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Tuesday, 9 October, 2001, 15:04 GMT 16:04 UK
Student makes right moves
belly dancer
Many women feel uplifted by belly dancing
A belly dancing enthusiast is teaching her pastime to pay her way through a degree course.

Siouxsie Cooper from Totnes, Devon, has started up a new class in Plymouth to help fund her studies at Dartington College of Arts.

She says she needs the extra money to supplement her student loan.

"This is a great way of helping my finances," she told BBC News Online, "I don't want to work behind a bar, I'd be too bored."

Belly dancing gives women the tools to start feeling happy about their body shape

Siouxsie Cooper

She hopes a three-year course in Devised Theatre at the college will allow her to pursue dance as a career as well as a hobby.

Ms Cooper, 28, began taking belly dancing lessons five years ago and now runs several classes in the county.

She has been astounded by their popularity and puts it down to women wanting to express themselves without inhibition.

Body 'hang-up'

"Belly dancing gives women the tools to start feeling happy about their body shape," she said.

"In the classes they can just jangle about and relax and that makes them feel confident."

Siouxsie Cooper
Siouxsie Cooper wants to promote Eastern dance
Ms Cooper is keen for men to join her classes but says they are guarded about moving in the sensual way which belly dancing encourages.

"I teach Salsa and West African dance and men come to those classes but I think men have a hang-up about moving their bodies."

After completing her degree, Ms Cooper intends to forge a career in dance and theatre and make more people aware of belly dancing.

"I'd like to dance internationally and spread the word about Eastern dance.

"There's so much more to dance than the moves we see on stage and in pop videos."

Click here to go to BBC Devon Online
See also:

06 Jun 01 | Middle East
Belly dancing goes global
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