Fitness & Health

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Peer Help Centre offers belly dancing for beginners

Photo credit: Karishma Chopra

The Peer Help Centre usually offers tutoring, essay editing, and presentation critiquing – but recently, they started a ladies-only beginners’ belly dancing class. The class is running twice a week to help students start moving their bodies and swaying their hips.

Mariam Alshammari, the instructor of the class and a master’s student in public and international affairs, has been belly dancing since she was a kid. She said she loves to bring her culture to the class and teach the intimacy of the dance.

The idea started out one day when Alshammari was talking about the fact that working out is sometimes stressful and can be a strain on people’s day.

“Essentially I was chatting with a few people in my program and everyone was stressing with how they don’t have time to work out,” she said.  “So, we were kidding around about the idea of how we can just dance. People really liked the idea. I said why not, it’s a healthy body and healthy mind initiative. That’s the angle I took.”

Alshammari sat down with some people at work and starting talking about the idea of beginning a dance class.

Alshammari found out she could rent the dance studio and set it up two days a week to start the  class. It began only with a few ladies from her program but once she opened it up to the wider community on campus, she got a lot more people coming out and giving feedback.

“A lot of people said they don’t like to work out, but they like to dance.” said Alshammari.

For Alshammari, two important aspects of the class are teaching the culture of belly dancing and the fact that it is geared towards women only.

“It’s really great having it as a ladies event, because it’s good for those women who feel uncomfortable going to the gym,” she said. “You can just dance and have fun, and not worry about what you look like because everyone’s a beginner.”

Alshammari also likes that it shows her culture.

“In the Middle East it’s a very intimate dance, and it’s meant to be between the women. I am teaching a more fun belly dancing.”  f