Child Belly Dancers

Children Belly Dancing: Yay or Nay?

  • Absolutely Fine!

    Votes: 15 23.8%
  • No Way!

    Votes: 3 4.8%
  • Sure in the Right Conditions.

    Votes: 45 71.4%

  • Total voters
    63

Tarik Sultan

New member
Belly dancing is fine for children if they dress modestly and are protected by the adults in their life. I do not believe that belly dance is a sexual dance, so people of any age can belly dance.
You're absolutely right. The thing is because we weren't raised in the culture we either forget or don't realize that professional dancers only represent less than 1% of the dancing that happens. The overhelming majority of dance activity happens in family gatherings and children quite often are the focus of the attention. I think anyone who has objections to children participating in the dance in classes,recitals or parties should be made aware of this fact.


 

Ariadne

Well-known member
I just stumbled on this video on youtube and since I didn't remember seeing it here....



Dresses appropriately, check. Having the time of her life, check!
 

Lara

New member
I have really enjoyed watching all the various clips posted & thought I'd throw in my 2 pennies worth-

For my own children, it's not a matter of teaching. They do what I do, and I have *always* made it a policy, since before I had kids, to never do in public what I would be ashamed to see my children do in public. My almost 2 year old loves to dance, and I will never forget the day my now-6yo, then 3yo shimmied her way to the bathroom when I asked her to brush her teeth. It was one of those "you know your mom's a belly dancer when" moments. My boys are older and have been begging for a chance to get on the stage, but the opportunity hasn't presented itself in an environment I am comfortable with at this point. They love going to haflas, but only if there is going to be an open dance floor where they can bust a move.

Some young dancers I have seen I have been uncomfortable with their dancing for the same reason I am uncomfortable with certain adults dancing: they look like they are trying to hard. They haven't internalized the dance & made it their own yet. I don't think that's the case with any of the clips posted here, and I enjoyed every one of them, yes, even the ones with the bra top & thigh high slit.
Those clips, on the other hand, did bring up a question for me. What are we calling "kids" for this discussion? For me, the pre-teen/early teen is a class all on it's own, not really kids but not really adults either, and I wonder if that is what is really pushing some of the discomfort here. They look like mini adults because they *are* mini adults. They *are* starting to grow accustomed to concepts of their own sexuality, and we, as parents & adults aren't comfortable with who they are right now. We don't *have* a magic ritual that says "okay, you are an adult now, you can do xyz but not abc anymore." When is it okay for a woman to start wearing a bra style costume? In what context (hafla, safe for-dancer & dancer friendly shows, theatrical productions at a distance from the audience, restaurant dancing, etc.)
-btw, my husband says *never* and I'm slowly converting my dance wardrobe! A dancer in the next town over gave her her first bedlah at 16 as it's own rite of passage- I thought it was beautiful in the context of that mother/daughter relationship, but it would not fly in my household.

Personally, at that stage of life, I would *rather* they have a little guidance from a good teacher. In an ideal world, I'd also like to live in a place where social dancing in family/community settings is the norm and we don't have to go dance classes or special haflas to dance & have fun. I can not understand why people go to concerts and sit so darn still- like we're killing part of the soul to be good, polite box-at-the-opera sophisticates instead of letting the experience move us (literally!) Give me a live band & a dance floor any day! Part of why I do perform, I think, is that there *IS* no safe, social dance scene here. Some of us just have to dance, and it will find an outlet one way or another. I think kids NEED the opportunity to dance, and if that only opportunity is in a class, get them over there already! and start them young!
 

AndreaSTL

New member
I just stumbled on this video on youtube and since I didn't remember seeing it here....



Dresses appropriately, check. Having the time of her life, check!
So freakin' cute - thanks for sharing this! I love her multiple bows and running off at the end with her arms flailing about. Adorable!
 

Tarik Sultan

New member
I have really enjoyed watching all the various clips posted & thought I'd throw in my 2 pennies worth-

For my own children, it's not a matter of teaching. They do what I do, and I have *always* made it a policy, since before I had kids, to never do in public what I would be ashamed to see my children do in public. My almost 2 year old loves to dance, and I will never forget the day my now-6yo, then 3yo shimmied her way to the bathroom when I asked her to brush her teeth. It was one of those "you know your mom's a belly dancer when" moments. My boys are older and have been begging for a chance to get on the stage, but the opportunity hasn't presented itself in an environment I am comfortable with at this point. They love going to haflas, but only if there is going to be an open dance floor where they can bust a move.

