A simple dance class can lift spirits

I think I have fallen in love with dancing all over again.

Last year I really got the belly dance blues. Partly surrounded by other folks negativity, my own doubts and challenges seemed too high to jump over and I sort of thought why bother? Taking a deep breath I undertook a bit of navel gazing and here I am in 2014 in my tenth year teaching belly dancing and still performing with some exciting projects this year.

Yes definitely got my mojo back. I moved my head away from the “shoulds” and now have heart and head placed in “coulds”. So here is the thing I am now dancing for joy, for fun, to have a good time. I truly believe I have enough understanding to participate in debate and discussion regarding different styles, appropriation, cultural respect, and the whole damn diversity of belly dance and am excited to be learning more. But I am not wasting any more time getting het up about this that and the other, and have shifted away from hoo haa to embrace more fun and frolics.

Last night I got three new women at class. As usual they expressed their keenness to do belly dance but who knows whether I will see them again. As they came early we had usual discussion of what had brought them there, etc. They told me they found pictures on my website of me scary! They were concerned that we would all be stripped off I think! However when asked it transpires that they were astonished at my confidence these images of my dancing reveal (shout out to The Hooded Lens and Dark Soul Photography here methinks x) and how comfortable I am in my own skin. One of my students then tried to explain that indeed belly dancing is addictive and this in part is due to the confidence building it gives women.

We start to dance. I teach an open level class so new dancers are enveloped in a friendly way with my established group. It presents challenges to me in teaching technique and getting to grips with basics whilst challenging experienced dancers. However it offers so much more in terms of friendship, motivation, energy and fun.  We start off with uncomfortable shifting about, embarrassed giggles, and hiding at the back of the room not wanting to look in the mirror. Teaching a simple combination I start to get the room moving with some hip hits, drops and simple arms and the magic of everyone dancing suddenly is there. A moment in time but suddenly there is that synchronisation of hearts, minds arms and feet and we all start to groove to the beat!!! The astonishment of the new women that for a short while they have given up their outside world and just well simply danced. Over the years many women have come and gone in my dance class and I have come to understand that if they go away with just this fabulous feeling for a brief moment in time this is more than enough. Here is hoping they return for more.

I tell my established group of dancers in the break some sad news, which will get worse over time. Hugs all around and the boys start to drum. A small group of friends as well as dancers and students we start to dance. This week we use the combinations for a while but then we are drawn into the lovely feel and quality of the masmoudi our drummers express and we dance with feeling. Real bare emotion wants something less I am seeking something. I request a really slow saiidi and it’s played beautifully. Simply but gorgeous sounds and resonance from the drums and I ask that we all move real slowly with meaning commitment and expression. Perfect expression of emotion. Less is more.

Dance and drum together with our heartbeats and soul bringing us back to what is real, why we dance and the celebration of life.  Here is hoping we all get the opportunity to return for more.



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