After a few years of investment in costumes, classes, weekend workshops and performances, I was ready to take my bellydance experience to the next level. So there I was, sampling class number three on my list of local bellydance offerings. Facing a mirror, I attempted to mimic the instructor’s every move. I couldn’t help but think about how I looked like no one else there. This wasn’t an unfamiliar feeling. I had felt this way through grade school, college and in many professional settings. But it was a strange sensation to have with bellydance. Unnerving, even. An hour later, after paying for the class, I didn’t get as much as a hello or thank you.
Etang and I have had many conversations about this and other experiences in dance classes. Bellydance for us has become more than a way of gracefully moving from point A to point B. The dance has become an essential means of self-connection, as well as a way of creating community with others. In the hour spent working on technique, we want something more. That is why we begin each class with a warm-up routine that explicitly incorporates the Your Body Raks four central values.
I would think that it would be difficult to be a good dancer if you weren’t fully present. So we start there, asking each woman to listen to her body and be open to learning something new about the dance and herself. Extending the connection from self to others comes next with the concept of awareness. This acknowledges that we are building a community of women who confidently take their place on the dance floor, but consciously make space for others, as well. We do all of this with language and actions that embrace the concept of body love, leaving judgment of self and others at the door. And finally, but most certainly, there is joy, a sense of levity that helps you embrace the movement, smile and breathe!
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