Belly dancing in Jesmond
As part of Jesmond Community Festival, Northumbria University Dance Society held a free dance workshop, featuring Latin, Street and Belly Dancing.
The class was made up of students from Northumbria’s Dance Society and residents of Jesmond, creating a fun, high- energy atmosphere throughout the three hours. Sarah Acheson, who took part in the workshops, said: “I’ve been dancing since I was young, but even though this is basic stuff, I’ve really enjoyed it. These classes are for people who are starting, it’s very much a beginners level class. Anyone could do it.”
Although the idea was for people to attend the class they were interested in, everyone who came along decided to stay for all three.
During the Latin Dance workshop, the group learned a simple Latin- style routine to perform at the end. No- one took it too seriously – there was plenty of talking and laughing and it was clear the class was enjoyed by everyone, the better dancers helping the more inexperienced.
When the group was asked if anyone had done belly dancing before, the answer was a resounding “No”, but by the end of the hour, men and women alike were “shimmying” like Shakira. Unlike a conventional dance class, the dancers stood in two circles around the teacher. They were then taught how to move their arms, hands and hips in the traditional belly dancing style. Rather than learning a routine, the dancers were taught several different movements and then asked to put them together in their own way.
The street dancing was clearly the speciality of some of the students, some of them being semi-professional dancers, and they enjoyed “free-styling” in between the taught classes. During the class they were taught a series of “street” moves and these were put together into a routine at the end, ready for a short performance at the end of the day.
It was clear the classes were enjoyed by all who took part, the more accomplished dancers enjoyed helping out and showing off, and the inexperienced gaining new skills in a friendly and helpful environment.