Why I Love Bellydance
– by Tamara Farranti
“Wait, wait . . . almost got it, almost got it!”
Those are the words I kept saying to myself as I awkwardly struggled to move like a graceful belly dancer. Laughing at myself, I recalled years where I rejected any kind of dance. Like many little girls, I wanted at one time or another to be a ballet dancer, or learn to tap dance or ice skate, but my parents could never afford lessons. In my late teens, I was introduced to guitar and have been playing in bands ever since. I didn’t dance. Oh, no. I played the music so that OTHER people could dance!
Neena and Veena were my first belly dance instructors – on video in the privacy of my own home. I learned the basics, and I found it a fun way to keep fit.
I mustered the courage to enroll in a class at Cerritos College, and have been addicted ever since! Tonya Chianis’s class was a great place to start, with students of all levels and a challenging but supportive environment. No matter how much I got frustrated with myself, I always came back to class for more. “Wait, wait . . . almost got it, almost got it!”
Over the years I have had classes with Fahtiem, Abraiha, Taji, Kamar, Marina Darowish and recently tribal classes with Alexiis and Katerina. One of my most memorable moments was when my husband hired Tamra-henna to give a private lesson and show for my friends and me on my birthday at a Moroccan restaurant. Her almost superhuman grace and fluid precision remind me of why I have fallen in love with this dance.
I love belly dancing because the movement, music and costumes can transport the viewer to another place and time. It is enchanting, mesmerizing and, most of all, transforming. The dancer becomes someone else and movement has to be the form of communication. It has helped me to become my best in everything that I do including being more comfortable in my own body. I may never be good enough to become a professional belly dancer, but it is fun trying. “Wait, wait . . . almost got it, almost got it!”
The camaraderie of the women that I have met through dancing is refreshing and delightful. What a joy it is to find someone else who thinks about dancing all the time and hopes that no one sees them practicing their shimmies at work while at the copy machine or rehearsing moves in the bathroom mirror when no one is around. Through this camaraderie I learned to let go and love life. Now I love belly dance because it allows me to be self-indulgent!
And this is a gift. I was always shy and self-conscious, mostly because I was teased when I was growing up. All those joyful moments I missed as a child, I am now making up and enjoying as an adult – through belly dance.