By Gabriel Monte: Freedom New Mexico
A rhythmic jingling sound like coins in a pocket bounced around the walls of the dance studio.
Wearing belts beaded with coins, women of all ages flutter their hips in concert with the Middle Eastern song filtering through the room.
Belly dancing is one of the popular health and physical education classes offered at Clovis Community College.
“It involves a lot of thinking and coordination. It’s not just mindless movement,” belly dancing instructor Lorelei Taylor said. “It does work your body. It tones your body, and it’s particularly good for the waist, the middle part of the body, the tummy.”
The belly dancing class has been offered at CCC since 2000 and is increasing in popularity, according to Taylor.
CCC sophomore Juana Garcia said she is auditing the class, but will enroll next semester for her physical education credit.
“I just looked in the school catalog, I needed a P.E. credit and I didn’t want to take any of those boring P.E. classes,” she said.
Other dance classes offered by the college’s health and fitness department include ballroom and line dancing.
About 30 women are enrolled in the belly dancing class, which meets for two hours one day a week this semester. The class is only available to women.
“Women find it a wonderful way to have some exercise. They enjoy each other’s company,” Taylor said.
Not only is the dance a good aerobic workout, it also gives women confidence about their bodies, which is what appeals to them, Taylor said.
“Everybody’s so fixated and unhappy because they have to have this skinny body,” she said. “And it’s not necessary for belly dance. The more curves you have the better you look.”
A choreographer, Taylor said she teaches a different style of belly dancing at every class, from European cabaret to the tribal style of Middle Eastern belly dance.
Jeanette Hattan said the class gives her a sense of empowerment. Hattan said she doesn’t attend other classes at CCC.
“It’s really liberating,” she said. “It’s also a great way to be involved in women energy.”
Clovis Community college student Danita Zamiga said she likes belly dancing because it involves different moves than contemporary dances in clubs.
“I used to go clubbing and dance,” said Zamiga who also takes Taylor’s yoga class. “I ventured out ‘cause it started to get kind of boring.”
Taylor also teaches belly dancing at ENMU but is leaving the university for the college because of the variety of women that attend it.
“I like the classes up here, because it’s not just the young college people, it’s women of all ages,” she said. “It’s good for them to get out of the house, get away from the kids, boyfriends or husbands or whoever, and have fun.”