There has been a huge growth in popularity of belly dance shows, contests and schools across China.


Sabtu, 26 Okt 2013 15:25 WIB


Mark Godfrey


China, Belly Dancing, Wen Kexin Belly Dancing School, Mark Godfrey

Belly dancing has long been associated with the Middle East, but its future may be here in China.

There has been a huge growth in popularity of belly dance shows, contests and schools across the country.

A recent belly dancing convention in Beijing brought stars from around the world for a weekend of workshops and shows.

Two dozen dancers go through their routines at an afternoon class here at the Wen Kexin Belly Dancing School.

It’s located in a plush new commercial complex on Beijing’s east side.

25-year-old Fan Hui Mi is a regular student here.

She gave up her white collar job in financial services to become a full-time belly dancing teacher, despite her parent’s objections.

“They were really against me starting to belly dance because the outfits weren’t appropriate for a young Chinese woman. But then gradually they changed their mind when they saw how artistic and pretty the dance was. And then they saw our performances on TV and when I danced on a well known TV show I know my mom was proud.”

This belly dancing school was opened by former singer Wen Kexin.

She learnt to belly dance a decade ago when she went to record a music video in Egypt.

She then set up Beijing’s first belly dancing club and school, followed by a website in 2004.

Today she has 63 licenced belly dancing schools around China with 100,000 students.

“There are three kinds of people who learn belly dancing with us. There are quite a lot who come to learn to be belly dancing teachers and open their own schools because belly dancing is hot right now. Secondly, we have students who want to be belly dancing stars. They don’t necessarily want to dance in bars or Arab restaurants, rather they want to join a dance troupe and perform in theatres and stadiums, which is popular in China. Many would like to dance in my dance troupe or in another troupe called the China Belly Dancing Superstars. And then finally we have many students who dance to keep fit, for them it’s a hobby.”

30-year-old Tao Xue Lie is a business graduate in her native city of Zhengzhou in central China.

She learnt to belly dance in 2007.

“When I started it was very hard but all students find it hard at the start, I had a very helpful teacher, she gave me encouragement, she kept saying come on, don't worry, one step at a time, do it again. And slowly, slowly I started to build confidence and get better."

She now sees her future as a belly dancing tutor after a week of special training in Beijing.

She’s ready to set off to a new Wen Kexin Academy in the southern island province of Hainan.

And in China, it’s not just the women who are taking it up.

32-year-old Yao Peng Bu is a male belly dancing superstar with his own school in Beijing and a busy performance schedule. 
He travels regularly to the Middle East and around Asia to take part in workshops and performances.

“Those who know about bellydance are more and more than before. I was talking with a famous Egyptian belly dancing instructor who told me that our belly dancing events are the best attended in the world. She attends these events around the world. I have been to other countries and I think our belly dancing is of a very high artistic standard. I think there are factors here. In western countries the cost of staff and property are much higher so they do things on a smaller scale compared to China.”

China’s belly dancers are on a roll.

Wen Kexin has big plans to grow belly dancing further in China.

“Next year we’ll add five to eight more Wen Kexin academies in regional cities. Also we’re planning a big Egyptian festival and I plan to bring some of the biggest stars of belly dancing to China for performances and workshops.”


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