I’ve got to brag a little (or a lot!) here today about how very awesome my college dance troupe, the Yale Belly Dance Society is. If you don’t believe me, read this article in the Yale Daily News about their upcoming show (April 5-6, 2013), 10-year history and past successes in raising money for New Haven’s Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen. It’s not always easy to get good, fair press as a belly dancer (see the many articles with the words “gyrate,” “exotic” or the like in them), and this might be one of the most positive and well-deserved I’ve read. The troupe has come so far from its humble beginnings in 2003.
I don’t know very much about the troupe’s first year, but when I joined as a college freshman in the fall of 2004 and unexpectedly became president to the troupe, I had no idea how important it would be in my life, and what an adventure running the troupe would be over the next four years. From four members that year, we blossomed into dozens, matured into an audition-based group, staged our first gala show in 2006 and became a presence on campus, and later–and most importantly–became a presence in the New Haven community through performances and our very first Hips Against Hunger in 2008. If I remember, that event raised a few hundred dollars; last year’s HAH raised nearly $4000! Since graduation, it’s been such a joy to see the group grow and succeed in so many ways, from greater fundraising to more professional level shows.
Running the troupe wasn’t always easy; we did everything ourselves, from choosing and fitting costumes, to creating choreographies, to managing finances, and sometimes disagreed in the process. It was a lesson not only in dance and culture, but in learning to work with one another and with other groups on campus, and for that, I’m really grateful. Being in YBDS gave us a chance to grow together not only as dancers, but also as people in general. Belly dance was something I was interested in during high school, but it was in college where I became passionate about it, and YBDS had a lot to do with that, as laboratory, performance venue, and sounding board for ideas and interests.
I’m happy to count the ladies of YBDS among my enduring friends, and so proud of everything they’ve accomplished on and off stage over the years!
Buy tickets for HAH or make a donation on the Yale Belly Dance Society website; all proceeds benefit the Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen (DESK) of New Haven.
Friday, April 5 – 9 pm
Saturday***, April 6 – 8 pm
Yale University – Harkness Auditorium
333 Cedar Street, New Haven, CT
***I’ll be performing a solo as well as a group number with the alumna at the Saturday evening show.
UPDATE: Coverage of the event in the New Haven Register, along with video of last year’s show, here