Grateful To Be A Student

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Etang's blog headshotGetting pushed beyond my comfort zone and my perceived limitations with bellydance is exactly what I am craving. Yes, it’s what’s for dinner and I’m hungry. I have been complacent. Safe. Comfortable. That box that I created for myself about how I can move in this body is bursting at every corner. There is so much more I want to explore, learn and create. As the duet Raks Africa, we adopted the tagline for ourselves: Big bellied girls doing big things! That statement is true, but it has boundaries and it doesn’t tell the complete story of our vision.

After Ranya Renee's Modern Oriental workshop sponsored by Monica of San Francisco

At the beginning of this month, Tammy and I wrote some individual reflections about our visions for our work together with Raks Africa, Girls Raks and Your Body Raks. We both strongly agree that we need a shift to have dance more intentionally centralized in our work. The past couple of weeks have been filled with challenging, new learning opportunities because we recognized this void in our own professional development as dancers, and we have plans for more instruction and self-study in the upcoming months. I think about my first classes in 2001 as a baby bellydancer and again in 2006 when Tammy and I did a series of local drop-in classes in search of a mentor (and we found the amazing Nanna Candelaria). That level of openness and self-discovery were wonderful times of personal growth for me. So now in 2012, I find myself with different goals, but feeling new to the dance again in workshops and private classes with Ranya Renee, Ahava and Amina Goodyear.

I may find myself turn-challenged and in my head far too often in a choreography workshop, but then I have a new world of possibilities explode for me with learning new styles, techniques and combinations for shimmies. In addition to learning stronger technique, I am also excited about a deeper understanding of the social, cultural, political and historical context of bellydance. That contextual understanding is connected to my passion for this dance and I’m all in, ready to love deeply and rigorously.

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