I applaud the work of the Greenbrier High School seniors who organized the Music for the Miller benefit concert, and I was very happy to be invited to participate. Organizers received my information well before the show date, and my belly dance company, the Eastern Star Dance Theatre, was looking forward to the event. Other belly dancers also were scheduled to audition.
On the day before the show, we were appalled to find out that the venue, West Acres Baptist Church, would not allow belly dancing.
Eastern Star has performed at First Friday, Arts in the Heart, the Westobou Festival Dance Series, and other cultural and artistic events in the CSRA. Our shows are tasteful, classy and family-friendly, and we have always been well-received.
Belly dancing is an ancient art form that has become increasingly popular in recent years, and deserves the same respect as any other dance style. Some people do have some unfortunate misconceptions about this dance and confuse it with stripping -- which it definitely is not -- or are uncomfortable with its ethnic origins. And if there were objections to belly dancing, why were we not told a month ago when we put in our applications?
The students even argued for our inclusion and complained about the last-minute notification, but the church was adamant in its refusal.
Because we supported the mission to save the Miller, several of us reconfigured our dances to participate, but this insult to our dance was very hurtful and diminished the joy we had felt about this endeavor.
(The writer is director of the Eastern Star Dance Theatre.)