Seton Hall’s belly dancing team, Jewels of the Desert, has gained popularity while showcasing their unique unconventional form of dance at various university events.
Jewels of the Desert is recognized as a subset club under the Association of Middle Eastern Cultures (AMEC). However, the team is working to expand from the subset club to being recognized as its own organization.
Freshmen Kandy Cardosa wants to expand the club.
“We understand that AMEC is representing culture and the belly dancing team is a part of it,” Cardosa said. “I think it should be separate and something everyone could enjoy. We just want to make it bigger and get anyone who is interested involved.”
Freshman Victoria Haffner says that the team wants to reach out to university students and increase interest.
“We’re just trying to show that we’re really committed in what we’re doing, we’re trying to make it more official,” Haffner said.
The team has taken the beginning steps of expanding their program and getting student recognition.
According to Coach Maryan Nasralla, the team has set the goals to gain student participation and interest in the club.
“The goals we have set include encouraging more students to participate, to increase performances and to buy outfits and belly dancing accessories,” Nasralla said.
Aside from building up student participation, the team is in the process of setting up a meeting with the president of AMEC and discussing the steps necessary to gain funding and recognition as a team.
“We hope to become either an established dance team or an established club under AMEC,” Nasralla said.
Also, according to Cardosa, the team has spoken to the Student Activities Board and requested to be informed of any events planned for the university so Jewels of the Desert can participate.
“We tried going to SAB to see if there was any events open and to let us know so we can put ourselves out there and make our club well known,” Cardosa said.
Previously, the team has performed one of their routines during University Day. The team practices three to four days a week for two hours.
“One of the things we had to learn for University Day was that we needed to shake our Hips and walk,” Cardosa said. “Maryan will break it down step by step before she’ll put on the music and show us the routine.”
Currently, they have been asked to perform at MLKSA Expo, ASA Formals, AMEC Formal, International Day and RACE.
Within the next year, Cardosa hopes to perform at various events for the university.
“I would love to participate in a few basketball games and any events that go on the Green. Maybe next year during international week there could be a belly dancing performance because it’s international related,” Cardosa said.
Nasralla enjoys the role of the Jewels of the Deserts coach. She feels uplifted knowing that she is helping students learn a new skill such as belly dancing.
“The best part about being the coach is to teach others especially those of a different ethnicity than Middle Eastern,” Nasralla said. “I enjoy watching their faces light up and at times squirm when I am teaching them a move or showing them the routine. Also, it is a great way to stay in shape, as well to witnessing the transform of students from the first practice till the last one.”
Jaqueline DeBenedetto can be reached email@example.com.