It’s noon on a Monday and a group of women in veils and hip scarves draped with golden coins are gathered in the dance studio of the Fine Arts Center.
Within minutes, these professors and Castleton State College staffers would be gyrating to various beats under the belly dancing guidance of Joann Larson.
It all started when Larson decided to use her lunch break time to practice for an upcoming show. When others expressed an interest in learning her unique dancing moves, Larson contacted the Wellness Center to jump start the belly dancing class. Larson, a belly dancer of 10 years, was then free to offer the class to students and faculty alike.
“I started in college and then when I moved out here, I took a class and have been belly dancing ever since,” Larson said.
For Larson, belly dancing has been beneficial on a lot of levels.
“It’s not only really fun, but it’s also empowering. Women of all shapes, sizes, and abilities can do this,” Larson said.
“It’s good exercise because you isolate different muscle groups that you don’t use normally.”
Larson said she makes the class fun by incorporating different moves and different music, including AC/DC if you can believe it.
The class also isn’t limited to women. Men are also free to join too, she said, although none were present at the recent session.
“Some of the moves are a little different, but a man can belly dance,” Larson said.
Professor Melinda Mills joined the Feb. 13 class as a first-timer.
“It looked like fun, so I thought I would check it out,” she said.
The class meets every Monday in the Dance Studio at the Fine Arts Center from noon to 1 p.m.
Asked what prompted her to take the class, professor Deb Larson, no relation, was quick to answer.
“I decided to try something different, new year, new activities,” Larson said. “It’s a lot of fun and I encourage everyone to check it out.”
Sue Reedy, who also takes yoga classes, said she enjoys the class. She said after sitting down for several hours at a time, it’s nice to get up and move around.
“It’s similar to yoga. You certainly should come and try it,” she said.