ballet costume consists of leotards, nude thighs and very short tutus (it's not a bad thing since the movements and choreography require that type of clothing, but it's good to put things in perspective, too). 
Belly dancing is fun to learn, and children can gain health benefits from it, such as improved posture, muscle tone, building concentration and maintaining a healthy weight, to name just a few. They will also learn discipline, focus, and teamwork.  You also give them the chance to become more open and social, as they get to make new friends. Just make sure to find a good teacher with previous experience with children. They will know how to teach them a healthy dance experience, without suggestive poses and with the appropriate attire.

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