Grooving to the music

Jenna Mann

Jenna Mann

When thinking of dance in South Dakota, square dancers, jazz dancers and maybe even a few ballerinas may come to mind.

Add belly dancers to that list.

South Dakota State University is home to a group, Dakota Harem, dedicated to the art of belly dancing. The group formed in April 2006 with seven students.

Senior visual arts and liberal studies Klaire Pearson leads the group, originally formed to perform for the SCA Medieval Fair held on campus last May. The event was a success, and the members decided to stick with it.

Dakota Harem has performed at various area events since April, including the Brookings Summer Arts Festival in July and most recently, the Volga Girl Scouts’ cultural night in August. They have put in an application to dance in the Hobo Day Parade and plan to audition for Cavorts. The group is also looking into performing in the residence halls later during the year.

Dakota Harem meets a minimum of once a week to practice routines and take additional lessons. Practices last for two hours, but can run much longer, especially before performances or auditions. Group members make their own costumes, play percussion instruments and travel to watch other belly-dancing groups.

Senior Maria Amarillas is a member of Dakota Harem.

“I originally wanted to study dance, and I still plan to do so in the future,” she said. “So I was thrilled to find a group that wanted to study such a unique type of dance.”

Amarillas said the best part about Dakota Harem is “the dancing and friendship that has come from this.”

To learn more about joining Dakota Harem, contact Pearson at [email protected].

#1.884284:2368819783.jpg:Belly03.jpg:From left to right: Katherine Puetz, Klaire Pearson, Maria Amarillas, Laurie Anderson, and Lindsay Anderson practice their belly dancing at a club meeting held Thursday night.:Erin Lester