posted November 25, 2009
Was I so aware of my body before I danced? The curvature of my hip, the round bulge in my calf, the stretched skin over my rib cage as I reached toward heaven? These are the beautiful images evoked when I think of belly dance: strong, beautiful lines created through long practices, training and through sheer love for the art form.
Whether these lines and curves are found on a petite 110 lb. woman or on the supple, full-bodied temptress is of no consequence. The shapes and lines of a dancer’s body all speak the same language. They tell a story of passion for living life, an intense sisterly bond and the unbreakable connection with a higher power; whether it’s the Great Goddess or God, Mother Earth, Father Time or The Great Nothing.
A dancer’s body is in tune and locked into this higher power by sheer force of nature and no one, not even the dancer herself, can break that bond.
When the times come that I struggle with a lack of motivation, when dancing becomes like work, when I experience “choreographer’s block,” I must call upon this assurance; that I am inexplicably linked to this higher power; that the lines and curves of my body were created for this purpose. And the quickest, the most effective, the easiest way to do this is to watch my sisters dance. When my love feels fickle, when it is waning, they are the ones who save me from myself, and reaffirm the great connection between my dancer’s body, mind and soul with this great, mysterious existence.
When you are feeling lost inside a lull, take the time to enjoy yourself and your sisters. Stifle the urge to “accomplish” something, find the perfect song, or to reach technical perfection. Search for the burning in your breast you felt in the early days, when you lacked all the training, when during the infancy of your belly dance life you just moved on instinct, felt the primordial pulse in your veins and surrendered to this new and unfamiliar feeling.
Watch your sisters with those newborn eyes you once possessed in your early dancing days. When you watch their bodies curve and twist, shake and vibrate, surrender to the inexplicable electric force that connects you to them like the blood of family and let it teach you. Never underestimate the power of learning by watching. Not only does it inspire, but it keeps our deep inner connection with our higher power strong, keeps it fresh and young, with the intensity of new love and infatuation. If we never lose that, we never lose our drive to better ourselves for ourselves and no-one else.
We never lose our curious need to be sisters, to stay close to others who share our love for the dance, and we never fall away from what for many of us is the most joyful feeling we have ever experienced. Stay close to your sisters and learn from them every day. Spend quality time with them, in a relaxed environment that promotes communication and an enrichment of your friendships.
Each time you witness a friend’s performance, treat the experience as though it were your first.
You will be rewarded with learning something new at every bend in your journey, and you will take with it a renewed inspiration and affection for the dance.
photo by Brad Dosland
Ready for more?
- 10-8-08 Dance – Deeper than the Moves
A dancer who feels “safe” in the rhythm, footwork, technical movement feels grounded and secure as she dances. A grounded dancer will be less "in
her head” and allow the authenticity of feeling to come through her body as a flowing, emotive movement that expresses the music and how she “feels” the music.
- 3-7-06 Streets of Cairo- Egyptian Rhythm, Language and Dance
Cairo’s streets are much like its dance – streams of freestyle movement guided by intuition rather than rules. There are no ‘principles’ as such in both circumstances – it’s the organic-ness of Egyptian life that creates order in chaos.
- 10-22-09 Chelum, a Transcendent State
They call it chelum, another Turkish term in the Eastern Macedonian dialect. It refers to a transcendent state of dance and music enjoyment fueled by tapanje, zurli, darabouki, tamburi, and of course the ubiquitous Rakija.
- 11-24-09 New Archive Page- Gigbag Checks!
Video interviews with artists backstage before or after the show. Twenty videos listed so far, more to come!
- 11-17-09 Welcome to the Eleventh Giza Awards, Honoring the Dancers and Videographers of Middle Eastern Dance
Ever since the dark ages of 1997, the Giza Academy of Music and Legends of Dance has honored dancers and videographers who have explored the art of Middle Eastern dance through film and video. Documenting and sharing our dance provides opportunities for preservation, teaching and furthering our art. The following report was created from the notes for that night
- 11-16-09 Naked Belly Dance in Ancient Egypt, Part 2: Are They Really Naked?
What does nudity mean in a dance scene like this? And does this nudity reflect an actual practice of naked dancing as banquet entertainment?
- 11-11-09 Ahlan Wa Sahlan Festival, Page 3: Winners and Closing Gala,