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[media-credit name="Michael James" align="alignleft" width="174"][/media-credit]When it comes to toning the body, physical control and awareness is an important area. GIT FIT offers a weekly belly dancing class that is available to anyone affiliated with Tech, from undergraduate students to graduate students, faculty and alumni.

As well as learning basic moves and a choreographed dance, the students also find out about the unique background and history of belly dancing.

Belly dancing is a Middle Eastern dance that, contrary to its name, utilizes all parts of the body in addition to the abdominal muscles.  Also, though popular belief and Hollywood often claim otherwise, belly dancing is not only a dance form performed by women, but also by men.

The up-and-coming belly dancers participate in the program for a variety of reasons.  Because instructional classes offered by the GIT FIT program are founded on the fitness benefits, the workout aspect is the primary goal of many participants.

“I’m looking to both lose weight and gain flexibility,” said Crystal Wang, an ISyE graduate student.

Many students have very defined goals for their time in the class, and hope to gain more control and awareness from the experience. For members interested in going beyond the basics, several levels of belly dancing are offered through GIT FIT as well.

“I admire the control that belly dancers have over their muscles […and] I’m looking forward to an intermediate belly dancing class that the CRC will hopefully offer in the future,” said Christine Moran, a fourth-year BME grad student.

Belly dancing moves are mostly implemented by isolating body parts and moving them in a way that makes form, posture and muscle control a vital aspect of the dance.  Despite the allusion to abdominal muscle movement in the dance, most of the movement in the dance takes place in the hip and pelvic area.

“Belly dancing combines fun and fitness. I’m looking forward

to learning new dance moves, ” said Gautami Newalker, a third-year CHE graduate student.

Belly dancing is also a good exercise for increasing flexibility and helps prevent osteoporosis.  The dance form also increases strength in the abdominal muscles and the spine.

Although traditional belly dancing costumes have a cropped top and a skirt that are both richly decorated, the belly dancing class recommends wearing a fitted top and yoga pants.  The traditional costume also generally has a belt that goes on the hip, drawing the eye to the swaying motion of the abdomen that is one of the fundamental and easily recognizable moves of the dance.

The instructor for the belly dancing class is a choreographer with extensive experience.  She has expertise in many techniques in addition to belly dancing, and brings all of her knowledge  of dance to her class at Tech.

Belly dancing in the U.S. is usually a fusion of traditional belly dancing techniques and western styles.  It gives dancers greater control over their bodies, tones the body and relieves stress.  Belly dancing is also widely accessible as a form of dance in which people of all ages can participate.

The CRC’s GIT FIT program is offering a class this semester on the basics of belly dancing. For the fall session, the class meets every Wednesday from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in Studio B at the CRC until December 5.