Belly Dance Epiphany

I haven't written much here about belly dancing. And there's a reason, I've been on belly dance hiatus for awhile.

I stopped teaching when I moved to Alabama in the summer of 2005 (from Toronto, where I had just started teaching). I had a baby. I didn't meant to make it a long term hiatus, but that's what happened. I performed every so often but stopped my daily practice, stopped teaching, stopped obsessing about belly dance online...

And then last fall I found hoop dance and really started thinking hard about my relationship to belly dance. I knew I didn't want to declare I was "in retirement" (as some other friends have done). I love the belly dance community a lot. I just feel like an outsider, after all these years...

You see, there's a reason for my hiatus. An embarrassing, soul-hurting reason.

I let someone's criticism tell me I was not good enough. Worse, that as a non-Arab, I shouldn't even be trying to belly dance. (My logical mind fought that point of view, I have heard it before and never believed it, but this time I let it eat at me... it fed into my downward spiral, when I was at my lowest point in my battle with depression. And it came after a particularly difficult workshop where I really questioned my worth as a dancer because I felt so very out of place... until we got to the folklore, and then I was back at home!) I let my own doubts keep me on the fringes of the dance community, instead of leaping back in after our move.

I stopped attending the few belly dance events in my area for a year and a half. And then last year, I decided that it was time to stop letting this poison eat further into me. I went to a student dance show. And then invited myself to dance at another (which ended up being a very wise decision on my part, since it became part of my healing process from the miscarriage, to dance in that event). But I still had mixed feelings about myself as a dancer. I was overly critical, without wanting to put in the work to fix the issues I was criticizing. Without actually practicing, there is no growth. Without actually dancing, there is no dance.

And then we moved again (to here in New Jersey). And I find myself once again in the strange position of having to find a new dance community. And that brought it all up again. "Not good enough." "Why bother, you are just another Tribal Fusion clone..." My inner critic does know how to hurt me, yes indeed.

Hooping brings me joy but it is still just a prop. And while the prop is fun, it is limiting in a way that my own body is not. (Mostly because I am a complete n00b when it comes to hooping and I've had over 28 years to practice belly dancing... and to mix in all the other dance forms that make my dance unique.)

I've been putting on my belly dance stations on Pandora again. I'm going to grow. I'm going to practice. I'm going to dance my dance again. I'm going to drown out the critical voices by sweating my prayers.