I’ve been thinking about our Girls Raks girls on the first day of the program last year. Girls Raks girls come to us with varied life experiences and in all stages of personal development and self-esteem. I remember the layers of hurt, shame and disappointment one wore as a mask. The quiet, timid, shy strength cloaking one girl as she struggled with finding her voice and her rhythm. The thick walls of toughness, bravado and self-assuredness camouflaging one girl’s fear of failure. The harsh, overbearing, idealized expectations of beauty that one was both critical of and attracted to. These are all Girls Raks girls.
This week we are reading student applications for this year’s Girls Raks Bellydance and Body Image Program and re-reading the applications from the first two years. The themes that come up over and over again for these girls of all sizes are about learning self-confidence and self-acceptance with their bodies. Most of our students do not identify as dancers. To take their space on a stage, dancing in synchronicity with each other, in front of a supportive audience cheering them on is a life-changing experience for these girls.
Hotter Than July Bellydance Extravaganza is our annual celebration and benefit for the Girls Raks Bellydance and Body Image Program at La Peña Cultural Center. For our students, the show marks the culmination of the two-week summer program and their debut public performance along with a fantastic lineup of performers. For most of our students, Hotter Than July is a safe step well beyond their perceived comfort levels.
Last year, our Girls Raks girls at Hotter Than July were beyond brave and beyond amazing. They filled the La Peña stage with their confidence, hearts and wide smiles of survival. They danced as sisters moving to the same beat and they danced as individuals embracing the spotlight as took their turns in mini-solos.
Mark your calendars now for this year’s Hotter Than July Bellydance Extravaganza on July 28th! This not to be missed event features Bay Area professional bellydance treasures Nanna Candelaria, Ahava, Monica Berini, Shabnam Dance Company, Shaunte, Masouma Rose, Raks al Khalil, multi-instrumentalist Tabla Queen Amber Field, with Tigress Osborn as MC and special performances from summer program participants, Girls Raks and event producers, Raks Africa.
Girls Raks is fiscally sponsored by Dancers’ Group
1360 Mission Street, Suite 200, San Francisco, CA 94103
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