Can men take the class?

While most belly dancers are female, men can and do dance.

In the Near/Middle East, most male performers do folkloric men’s dances, rather than classic belly dance. However, trailblazers in many different parts of the world have adapted what we think of as “the women’s style” and made it their own.

I believe that everyone has the right to dance.

That said, belly dance asks us to move in ways that are often discouraged and/or sexualized in Western culture. Learning to do so under the male gaze can be daunting.

And some women may not be able to dance in front of men for cultural or religious reasons. This is true for many women in the cultures that we are borrowing this dance from. So not providing a women-only space effectively bars some students from those backgrounds from participating in their own dance.

 

To accommodate as many needs as possible:

  • By default, both Level 1 classes are open to people of all gender identities.
  • When there is a student who cannot dance in front of men for religious or cultural reasons, one of the Level 1 classes will be limited to women only. The other Level 1 offering will remain open to everyone. That status may change from semester to semester, depending on enrollment.
  • Upper-level classes are intended to prepare students for public performance, and so are open to qualified students of all gender identities.

 

That said:

1) It is not my place to decide who is and isn’t a woman.
If you self-identify as female (regardless of gender assigned at birth or legal recognition of your gender), you are welcome in any women-only classes. If you’re not sure whether this includes you, or if you have any concerns, you’re welcome to discuss it with me, but don’t feel obligated to disclose anything you would prefer to keep private. If you identify as a woman, you are eligible for the women-only classes; you don’t need to contact me for permission first.

(Students of non-binary gender are always welcome in all-gender classes.)

2) Inappropriate behavior will not be tolerated from students of any gender.
However, male students are expected to be especially mindful of the challenges their female and non-gender-binary-identified classmates are facing, and moderate their behavior accordingly. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

3) Male students are asked to contact me before joining the class.
We’ll talk over expectations for the class, as well as logistics like where you can change clothes.
 

Need a woman-only class?

If you want to take the class, but can’t dance in front of men for religious or cultural reasons, please contact me before you register at nadira@nadirajamal.com.

Registration is first-come, first-served, so whether I can designate a class women-only depends on who has already registered. But I’ll try to accommodate everyone’s needs if I can.
 
 
Updated August 17th, 2016.

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