They sway to and fro

Marlayna Wright, Contributing Writer

Flashy scarves, enchanting body movements and worldly music can all be found at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

Belly dancing has been a part of the Community Enrichment Course program at the university since fall 2011. Although belly dancing has been used as a form of art in countries such as India and Egypt, it’s being used as a form of exercise and a way to clear the mind at UPJ.

Instructor Adriann White said belly dancing is a class like no other.

“Using short dance and movement combinations, we’ll enjoy some terrific exercise moving, swaying and dancing to the sounds of exotic music.”

White teaches yoga at the university as well but says belly dancing is different because the idea of it is to learn something about a part of the world that may have negative connotations, such as the Middle East. She also said belly dancing is an art form rather than a sex appeal form.

“It was harder than it looked,” Pitt-Johnstown Student Amy Emett said. Emett was attempting the class for the first time Jan. 24 and was the only student out of a usual five students there.

White also said that no men attend the class, which struck her as odd because it is common in the Middle East for males to take part in this cultural dance.

Though this class is offered 8:15 to 9:15 p.m. every Thursday, sign ups are not required, so the number of people in the class can vary from week to week. On a good night, around five or more female students show up for the class.

“I wanted to take it up because I thought I knew what I was doing, but, when I got there, I realized I had no idea,” Pitt-Johnstown Junior Shawnkeela Hawkins said.

Hawkins said she has been to the class several times and enjoys going because the class is mentally and physically rewarding.

“People call it belly dance, but you’re working your entire body and learning about a whole new culture,” White says.