I am so thankful for this dance and for each of the dancers past and present who have shared their love of this art with the world. That is this path; the long journey as part of a larger pattern – all of us dancing and sharing the beauty of the moment.
I believe that anyone can learn this dance form. There are no limits to me. No matter your gender, shape, size, natural ability, talent, or age, if you are driven and dedicated to this art, you will continue to improve and be able to express yourself through dance. Sometimes students ask me for my own personal thoughts about dancing, so I would like to share these with you to help you better know me as a performer and an instructor.
It is a way to reconnect with my body and to be present in the moment. As an academic, my mind is always racing down multiple paths, twisting and winding its way to find the answers I seek.
When I dance, all of that superfluous chatter and those constant processes in my head are finally stilled. The instant translation of music to movement and emotion takes precedence over the miasma of research, work, past, present and future – leaving me experiencing each moment fully as it happens. Even just feeling the joy of the control of my movements and how my muscles interact to create them is a freeing part of the dance.
Being able to share how I feel while dancing through such an ephemeral art and to know that my interpretation is being appreciated is a form of communication. I have always been entranced by the combination of multiple sensory perception types into a cohesive communication tool – in this case, auditory, visual and even kinesthetic communications media are at work from both dancer to audience and audience to dancer. This communication is increased a thousand fold when dancing in ensemble.
In some ways, teaching is the most difficult and most rewarding part of dancing for me. When a new student enters class, I am not only there to teach her or him, but also to learn from them – how their body moves, what experiences they bring to the dance, how their essence will translate through their dancing. I adore the moment when I can see the information turning into knowledge for them. I teach a very technique and historic/anthropological based class because that is my background, so it is especially important to me that my students are able to incorporate their own life into the larger fabric of this dance’s history. Watching them grow and become dancers on their own is very fulfilling and makes me part of a long chain of teachers – passing knowledge dancer to dancer through time.
When I watch others dance, I feel privileged that they are willing to share their interpretation of the music with me. Each of us is shaped by our past and by our wishes for the future and, therefore, each has a very different story to tell through dance. I love being able to participate in the dancers’ lives through the dance they share with me.
(excerpt from published chapter in Stories from Inside the Mirror: A Belly Dance Anthology; updated 2011)