Some young dancers I have seen I have been uncomfortable with their dancing for the same reason I am uncomfortable with certain adults dancing: they look like they are trying to hard. They haven't internalized the dance & made it their own yet. I don't think that's the case with any of the clips posted here, and I enjoyed every one of them, yes, even the ones with the bra top & thigh high slit.
Those clips, on the other hand, did bring up a question for me. What are we calling "kids" for this discussion? For me, the pre-teen/early teen is a class all on it's own, not really kids but not really adults either, and I wonder if that is what is really pushing some of the discomfort here. They look like mini adults because they *are* mini adults. They *are* starting to grow accustomed to concepts of their own sexuality, and we, as parents & adults aren't comfortable with who they are right now. We don't *have* a magic ritual that says "okay, you are an adult now, you can do xyz but not abc anymore." When is it okay for a woman to start wearing a bra style costume? In what context (hafla, safe for-dancer & dancer friendly shows, theatrical productions at a distance from the audience, restaurant dancing, etc.)
-btw, my husband says *never* and I'm slowly converting my dance wardrobe! A dancer in the next town over gave her her first bedlah at 16 as it's own rite of passage- I thought it was beautiful in the context of that mother/daughter relationship, but it would not fly in my household.

Personally, at that stage of life, I would *rather* they have a little guidance from a good teacher. In an ideal world, I'd also like to live in a place where social dancing in family/community settings is the norm and we don't have to go dance classes or special haflas to dance & have fun. I can not understand why people go to concerts and sit so darn still- like we're killing part of the soul to be good, polite box-at-the-opera sophisticates instead of letting the experience move us (literally!) Give me a live band & a dance floor any day! Part of why I do perform, I think, is that there *IS* no safe, social dance scene here. Some of us just have to dance, and it will find an outlet one way or another. I think kids NEED the opportunity to dance, and if that only opportunity is in a class, get them over there already! and start them young!
You raised some very good points. Its a shame there are no social dance opportunities where you are. Guess there's not that big a Lebanese or Egyptian community in Alaska:( That would be perfect. Especially if you had a friend and could get invited to weddings. On the other hand, maybe you could for a club geared more towards that sort of thing. I do think that unfortunately we do tend to focus too much on the performance aspect. I do really love sitting back and watching the regular folk dance. To me it has a charm you can't create on stage.

So back to the subject, what do you all think of this?

First time I saw this I was taken a back slightly, but the context was that she was immitating Samia Gamal. I'm I feel there will be many valid points raised and I want the opportunity to learn through your eyes.
 

Ariadne

Well-known member
Knowing who she is and what the context is I don't have a problem with it. Even though she does a credible imitation of Samia Gamal they didn't "sex it up" and the parody was brilliant. Now if a girl that age who wasn't a "Shirley Temple", and wasn't doing a parody, dressed like that to perform I would seriously wonder what her guardian was thinking.

Context is everything.
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
I still wonder what her guardian was thinking. Dressing a child in her mother's bedlah and sending her out to dance a grown woman's dance does not appeal to me. If she wants to parody Samia, Samia wore some costumes that would have been more appropriate for a girl this age.

(Stuffy grumpy old Shanazel settles back into her rocker, still shaking her head over stage mothers and their daughters.)
 

LunaXJJ

New member
Don't think I mentioned this in my opening post, but I agree that the audience would matter too. If I had a kid I wouldn't want him/her dancing publicly at a young age. If they performed, it'd be for friends, and family, not a bunch of random people where there could be some pervert watching her the whole time. People often think of child performers as easy prey though, and forget that you should keep an eye out for people like that no matter where your kid is, or what s/he's doing.

I also wanted to add, I probably wouldn't even technically "teach" her. It'd be more of monkey see, monkey do. Kids like to dance, and wiggle, and they're likely to imitate the people they see when it comes to dance. All I'd be doing is dancing myself, while s/he just started boogying too. :) I see all kinds of really young kids just shaking it to the music. My cousins daughter was less than two I believe, and she would just bounce up and down when she heard a beat she liked. If people worry about a child shaking his/her butt or chest, how will the kid have any fun dancing? Our torso and hips are kind of the main part of our bodies after all. Its all about the people watching. While a pedophile will see it in a sexual light no matter what, friends, family, etc typically won't see it that way.
 

Amulya

Moderator
Strange, Fairouz kind of doesn't look like a child in that clip. Maybe the costume does that, too adult for her age. I wonder if it had been a ballet clip of a kid the same age what people would think.
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
Depends on whether she was doing dance of the snowflakes or a very sensual duet from one of the romantic ballets. Depends on whether she was wearing a nice modest bodice and floaty skirt/tutu or one of those all-but-nude body stockings.

