Why I Love Bellydance
– by Candice Coleman
I had always been attracted to the idea of belly dance and took a couple of classes when in my 20’s, but like most of my endeavors in those days, I didn’t stick with it. Many years later a boyfriend of mine made the comment, “My Mom belly dances; yup, my Dad’s a lucky guy.” He made it sound like a mathematical equation: Mom bellydances = Dad’s a lucky guy. When I asked him how old his mother was, he said, “65, but you’d never know it.” Somehow hearing this reinspired me, for real this time, to take up a serious study of bellydancing. The first teacher I located wasn’t a good one. I didn’t give up, though, and found a dancing haven with my first real teacher.
Walking into her studio, with its fluffy cotton clouds and blue sky painted above and racks of brightly beaded purple and aqua costumes lining the sides of the room, I felt like I’d come home. The generous goddess energy was unmistakeable, as was the welcoming feeling.
As a newcomer to belly dance, I felt and looked, when dancing, as stiff as the tin man in “The Wizard of Oz.” I’d been sitting at desks for years, and though I had been a pretty fanatical exerciser, it had all been “inside the box.” Very American, very linear, very squared off.
It took me a long, long time to loosen up, and even longer to open up the energy in the core of my body so that I could feel the dance inside myself. My wonderful teacher, Gazelle, was very accepting. Right from the beginning, I was given opportunities to perform and express myself, even though I was brand new.
The long process of becoming a dancer has made me feel like a baby chicken pecking its way out of the eggshell. Gradually and by degrees through practice, I gained more and more comfort and familiarity with moving the different muscle groups in my body. From snake arms to figure 8’s to camels, all the moves became over time more fluid and effortless. Along with that came more and more centeredness in my own body. An incredibly empowering journey!
Today after ten years of classes, workshops and practice with dvd’s, I am a dancer and a teacher. Because I began belly dance after 40 and had so much to overcome in terms of reaccessing freedom of movement, I’m very aware of the challenges new students face. Teaching newcomers to the dance is extremely rewarding, and I feel I’m able to present the dance to them in a very user-friendly way because of my own experience.
Having instructed teenagers through seniors., I’ve found that the enjoyment and pleasure I’ve seen on peoples faces as they learn to move their bodies in the beautiful forms of belly dance are my biggest satisfaction. Today I teach belly dance at our local YMCA, and our local paper publicized it last week with a wonderful article entitled, “Dance With All You’ve Got” that detailed the many benefits of belly dance.
I feel so privileged to be able to express this art form through my body and to pass it on to others. Self-esteem, self-acceptance, vitality, community, joy and fun are all a part of the ongoing legacy of belly dance, and I’m so grateful to be part of it!