Stealing Souls, Healing Souls…..The Magic of Belly Dance

from Delilah's "Visionary Dance" site.  Delilah is a good dancer and a friend in Seattle

from Delilah's "Visionary Dance" site. Delilah is a good dancer and a friend in Seattle

If anyone reads this blog, they will come to know I am now a belly dance teacher.  A new one, but it is beginning to be quite a journey.

I have been thinking how teaching changes you.  In some ways, it has the potential, and should….to radically change you.  You are collecting your information and experience and passing it around.  You change your whole attitude, from one who ‘leads’ to one who serves.  And you do. But you grow through serving.

Of course you still lead, because you lead by example:  movement, positions, attitude, etc…These are the things you transfer to students.  But it is much more:  The radical changes in you can be instant.  You are more concerned with THEM, how they are picking up the lessons, the movements,  the potential for the dance.  You are concerned with what they are finding out about themselves, and this is the point.

You are concerned about their growth and joy.  You feed from it.

Belly Dance has the ability to radically reconstruct lives.  It’s not only in the transformation of bodies, the found flexibility, the delight in knowing  you are working to a sort of personal perfection, but it’s more. It’s a mental process: it’s in the attitude about a whole lot of things.

I have seen women (myself years ago) who were shy to move, self-conscious about their bodies, thinking that what they were as women was way beyond what they were seeing on stage:  That these graceful  and POWERFUL dancers were really mortals. That what they were doing was attainable.

It’s so much more than the physical presence of looking like a belly dancer.  The mental process is kick- ass and a dynamic that will pull you through death to life again.

A week ago I went with a student to a book signing and talk-to-the-author at our local library.  The author had survived breast cancer and was a physical therapist.  This was no young, personal trainer sort of therapist, she was grey haired and serious looking.  She looked like a nun.  She had written a book recently, with a lot of photos of exercises to do after a mastectomy.

We all went through the steps, and they were basically Tai Chi.  Good enough…..but they were so slight in her hands, that they were almost non-existent.   I wondered  is  this from the physical and mental devastation of cancer, or something different?   Since the surgery is done in the chest, there must be muscle restrictions for a while.  But what I missed was the ‘range’ of movement I am now so used to doing and seeing in others.

This physical therapist speaks from her own personal experience.  Others speak from their own.

But I found no joy in the demonstration.  Belly dance has come to mean something different to me.

Belly dance, when done for a longer time, is a transforming power. It goes quickly from the physical to the mental.  Perhaps the mental is driving the body.  There are so many avenues to explore with belly dance.  Self-expression, (improvisation) choreography, a physical strengthening, a graceful , endurance dancing, etc.

But perhaps the greatest is the Healing of Belly Dance.  I almost wrote ‘potential’ of Belly Dance, but that is untrue…at least to my experience.  It is concrete, bedrock, fundamental  when  learned, even in the beginning…and it  colors just about every sphere of my life now.

Last year at this time I fell seriously ill.  Well, it cost a lot, even with insurance.  I was hospitalized 3 times in October, and still there was nothing they could definitely pin the horrible pains in the stomach.  Lots of stupid tests and repeats.

I was sick enough that I couldn’t perform in Montreal in January, but I was able to make the master class of 4 hours duration.  It was worth the trip alone to work with Audra Simmons.

When I came home, I was elated by the class and watching this wonderful performance by various dancers and various core disciplines.  But I was still sick.   I wrote a lot of stuff this spring, thinking the mental exercises of a particular exorcism would cure me and still the pain was there.  I was avoiding the very thing that would pull me through, mentally, emotionally and physically.  I started teaching but only limited myself because I was tired and without energy.

Only when I started practicing for myself….and started to make a little get- your –ass- back- in- motion routine did I start to perk up and mentally cleaned house.  When I made a fuller commitment to myself the healing could begin.

This fall I started to teach more students….and it’s twice a week now.  I have been asked to teach a belly dance class at the library, and have been offered the usage of a good, large room at another neighborhood center.  I want that to be after the first of the year, ….perhaps and good.  I’ll see what life has in store for me, then.

I do know that I am very fortunate in the students I have.  They are interested in the spiritual, healing nature of what we are exploring, and they are making great strides even this early.  When they ‘catch fire’ and start to practice at home, on a regular basis, they will fly.

I am thinking of exploring this issue of trance, Hyperarousal Trance, with them.  They have already seen me dance a couple of times where I went into trance state very easily.  They are curious. And because it comes about from the physical repetition of movement, added by the natural  ‘muscle memory’ that is the core, it is theoretically attainable to any dancer.  They want to learn this, but I was shying away from it.  Mainly because I didn’t know ‘how’ to teach it.  I still believe that it is an individual progression to trance, and they will find their own ways.

But I can’t help but think how easily it will be for them if their paths are anything like mine:  the repetition of movement that trains us and makes those movements fluid and flexible, in part ‘removes our head’ from the process and allows us to float to other ‘places’.

We sit on the floor for breaks (one time the class lasted 2 full hours) and talk about how our bodies are feeling, how  especially how their minds are reacting to new and untried things, concepts.  They want to ‘try’ trance, you can see it in their eyes!  And when they get there?  They will be on fire with the magic of Belly Dance.

And they will be healing, too.


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2 Responses to “Stealing Souls, Healing Souls…..The Magic of Belly Dance”

  1. shia1 Says:

    How good it is to read this. You sound so dedicated and excited to teach other people the art of belly dancing.

    Good for you, a class at the library? You are doing really well.

    Your students are lucky they have someone so intuned with their own body and wanting to teach others to do the same.

    Interesting topic as always and I hope I can find the right video!



  2. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Shia!
    Thank you for reading the blog today and leaving a comment. Always appreciated.

    When you want to obtain the (proper…lol!) video, email me and I’ll send you the full title.
    Definitely worth building a core around. We all profit from this.



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