Scholarships for Tiazza Wilson's belly dance class have been available for a few years now, but for the first time, Wilson is offering a free belly dancing class in Ashland.

Wilson says she is offering the free class to help those who can't afford classes.

"The economy is not doing well and in a time of recession, a lot of people don't take dance classes," Wilson said. "Oregon has the highest unemployment rate in the country &

(there are) many reasons why we should be doing certain things for free or cheap in the community. My classes are the cheapest classes in the area as long as I could fix the rate myself."

Wilson believes dance is a good thing for teenagers to get involved with, instead of getting into trouble. She has seen a need for more youth activities in the Ashland area.

"Teenagers here have nothing to do," she said. "I heard a saying once that 'free time is the mother of all problems.' Teenagers love to compete and

use their bodies."

Wilson was born in the Berber tribe of Tizourzien, south of Morocco. She graduated from the School of Information Sciences in Rabat, Morocco in 2001.

After a trip around the world, she was offered a full scholarship at Southern Oregon University, graduating in 2004.

She has been teaching belly dance since the age of 19.

Wilson is currently the artistic director and choreographer of Sahara Bellydancers, a professional belly dance troupe.

Wilson is also the new choreographer of the Oregon Conservatory of Performing Arts dance team.

"In Morocco it's the only dance," she said. "It's just called 'dance.' Even in the clubs, that's how people dance. You can't even find teachers or studios in Morocco. You have to go to parties. It's the people who know how to do it."

Free classes require the use of free studio space.

Roy Wright of Ashland is a tango teacher with a studio in his home and the volition to offer his space for free.

"I was remodeling my house and it was possible, so I did," Wright said. "If I were a bowler, who knows what I might have done? Tiazza gave up her time slot at the Grove so that I could teach a tango class. Therefore, when I found out she needed space, what else could I do?"

Both Wright and Wilson believe that teaching dance has a positive effect on society.

"Dance of any kind improves the life of students and the community. This is an opinion. I know people who don't dance, but I'm not sure I trust them," Wright said.

Wilson noticed the need for traditional belly dance when she moved here.

"Right now it's one of the hottest workouts. It's a style of dance you can have no matter what kind of body you have. It allows any woman to dance," Wilson said.

Wilson organizes performances with her belly dance troupe &

usually in association with fundraisers for organizations like ACCESS food share or the American Cancer Society.

"Belly dance has elements that Americans are not used to," Wilson said. "I've taught in many different countries and every country has different difficulties with the movements. For example, in Hong Kong the women would not shake their bosom. Americans have trouble moving their hands gracefully."

In conjunction with the international week at SOU, she will be hosting a free belly dance workshop April 28 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Stevenson Union, with a special performanec from 9 to 10 p.m.

"Anyone can join the troupe. People who come to rehearsals are welcome to," Wilson said.

Anyone interested in attending the class will need to register at /