And wound up sobbing.
This is such great therapy, and I can't wait to dance more because writing this stuff down, actually identifying it and admitting to it has solidified in my head just how important the dance is to me. All those people who think its just a way to get attention, or it's little more, or less, than stripping can go on thinking whatever they want. I will feel bad for them that they cannot appreciate the beauty of all life has to offer.
If you're interested, here's the article:
I began belly dancing about 5 years ago when I was a stay at home mum in a new city, a new country! I’d always worked and gone out with friends, but my life suddenly changed and I felt I was losing myself. A community class offer for Egyptian style belly dance classes was advertised in the paper and I jumped at the chance. I’d always loved seeing the gypsy dancers at Renaissance Fairs and watching belly dancers at festivals. I knew that I would probably never be on stage as I was uncoordinated and graceful was never a word that anyone thought of when they met me. In fact, I was asked to leave a ballet class in college because I just couldn’t “get it.”
I showed up to that first class dressed for yoga with a scarf I’d found in the back of my closet. I was nervous about what would happen; would I make a total fool of myself yet again? Class started and the instructor took the first several minutes to explain some of the philosophy behind belly dance. We are sisters, we are connected to the Earth, we are strong, beautiful women and anyone who tells us differently does not deserve to be in our lives. Then she began to make us move. It was elemental. The moves came naturally to me. This was what I was meant for. The instructor asked me how many years I’d been dancing! Me! Suddenly my brain and body clicked and for the first time in my life I felt whole.
We practiced a full year before putting on a hafla. Back stage, doing all those final preparations- eyeliner and lipstick touch ups, frantically trying to rehearse one more time- I realized I was buzzing from excitement. There were no nerves, I knew the dance, I knew I could do it, and dang I looked good! Looking around at these strangers who became my sisters, even the guest dancers whom I’d never met were my sisters now, I was shocked to see the nerves playing out. One had a bottle of wine that she was trying to find courage in the bottom of, another was smearing her make-up with tears dripping down her face, one had her head between her knees taking deep breaths, and several were shaking so badly they were having a hard time walking. So I began to sing. I don’t know why, but it just felt right, and the tension simmering in the room lessened for a few moments. Until we lined up at the door to go onstage, at least. For me, that first step in front of a real audience was magical. I was at the front of the line, and I felt beautiful, strong, sure of myself for the first time. All of the nags and worries of life were not allowed on stage with me. On stage it was everything that was good about me, and none of the bad. My only complaint was that the performance didn’t last longer. I never wanted to leave that stage.
Since that first step on stage, I’ve developed m dance persona into a person that I truly love. I’ve experimented with cabaret, Turkish, and tribal styles, but my passion, my love above all others is modern fusion. I still enjoy dancing with my sisters, but when I take the stage by myself, I know what it is to be truly alive.
It may be said that I have been seduced by the audience, and very well that may be true. More importantly, though, I have been saved by dance. In the past 5 years I have gone through many changes in my life. We have moved countries, my son was diagnosed with several mental disorders, I have been hospitalized, and suicidal. There were days when I refused to eat because I felt I was hideous and didn’t deserve anything, even food and water. Those were the days, those incredibly bad days, when my husband would put the music on loud and tell me to move. Because as soon as I do I remember how strong I am inside, how beautiful I am on the outside, how much I love and am loved, and I feel connected, truly connected, to everyone in the world and the Earth herself. Belly dance pulls me back from the darkness in the times I most need a light. It awakens in me the power of healing, of love, and kindness- kindness to others and kindness to myself. I feel that I am a better person because I dance, because I am free.