Why I Love Belly Dance
In January 2002, my fourth and last son was just three years old. I decided I needed to do something that would help me reclaim the person I was before becoming a mother. For over ten years I had devoted myself to bearing and raising our family. I had enjoyed that time, knowing that I was fulfilling my own best purpose in life, but I had come to the point where my children did not need me as intensely or continuously. I had already begun to reclaim my body from the expansions and contractions of pregnancy and breastfeeding, the lack of sleep and practical versus stylistic fashion. However, I needed to rediscover things I had set aside for the sake of my “mummy” role.
Going back to teaching or getting a part-time job was not right for our family and not really what I needed anyway. So I decided to take a short recreational course. Soon after making this decision an acquaintance mentioned taking a belly dance class and my interest piqued. I had seen a belly dancer years before in a restaurant and I had seen belly dancers on TV. I had thought it beautifully sensuous but never something I could do. I didn't have the chutzpah. But at the age of 38, I had come to the conclusion that there were obviously things I wanted to do that were not in the cards and things that I wanted to do which were in my power to explore - confidence, or lack thereof, be damned. I realized it's better to try and fail than never to have tried at all. Excited, I immediately got out the phone book and started searching. It was an excruciating few weeks waiting for that first class to start.
That fateful day, I walked into class nervously looking at the other women there. Then I looked at the teacher. With her long black hair, lacy, shiny coin scarf and oodles of confidence I was uncertain about how I might do. But then began those basic isolations all belly dancers are intimately familiar with. I was exhilarated and giddy. I was hooked!
Thus began a passionate love affair with belly dance and all things related. It struck a chord of joyful expression that connects me to the Divine in earthy, humorous and, yes, spiritual ways. Singers must sing, painters must paint, writers must write. There is no choice. It is something they are compelled to do because in the doing they fulfill their highest and best potential. I must be a wife and mother but I must also dance.
I am not a professional belly dancer and I will probably never be known outside my small dance community. But I am driven to drill, practice and perform as if I was preparing for a stellar career. It doesn't matter that the world will not see my accomplishments. It does matter that I keep dancing.
January 29th, 2008
IAMED (International Academy of Middle Eastern Dance) Essay Contest