There’s something about bellydance that draws me in and keeps me entranced, obsessed, intoxicated… like a lover who just won’t let up! I know I am not alone in this… I have seen it happen to many women. You know who you are 🙂
Maybe because unlike any other dance form, bellydance draws heavily on my passionate, sensual, sexual self. Maybe its the beautiful costumes, the glitter, the drum beat, the sultry vocals, being barefoot…or because it just feels so good.
Maybe I love belly dance because of the comraderie – While bellydance has been subjected to the same fate as most dance forms- the fourth wall- it still tries to hold onto its integrity as a community celebration. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy stage performance. But I feel bellydance is special in its accessibility and community spirit.
Maybe I love bellydance so much because it connects me to my roots.. Whether I have ‘roots’ meaning a genetic lineage to the Middle East, Egypt, or Africa I am not sure… but I have a past life memory of this, a sense of the connection to my ancient fore-mothers, strong female ancestors who moved their bodies in powerful ways- uninhibited, untamed, in celebration of life, death, and birth.
The movement of my hips, chest and belly- body parts that for so long were riddled with shame and self-consciousness, became free and filled with self-acceptance and joy. Bellydance helped me to remember that my womb and belly are the center of my life force.
Probably the main reason I love bellydance so much is because of how much it has helped me to love myself and my body.
It has become an indispensable practice of physical grounding, mental & emotional support for over 8 years.. through body-hate, eating issues, pelvic pain, pregnancy, post partum, depression, anxiety, relationships come and gone, many life transitions and changes, it has kept me sane and balanced…
I am very hard on myself. A recovering perfectionist. Its easy for me to take any physical discipline, or fun activity and make it hard. Impossible to reach standards propel me forward. I thrive on challenge but exhaust myself in criticism and obsess over details. Bellydance is a discipline and an art. It is a mind-body- soul practice. But it doesn’t have to be hard. Its takes some work, patience and love to improve and while the essence of the movements are natural, (most women already have a foundation whether they know it or not), it is a skill that takes practice. But in learning how to move my clumsy muscles and bones it has transformed and liberated me in ways nothing else has…
As I practiced my body waves I transmuted starvation and longing, and was able to welcome in nourishment and goodness
As I strengthened my ab muscles I suddenly felt strong in myself and able to say ‘no’ to people that drain my energy
As I shimmied my chest, I released the cages around my heart and allowed it to open to love again.
As I undulated my belly I became a peaceful waterfall amidst a stressful time.
As I snaked my arms around my body and in the space around me, I felt empowered to shed my skin, heal the past and renew myself.
As I tossed my hair I caught a glimpse of the spiritual nature of my sexuality.
As I framed my face, it helped me to see my face as a work of art worth framing.
As I bumped and shimmied my hips, I was shocked to discover a strong, grounded woman who kicks ass
As I whirled and twirled with my veil, I was free to be a whimsical child again who felt she could fly
As I practiced my floor-work I reclaimed the power of my primitive instincts as sensuous earth dweller, snake priestess, mermaid
As I labored through the birth of my daughter, it kept me connected to the strength in my womb and belly to give birth smoothly and powerfully
As I danced with my fellow dancers, I felt I belonged to a community, a sisterhood, even if we didn’t know each other that well
Every time I dance I discover new levels of myself and this passion propels me to continue. What is the essence of Bellydance? Why do I do it? For all the reasons above and so many more…
Even if in the mirror, to this day, I still see my elbows are too pointy, my hand placements need work, I’m poker faced, my shimmy sucks or I just can’t seem to coordinate my brain to my muscles. Its the practice of saying ‘It’s ok.’ to myself that helps me grow as a dancer. I study with teachers to master technique, but to me, what makes me a bellydancer is my ability to hold the spirit of the ancestors, the women who danced before- and heed their whisperings- “You are beautiful. You are enough. You are The Goddess.”
And that is why I bellydance. 🙂
*Seconds after posting this blog, my friend Kaleena Lawless posted this interesting article about bellydancers and body image– take a read!