being conscious of your bellydancing journey
Click here for direct link to article - http://zaraabdel.wixsite.com/zameena/kay-s-journey
In the beginning
When I began Bellydancing, I was a naïve enthusiast, enamoured by the glamour, confidence and divinity of the dancers. As a girl that struggled with food, confidence and self-esteem for much of my teenage life, Bellydancing gave me a sense of inner strength I had never experienced before. Plus I was good at it. My body was naturally curvy, shimmying felt euphoric to me and I embraced the sacred/classical element of the art.
However, within a year of embracing my soulful love, I came hip-dropping down to the ground! Not everyone I met was appreciative of my joy and enthusiasm (including my first Bellydancing teacher). If anything, I was ‘spoken down’ to on many occasions, but me being the positive person I am, pursued the good regardless of the criticisms. So I continued to perform, teach and share my love. Yet it seemed the more I opened my heart, the more hurt I was getting by people’s attitude, comments and perspectives.
People Bellydance for different reasons
You see, people Bellydance for different reasons and this is what I keep telling my trainee’s, dance colleagues and students. Some dance to perform professionally, some to earn money and make a living, for others it’s a hobby whilst many wish to continually learn and teach. Some dance to build their confidence whereas others dance because they enjoy the social aspect of it (click here to read my article 40 reasons you should Bellydance).
What is Bellydancing?
As we all dance for different reasons, we need to be selective about the information we choose to learn from other teachers and tutors. I mean, I have heard so many stories about dancers being told they’re not doing something correctly e.g. plie’ing or spinning. This criticism is regardless of whether that move or technique suits their shape, body or form. Furthermore, it may not even be indicative of the Bellydancing ‘style’ they wish to pursue.
Bellydancing is a very pure and classical art. To me, Bellydancing is the art depicted in this video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yl85vnsndx0&list=PL65A44E124044BC4C(music muted by YouTube – if you find another version with music, please send it to me!) The art is displayed via the womens’ hips, curves, confidence, aura, sensuality, smile, laughter, effortlessness, steadiness, simplicity … Technically, these are qualities that cannot be taught … So when did Bellydancing become about the accuracy of your hips-drop or the height of your snake arms rather than a release of emotions and the psychological sanctuary? Whoever decided to teach, monitor and assess Bellydancing surely depraves a dancer of the true sanctity of Bellydancing?
Me, Myself and Bellydancing
I agree everyone is different and it is easy to be swept up in the whirlwind of classes, workshops and tutorials; I mean we all want to learn more. But I have learned more about MY style of Bellydancing from the moment I stopped listening to others, stopped learning from others and stopped comparing myself to others. The moment I stopped and listened to myself, reminded myself why I began dancing and embraced the Bellydancing qualities true to me – I suddenly became a happier dancer.
Dancing has always brought me joy. Dancing is part of my genetics, soul and heart. But it’s also a very sentimental possession that I hold very close to my heart. Criticising my dancing, especially my Bellydancing, is like an insult to me. But since I have found myself within myself, criticism seems to fall on deaf ears. Never before have I felt such a close resonance with the dance and I have achieved this on my own, through my own reflections and using my own Goddess Power. I urge you to try the same ;-)
Does this mean Bellydancing can’t be taught?
The qualities listed above - confidence, sensuality, effortlessness, steadiness, simplicity etc are traits within every dancer. The key is finding the right learning environment or teacher who can harness these qualities and bring them out from the inner depth. It is also very likely that different teacher’s will bring out different qualities at different times of your life; so, it’s important to be conscious of yourself as a learner whilst in the presence of a teacher. Saying that, some of the best learning experiences or revelations happen when you least expect them so whatever the lesson, endure & embrace it.
I have always tried to create a warm, safe and relaxed atmosphere in my classes but I’ll admit, in the past, it has backlashed on me because the boundaries between teacher and student can become blurred. When you get to know a student, meet them regularly and are a crucial part of their opening, issues related to attachment, acceptance and ego can surface and create false expectations, misunderstandings, and eventually, loss. Thankfully, I don’t dwell on such experiences. I believe life is too short to over-think situations. One should understand, learn and grow so that one’s personal development doesn’t stop.
Choosing a teacher
When you choose a Bellydancing teacher, like any education, it is important to choose a teacher that will meet your requisites and supply your needs. Choose a teacher that will steer your development in the correct direction and support, mentor and guide you with earnest energy and endless enthusiasm. Remember, different teachers will appeal to you at different stages. There are so many factors to consider: personality, teaching style, dance experience, level of the classes, day and time of the classes, the aims of the classes … the list goes on.
What I want to share during my Bellydancing classes is for women to feel confident in their skin, to love their body and exude emotion when they dance. Not to mention unleashing their feminine fire, subconscious (Bellydancing) dreams and reminding them to remain true to the reason they started Bellydancing in the first place.
Your Bellydancing Journey
I always looked in awe at ladies older than me who danced with such a grace and ease. Finally, I feel as though I have had a sneak-peak into their world through a secret window and the key really is to accept yourself. What I have realised is my emotional development has greatly impacted my Bellydance development.
Whatever your reason for Bellydancing, don’t be clouded by other people’s reason for dancing. Try not to be steered by other dancers’ dreams and ambitions. Try and stay true to yourself. It’s natural to go through up’s and down’s with your passion, that’s what keeps the fire burning. But embrace those experiences, good and bad, and don’t be afraid to let your life beyond Bellydancing play a part in your Bellydancing development. It’s more soulful, or spiritual, than you think.