(By the way, I think her parody of Samia was perfect.)
 

RahimaMJR

New member
Wow...so much to go through here...

First of all, I don't think any one mentioned yet Shira's take on it, you can find it in the Dear Shira section of her site: Dear Shira: Should Young Girls Belly Dance?

And she makes some good points, namely that although belly dance was originally a social and pretty much innocent art form, the movements can be interpreted as something else...which brings us to the perception vs. intention debate. I think we can argue all we want that bd should not be seen as sexual or even feminine (in the case of male dancers), however, can we really control the preconceived notions of our audiences?

The other thing that I thought about, which Shira also mentions, is the difference between dancing and performing. I think that's what made those mini adult girls give off an unsettling impression, because they were performing like adult women (someone else also mentioned this). The clip that Yame gave, to me, looked more like a young girl focusing on her dancing, and not so much performing to a crowd, IMO.

When I was a kid, there was a girl who did belly dancing (probably third grade age). Her mom also danced with a local troupe and occasionally, the girl would do a performance for a talent show and the like. I remember as a kid feeling very uncomfortable with her movements and costuming (not a bra, but showing her stomach). Not saying this was an enlightened or accepting view, just a kid's viewpoint.

On the other side, I think it's great to learn to dance, learn about your body and how to control it, embrace other cultures, and all the other many benefits of learning bd or any other dance, for that matter.
 

RahimaMJR

New member
Found some videos that I thought interestingly show the differences in types of children belly dancers:





(wish I knew what the voice-over was saying!)
 
First of all, I don't think any one mentioned yet Shira's take on it, you can find it in the Dear Shira section of her site: Dear Shira: Should Young Girls Belly Dance?

And she makes some good points, namely that although belly dance was originally a social and pretty much innocent art form, the movements can be interpreted as something else...which brings us to the perception vs. intention debate. I think we can argue all we want that bd should not be seen as sexual or even feminine (in the case of male dancers), however, can we really control the preconceived notions of our audiences?
I think that's the whole point. I used to go to the same bd school as a mother and daughter. The daughter, at 11, was a natural - marvellous hip movements and great musicality. In class, I never gave it a second thought - but when we started performing together at community fairs, it did start to concern me. At 11 years old, she was just old enough to be starting to develop, yet she was completely unconscious of how sexy some of her moves were. Perhaps because she was learning with adults, she had a very adult style and I couldn't help worrying what some of audience must be thinking.

I think it's great for children to learn belly dance - I especially liked my teacher's policy of allowing children to come to class with their mothers - but performing in public is something else, and if they do, choreography and costuming need careful consideration.
 

LuLu

New member
Its sad that it has come to this where our culture views belly dance as adult and sexually innapropriate but allows and finds it acceptable to allow our children to dress like hookers on Halloween and at school dances and such. And glorifies infidelity and promiscuity. Seems ass backwards to me. But I do believe in appropriate costumes and choreography for the ages. I've even seen some adults dress and dance inappropriately like somthig out of a strip club rather than actual belly dance. Then people get the common misconceptions from it.
 

LunaXJJ

New member
Its sad that it has come to this where our culture views belly dance as adult and sexually innapropriate but allows and finds it acceptable to allow our children to dress like hookers on Halloween and at school dances and such. And glorifies infidelity and promiscuity. Seems ass backwards to me. But I do believe in appropriate costumes and choreography for the ages. I've even seen some adults dress and dance inappropriately like somthig out of a strip club rather than actual belly dance. Then people get the common misconceptions from it.
This.:(
 

Empyreus

New member


I just saw someone post this today and felt mixed feelings about it. It was interesting to read the comments in this thread. I thought the little girl very talented but I just didn't think her costume appropriate. Although a bare stomach shows off more of the movements, in my opinion I think it best for children to wear clothes with more coverage. I think then I will have no problem with children learning belly dance.
 

Ariadne

Well-known member
Awwww, that's the "pretty princess" of costumes. I will agree that another inch or two of fabric on the top would be preferred but that's a little girl playing dress up if I ever saw it. Her dancing is precocious instead of "little adult" too.


Same routine on stage:
 

Darshiva

Moderator
She's really sweet, her dancing is awesome and her costume is fairly sedate for kids costumes. I agree about the top though, it could have been longer for my comfort too.
 

jjj

New member
She's a beautiful little princess. Loved everything from head to toes to her wonderful little dance. I would be more worried of a teen wearing this outfit than this young girl .

Perverts see what they imagine no matter what the kids/teens wear.
 
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