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SU student uses belly dance to de-stress, express herself

The artful Middle Eastern tradition has spread across the globe, reaching Syracuse's campus via international students.

For many, “belly-dancing” brings to mind an image of tall, Middle Eastern women undulating and twitching their hips in bars or on stages to seduce men.

Well, that stereotype has grown stale. Today, the belly dance has been adopted by nations all over the world, and is seen as more of an art form than as entertainment. In fact, it has become a favorite among the youth in the world's most populated country: China.

Photo: Farhad Peikar
Meng follows the Turkish style of belly dancing, which is performed at a faster pace and requires more upper body movements than other styles.

Interactive: The world of belly dancing

Syracuse University psychology junior Shuangzhu Meng practiced belly dancing at a studio in Beijing when she was in high school and now performs for student events on the SU campus.

While many dancers still shimmy and shake to seduce men, Meng says that belly dancing is more about passion and learning about different cultures. 

Meng uses belly dancing as a form of creative expression. “Belly dancing for me is about passion and showing your dance moves,” she said before performing at Music Beyond Borders Festival, a musical event organized by SU’s Slutsker Center on Nov. 14.

While dancing, Meng feels appreciated by others while simultaneously feeling good about herself. “Dance is a way to show that you are confident,” she said.

Like any other physical exercise, it also helps burn calories, and Meng says that, for her, dancing is a good way to release stress.

Of the 56 ethnic groups of China, all have their own unique style of dance, and, progressively, belly dancing has begun to take its place among these ancient dance forms, captivating Chinese audiences.

Girls are not alone in the quest to learn the seemingly seductive moves; boys in China are equally receptive of the new dance and have joined studios in major cities.

The world of belly dancing

Select hotspots on the photo below to find photos, videos and more about the exotic dance form.

Photo & Interactive: Farhad Peikar

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