MUDRA sets mood with belly dancing workshop

An instructor from Moon Belly Dance Studio taught the class.

The MU Dance and Recreation Association hosted a belly dancing workshop Saturday at Memorial Union, featuring eight participants learning basic techniques and exercises of the popular dance style.

Kandice Grossman, the teacher of the workshop and owner of Moon Belly Dance Studio downtown, emphasized how important belly dancing is for self-esteem as well as health and was excited to teach the class at MU.

Grossman had students work on strengthening and warming up their glutes and lower body during the first half of class. Arm movements, which included snake-like movements and smooth transitions, were emphasized in the second half of class.

Participant Helen Humphreys, who has background in ballroom and Latin dancing, had just tried belly dancing for the first time and enjoyed how good the dance form made her feel physically.

“I’ve been doing dance for two years and I wasn’t interested (in belly dancing),” Humphreys said. “But, a friend told me to come. I learned how to separate my body (while dancing) and it’s good exercise. I may or may not pursue it, I’m just experimenting with it.”

Grossman emphasized the benefit of a bodily connection when people participate in belly dancing.

“There are so many things to learn (in belly dancing),” Grossman said. “It helps you get in touch with your body because there’s movement that takes a lot of mind and body connection.”

Although many of the classical belly dancing techniques are important to her as a teacher, Grossman combines classic moves with modern techniques.

“Overall, it’s an expression of the self,” Grossman said. “I’m experimenting with fusion. I’m doing classic belly dance and fusing it with dance forms of my culture, like jazz and modern dance, (and) it makes it more authentic.”

Aditi Bandyopadhyay, president and instructor of MUDRA, said how important it was for different dance organizations on campus to collaborate with the Indian dance organization to expose more dance styles to the community.

“There are different dance organizations, but they are open to collaborate with us,” Bandyopadhyay said. “We want to build up passion for dance and expose people to different dance styles.”

The organization’s purpose was shown this month at the Columbia Dance Festival, which featured dance forms such as ballet, swing dance and classical dance.

Members of MUDRA do a form of Indian dance style called Odissi, one of the classical forms of dance in India. Footwork and controlled body movements characterize the style and enhance flexibility.

Grossman said belly dancing has a long unwritten history based on movement, but it was said to have started in the North African region. There are other cultures that influence the dance today, but the greatest influence is the migration of gypsies to different parts of the world.

Although belly dancing has many forms, Grossman said the best part of belly dancing is the way it makes participants feel the same level of confidence.

“This is a dance form that makes you feel very beautiful, powerful and strong,” Grossman said.

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