Things I learnt through belly dancing

I’ve been mulling over the list for a while, and I think it’s worth thinking about every now and then, to review your own journey. So it is very likely that I will come back to this theme and add to it from time to time, as I find out more about myself, and how dancing is changing me and my views.

  • Every woman is beautiful, if she gives herself permission to be so. I know there’s a common thought, regardless of your shape or size, that goes along the lines of “but who would want to see *me* dance?”. Trust me, the answer is that, as long as you are confident, that confidence radiates, and therefore most people enjoys your dancing. I’ve taken workshops and classes, and gone to haflas and professional performances at restaurants and theatres and other encounters, seen quite a few performers, both amateurs and professionals, and let me tell you, every single one I saw was beautiful. Every single one of my teachers is stunning, and projects that on stage too. From the regal to the playful to the sensual, they all exude confidence and self acceptance, and guess what? you can get that too. Practice, and perform, and learn to open up when dancing, and you will meet a whole new side to yourself that will also translate wonderfully into other areas of your life.
  • your body can do amazing things, even if you don’t think it can. Give it a chance, and practice regularly, and eventually you will find that your body can do a lot more than you thought it could… be it undulations or shimmies, you will find you’ve got a favourite move, and once you see the results of your hard work, and how NICE it looks when you do it, you will love your body for it.
  • your body loves moving, and once you get over the initial pains and aches, it will love you more for giving it something to do. This is related to the previous, and and almost self-explanatory… We didn’t evolve to sit at desks all day, so get moving! Push your body gently, and care for it, and it will reward you by doing what you want and more
  • take care of your body. You want it at its best, so treat it like it deserves, and this involves giving it the nourishment, rest and care it needs. Learn to listen to your body, and act in consequence.
  • women can be incredibly supportive and open with each other. This is almost strange to even *have* to say, but it is an accepted fact among a lot of people that women are catty and nasty with each other. This doesn’t have to be the case, and is often caused by a perceived competition -for being the prettiest, the smartest, the most successful, or whatever- that generates self doubt and lack of confidence. See the first point above… Within the belly dance community, you might find examples of cattiness, yes, but my overall experience has been of a diverse, wonderful group of women -and some men- that can become really good friends and will be incredibly supportive of each other.
  • you are never too old to dance, or to have fun. Within our Egyptian group, we have a seventy-something-year-old lady, who does have some hearing problems, and some mobility issues, but that hasn’t deter her. She started dancing about 12 years ago, at the ripe old ago of sixty-something. She still comes to the parties and dances, and still attends class. I wish I can get to that age with as much energy as her!
  • practice makes a lot of difference, try to sneak in some practice during down times (think cooking, ironing, watching TV); it doesn’t have to be a full dance, or even a full move, but practicing small things like belly rolls or floreos while talking on the phone or watching a movie will help your muscular memory loads, without requiring you to set up a dance studio at home
  • learn from as many teachers as you can. I know stepping out into the wide wild world can be intimidating, and viewing other styles of belly dancing that are not your own might even feel a bit strange, but they all have their merits, and it is quite likely that most will have something to teach you. Don’t discard what they might have to offer.
  • watch other styles of dancing, and I don’t mean things like Dancing with the Stars (although you can), but try to watch pros doing what they do best: who knows, you might be able to understand where some moves come from, or how they’ve influenced other styles, you might get inspired, gain a better understanding of stage dynamics of different styles… the possibilities are endless!
  • and finally, for now, happiness is not a size. Not even a few lost sizes or kgs. Being happy within your own skin will make you glow from within; if you want to loose the weight, and you do loose it, then good for you. But don’t make your weight dictate your life. You can start dancing NOW, you can start taking those classes NOW, you can perform in public NOW… and of course you can make new friends NOW, find that new job NOW, or find that special person NOW. Don’t make yourself wait for that weight loss that might or might not happen to do what you want to do.

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