Dance is Fun – Before I took any formalized dance classes I enjoyed dancing every chance I could get. I attended nearly every junior high and high school social dance, and I went out a lot in college and spent lots of time on the dance floor. I tried Country line dancing, a brief attempt at West Coast Swing, and lots of solo wiggling around, I found dance to be really fun. 13 years ago I went to a Belly Dance class with a friend, she went to another few classes and stopped, I’ve been going strong ever since. Alongside Belly Dance I have explored other dance styles, Hip Hop, Dancehall, Flamenco, Bollywood, Bhangra, Polynesian, and Turkish Roma. Each dance style reminds me of the joy I gain through moving my body.
Love of Performance – I love the creative exchange that happens when presenting myself to an audience. I want them to come along on my journey. I find the shared experience to be very fulfilling and I am always looking for new ways to engage with my audience. Some performances are more about delving into themes or expressions, some are purely for the fun party. I wouldn’t perform if an audience wasn’t present to give it’s energy and receive mine.
Community – The relationships that I have developed with fellow students, dancers, teachers, mentors are things I value a great deal. This is a social dance form with artistic elements that needs a community base for it to grow. This growth also depends on our connections outside the belly dance world; studio communities, our neighborhoods where students come from, the cities we offer our classes in, our political groups, our families, our friends, our spaces for worship or reflection, every connection from ourselves out into the global community. Dance keeps me engaged with the ebb and flow of my communities, I thrive being a part of a great big living system.
Physical Health – Being a dancer means being real with my physical body. I started dance after my children were born and my body does not have a natural inclination toward mobility or flexibility. This means I have to be committed to pursuing ways to support my physical health so I can stay dancing for a very long time. I do this through staying up to date on necessary healthcare, massage, nourishing foods, hydration, regular walks, and fitness classes. Since I love community, I enjoy doing things with other people. Yoga classes, group fitness workouts, walking with at least one other person are the main ways I keep my body moving. Dance has encouraged me to take better care of myself so that I’m less prone to injury or illness. It also encourages me to take good care of myself when injured or ill.
Emotional Wellbeing – Dance is also a mindfulness practice. I have learned how to stay connected to awareness and breath so I can understand what I am experiencing. Even when I’m not dancing I have a better sense of bodily sensations and the emotions connected to them, I can then move with more flow in my life. Dance has pointed me in the direction of other healing practices and movement modalities that encourage emotional awareness and integration.
Exploring Musicality – I’ve been a musician most of my life. I started playing piano at age 5 after I got curious about a piano book at home and taught myself how to read the music. I took weekly lessons and practiced daily until age 13, when I switched to learning the flute. With piano and flute I became proficient and enjoyed participating in music through church and school. In high school I switched to choir, again being a proficient singer. Playing instruments and singing just wasn’t enough, I needed dance to get closer to how I wanted to express my relationship to music and songs. It was through some music shared with me by a family member that I realized that I needed to learn how to dance to it. I later found out the song that moved me so much was “Enta Omri” by Om Kolthum. It set me on a trajectory of continuing education and exploration.
These are some of the reasons why I dance. I would love to hear yours. Please share in the comments.
xoxo and shimmies