A Beginner’s Bellydance Journey

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Tammy's HeadshotI didn’t even own a hip scarf, let alone one with those pretty, jingly coins on them. So I took a deep breath, put on some sweats and a t-shirt, wrapped a scrunchy in my hair, and headed out to my first bellydance class. I had watched a friend dance for a while and longed for the sense of liberation that she carried with every step. But that longing didn’t quiet the voices in my head that screamed “Run and hide!” every time I went to a gym. Will I look silly, clumsy and laughably uncoordinated? Am I wearing the right thing? Will I pick up the routine easily or be the odd one out? Will my body be able to do those things? Will this be fun or another ego blow?

Then something big happened. This was not another 1, 2, 3 & 4 workout drill. This was something else. One class led to two, a week, then a month. It’s a decade later, and I’m still dancing. What happened?  I liked bellydancing, but more importantly, my body loved it. Yes, there were times that I got tripped up by the steps. And truth be told, it still happens on occasion. But those challenges taught me to be patient with myself, to appreciate my body’s own rhyme and reason. Eventually, my body would make those moves its own. I just had to remember to be patient, breathe and have fun.

And, yes, it was fun! The music had an undeniable beat that dared me to stand still. So, along with the other women in the class—some younger, some older, of all sizes, races and backgrounds—I moved. We became a community of women, sometimes dancing in unison and at other times taking our turn at a solo. Listening to the music, we flirted, smoldered and laughed to the story that it told. We cheered each other’s dance triumphs and encouraged each other to take that next tricky but satisfying step.

All of this comes back to me as I reflect on the first week of Your Body Raks classes. After months of dreaming, planning and hoping for the best, the women arrived. Together we stretched, shimmied, walked like an Egyptian and yes, laughed. But how did they feel?  R. wrote in her survey, “I felt supported and accepted, with so much ease and grace. It was fun. I felt like the goddess I had forgotten I was.” Yes! That is what Your Body Raks is about: bellydance, body justice and joy.

Etang and I feel so honored that these women have chosen to us as their guides through the wonderful world of bellydance. See you next week!

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