and the Belly Dancer
I used to encourage
every female who seemed remotely interested in belly dance
to give it a try. I said, “It’s great for your self-esteem
and makes you feel pretty. It’s wonderful for feeling empowered
and recovering from abuse.” It wasn’t until recently that I
really examined the validity of that.
You see, at
my first belly dance class, I saw older, heavier (than me)
women who had pretty jingly things on. They moved more gracefully
than I. They hung their large, child birth scarred bellies
out in such a way that I wouldn’t have dared. I thought, “They
must feel pretty good about themselves to look so poised and
lovely.” I wanted that for myself. As I stuck around a while,
my confidence and skill increased and I assumed that I had
reached a new level of higher self-esteem through belly dance,
so belly dance must be a healthy way for all to obtain better
I wondered, why are so many belly dancers jealous, unhappy,
competitive and insecure? Does belly dance really build
to that came to me one day as I was watching a belly dance
show. I sat there enjoying the lovely, playful way that one
dancer connected with her audience. She transformed from a
coy, school girl to a vulnerable, heartbroken woman. She finished
with a strong, fiery drum solo that showed she was powerful
and in charge. The dancer’s body spoke honestly of her experience,
pain, innocence, hope, and joy. She took me along with her.
And all the while, I never thought about whether she was young,
old, beautiful, plain, thin or fat. I just enjoyed her essence
and her soul.
Later I mentally
compared this wonderfully simple performance to some of the
more dynamic performances that were more impressively costumed,
tightly choreographed, and technically executed and I thought
to myself, “Why is this one so much more compelling?” And then
it hit me. Some performers use the goddess role, the sequins,
the Earth Mother persona, or the vamp as another mask to hide
their low self-esteem. They suck energy from the audience and
search for approval. The lady on stage truly seemed to be at
peace with herself just as she was.
hiding anything. She wasn’t trying to make the audience
think or feel anything. She wasn’t asking for anything.
She was just Being one with the music, herself and the
audience. How cool.
It may seem
simplistic, but that moment transformed the way I approach
teaching. I realized that self-esteem doesn’t just come from
being in a belly dance class room. It doesn’t happen by osmosis.
It doesn’t come from dressing up or daring to wear your skirt
below your belly button. It doesn’t come from getting a tattoo
or wearing bright colors. It doesn’t even come from hearing
that you are “elegant and beautiful.” Lots of insecure dancers
have all those things.
seems to me that healthy self-esteem starts with the acceptance
of beauty. That acceptance allows others to see their own. I
now see it as my duty to point out that beauty for those
students who don’t yet have the eyes to see it for themselves.
When X dances
with her sword and veil, one can choose to see technique or
see that she's transformed to another place. She transports
you to a fantasy land for just a moment and shows you the pain
of love lost then the joy of its return. When Y dances, she
tweaks every joyous nuance from the music to make you laugh,
helping you forget any troubles of the day. Z oozes with the
memory of the first experience of being overwhelmed with passion.
and passion take the stage, you don't see stretch marks,
wrinkles, sagging bosoms, or bulging bellies. You can see
the juiciness of life.
And none of
the physical things that we call "beautiful" matter
anymore because the inner beauty is greater than all of that.
Celebrating that beauty can allow us to see that we never were
an ugly duckling. We were always the beautiful swan all along-
and so was everyone else. And that’s where true self-esteem
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Breathing for Better Dance Performance by Taaj
also hold our breath when we concentrate or get nervous. This
brings tension into our bodies. The more tension we have, the
more shallow we breathe. It can become a vicious circle!
Not Me; it’s You: Toxic People and What to
do About Them by Taaj
problem is, sometimes it’s hard for a reasonable person to
tell if she or he is under attack by a toxic person who intends
Contractor or Employee? by Taaj
important thing is that the relationship between worker and payer
be classified correctly for tax purposes so that you are aware
of what taxes and filings you are liable for.
Beach Memories- Casbah Cabaret, Part I Circa 1973 by
performed what I have dubbed “conveyer belt dancing”,
that is three dancers doing three shows each, starting promptly
at 8:30 p.m. without stopping until 2:00 a.m., whether we had an
audience or not.
Belly Dancing in the 1970's: An interview with Azur
Aja by John Clow
Aja (Sharon Wright), a belly dancer from the Nashville Tennessee
area, is endearingly known as ‘The Lady With The Veils’.
Her career has spanned over thirty-five years, and her style
has been influenced by some of the most recognizable names in
American belly dance history.
Elections…What Happened to MECDA’s Democracy? by
most organizations comprised of paying members, only a vote of
the membership can enact any change in its charter.
Dance in Japan Reaches New Heights of Popularity by
Ranya Renee Fleysher
audiences are extremely receptive, supportive and interested
in this form of entertainment.”Conservative elder Japanese
may still disapprove of the sensual aspect of belly dance, but
among the younger generation it is seen as cool and trendy.