I’m Lauren Zehara Haas, the founder of Belly Dance U.
What is Belly Dance U?
Think of Belly Dance U as the classrooms that work alongside your dance classes, just like a science classroom complements the lab. Your teacher probably focuses on movement when you’re in the studio, and that’s what most students want to learn. For those who want to learn more than movement — culture, history, styles, choreography, the business of going pro, the pedagogy of teaching — there’s Belly Dance U.
Who am I?
I was a professional bellydancer, teacher, and studio owner in the St. Louis area. Many of you know me from my years of active discussion on Bhuz and, later, on Facebook groups. I love to talk about dance, ask questions, and find answers.
In May of 2013, I retired from professional dance to travel the world. I sold all my worldly goods (even my costumes!) and now everything I own fits in a backpack. I support myself as a freelance writer these days, writing for CBS, WebPsychology.com, Hipmunk, and other sites. I don’t dance any more — at least, not professionally. But I still love to talk about dance, ask questions, and find answers.
Why Belly Dance U?
When I decided to form my own publishing company, I knew bellydance would be one of the first topics I’d want to take on. So I’m building this site, beginning with updated content from my long-neglected Bellydancestuff.com website. My goal is to publish articles, books, and Kindle singles (short ebooks) by some of the authoritative voices, great teachers, and academic researchers in our industry.
Of course, it’s not really a University. I chose the name Belly Dance U because I wanted to convey the idea of serious study, dedicated research, and high standards of information quality. BDU will be a resource for students, a homework hotline for teachers, and a place for dance academics, historians, and authoritative voices in our dance to share information.
We do have an imaginary island campus though. Here’s a map.
Belly Dance U is the official sponsor of Global Hafla for Humanity, an annual fundraiser that unites dancers around the world to shimmy together for a good cause.