Belly dancing lessons can provide challenging, unique opportunities

Credit: Adelaide Cole/Art Editor Credit: Adelaide Cole/Art Editor
Editorials featured in the Forum section are solely the opinions of their individual authors.

Opportunities are forks in the road of life. They act as pathways to new experiences and trials that can shape our character.
Our responses to these opportunities make all the difference in the world.

None of this came to mind when I saw an Activities Board poster publicizing a belly dancing workshop in the University Center.

When you think of a belly dancer, I’m sure you usually think of a woman whose stomach is as flat as a washboard. In contrast, I have the physique of a teddy bear, which — when paired with my Y chromosome — makes it rather unusual for me to attempt belly dancing. However, the opportunity to step outside of my comfort zone with few long-term disadvantages piqued my interest. Lest I allow my activities fee to go to waste, I decided to try something new. I decided to belly dance.

I regretted this decision as soon as I walked into Rangos Hall. Besides the DJ, I was the only male present (although another guy arrived later). The gender ratio was obviously skewed in favor of the women. This granted me a few unusual looks from the girls there, which didn’t ease the situation. Look at me, complaining about too many women at a Carnegie Mellon event.

The class began with us meeting our instructor, Amethyst, and observing her belly dancing performance to music seemingly ripped from the desert level of every video game. We formed lines to start learning techniques, and as Amethyst discussed the idiosyncrasies of “tribal fusion” belly dancing, the feeling that there was no turning back started to sink in.

While the initial techniques and poses weren’t too taxing (not assuming I was executing them flawlessly), the balance and body contortions required for the later moves were beyond me. But somewhere between performing vertical figure-eights with my hips and doing sensual grapevines across the floor, my fears about the ridiculousness of the situation disappeared.

For the rest of the lesson, I was only acutely aware of my inability to dance, and the gender issue became nonexistent. I started to revel in the music, and I was surprised by how fast the lesson ended. I left, not inspired to pursue belly dancing any further, but nonetheless with my head held high.

As college students, we are tested constantly. Our professors push us to reach our academic potential, and our friends influence us to join certain groups or activities, but it is more difficult to gauge how we influence ourselves.

Challenging yourself is a way to break out of a mold that starts to form from doing what is comfortable. Comfort can often breed a contentedness that limits potential. By challenging yourself, you can reach that potential and learn more than any class can teach you.
By challenging myself, I learned that it is hard to find the distinction between “tribal fusion” and “electro fusion” belly dancing. I learned that teddy bears can belly dance.

Most of all, I learned that taking advantage of opportunities that challenge you makes all the difference in the world.