Gilded Serpent presents...
The Healing Power of Dance
Understanding Ourselves Through Movement
those dancers who have never heard of me, please allow me to
first introduce myself. My dance name is Sharifa and I have been
involved in performing and teaching Middle Eastern dance for
31 years. I have chosen a low profile in the dance world, after
having been burnt out by bitter competitions, gossip, and games
I don't wish to play in order to be"renowned". I was
a single parent most of this time, trying out relationships that
didn't work, raising my son without help, as well as working
fulltime shift work. But as rough as it was for me, I continued
my teaching and performing, not so much for the money or the
fame, but because dancing has been my personal therapy. Now that
I have become a licensed psychotherapist, having completed extra
training and experience in therapy through expressive arts, I
am able to integrate my education with my experience as a dance
mentor, coach, and teacher. Through this integration, I can now
write about my observations of dancers and healing interventions
with dancers, with some credibility.
my hope that I can guide you on a path to explore how your
own needs have been met through the dance; and if you are
a teacher, discover how you can assist others to reconnect
with lost or unexplored, parts of the self.
I cannot think
of a better way to start except to pose to you the question, "What
attracts people to the dance, in the first place?"
Answers often are:
"I want to surprise my boyfriend, husband."
"I want to look, dance, or act sexier."
"I need more exercise, to lose weight."
...and so on.
If you look beyond the superficial answers, the first thing you see is
that many people do not accept themselves as they are. Many dancers,
especially, suffer from low self-esteem and are looking for some way
to transform themselves into a sexier, thinner, more self-confidant,
more feminine version. Others go into the dance with a healthier self-esteem
and want to add to their talents.
How many people
do you know in this category? Fun-seekers, dabblers, and artists
may be in this smaller category, but they don't remain interested
very long, because this dance isn't something they really "need" to
nourish and heal their spirit. They don't become enamored to
this dance, unlike those who need it as therapy.
dancer enthusiasts I have encountered come from wounded
are those in which the child has been treated in any way that
is less than nurturing. The scars of this maltreatment are low
self-worth, lack of a clear identity-"who am I?" and
a belief that one is defective in some way. These traits may
be unconscious, as the person goes through life looking for some
person or some thing to complete them and make them feel whole.
A nurturing childhood, in contrast, can produce an adult who
has had her developmental needs met and does not show the world
how "needy" she is, for men, money, adoration, sex
and other addictive attractions (which is not to say that all
of these items mentioned are necessarily addictions). To this
person, belly dancing has a different meaning. They can take
it or leave it, and still feel great about themselves.
saying that belly dancing is an addiction, or is it a therapy?
If Belly Dancing
is not a job or a business, it may be defined as an addiction
by the following test: If you spend a majority of your time around
dance activity so that it takes you away from more important
priorities in life (for example: your job, family care, important
relationships). When the avoidance of ordinary responsibilities
is consistently resulting in negative consequences, your dance
activity may be seen, by definition, as an "addiction" by
psychotherapists. Two nights a week is moderate, healthy involvement.
However, the point is that this dance can become an obsession
when you start getting your needs for attention met, and you
start realizing the emotional and physical benefits inherent
in dancing. As long as you can see your dancing as a healthy
part of yourself that you can chose to enact at the appropriate
time and place, it is what I call a "Healthy Obsession" just
like your favorite music you may play every time you get into
time…examples of how belly dancing has healed life-long
wounds and how regular practice can build self-esteem and
get you through your life's challenges.
Legend of Julius Squeezer by Sharifa
San Francisco's Marketplace of Treasures! by Princesse
to his culture as one would see at Cairo's famous bazaar, the Khan
of the Spirit by Sierra Suraci
Know what are you contributing - either
to their dilution as a people or the strengthening of their true
Words about the Whimsy of Costume, A Review of The Costume
Flattering Costume for Bellydancers by Krista Book 1 in Dina's