Empowerment, Trance Dance and the “Belly” in Belly Dance.

something was making me laugh....

I came across this older blog entry last night and upon reading it, I realized there were some good things in this entry that bore saying again, but with an update for Spring, 2011.

Lady Nyo

Empowerment and Transformation?

This has been a part of an ongoing discussion I have had with other belly dancers and with women outside this particular dance form.

One woman replied to an blog posting recently:

I think of my own practice, and I know that dancing transforms my thinking, my moods and in some very fundamental way, grounds me. It also transforms me, my body over a period of time, but my head. too. I think my head even more fundamentally.

this is the heart of it for you. You are lucky you can feel this way about something.

Sometimes I have led myself astray. I have tested the waters of different things, disciplines I was not prepared for. I should have stayed on the porch. There are different ways to sum up these experiences.

It is always good to take stock of where you are and where you are going.

When in “trouble” sometimes it’s best to fall back on the very things you love best.

Those things have been writing, painting and belly dance. Gardening has potential, but I let the sun and rain do the major work. I just add compost.

Sometimes I am primarily one thing, and then….I am the other. The trick is not to discard one for the other, because all are now integrated into me. I pull from these things for life and creativity. This, I believe, is the usual path for creative women. Sometimes it’s a problem of the Quaker saying: “Hiding your Light under a bushel.” We are embarrassed with our hard earned riches. We shouldn’t be.

I posed some questions to friends who have taken up this “dance of life” , also called belly dance.

What are our aims in coming to this particular dance?

I know I have struggled with many issues over the past 7 years; it varies for every woman, but there are some commonalities. Is it ego identity as to who and what we are? Is it to ‘heal’ deep wounds brought about by a lifetime of abuse/ self-abuse? Do we just see it as a ‘creative’ outlet? (It probably is all the above.)

Is it from a place of self-loathing? Do we feel non-sensual or lacking in beauty? Do we give so much to others that we have nothing, or little for ourselves? Have we become disembodied where we live in our heads and our bodies are just….there? (This can be a problem for writers…we can develop lard asses and dull complexions from sitting so long and writing.)

We bring EVERYTHING into the dance. We work those issues out within the movement.

We can work these things out piece by piece by being ‘present and mindful’ in the movement. And the movement will transform us, slowly at first, and then, one day, we look back and we shake our heads in wonder. How much we’ve grown, how far we have traveled.

On second thought, this issue of Hyperarousal Trance (Dance) isn’t ‘being present and mindful’ in the movement. It’s quite the opposite. It’s exactly what it is named: trance….in this case through dance. But 4 or 5 years ago, I discovered it in belly dance, and a few of those older dancers out there understand what I am talking about. I got the best reinforcement and explanations from some very handsome Flamenco male musicians one night: they deeply understood what the zar trance dance was, and were glad to talk about it. It made me investigate this phenomenon for two years and out of this research came “The Zar Tales”, published in 2010. )

And this issue of self-loathing? Over and over I hear from women who ‘hate their bellies’. I can totally relate! I went through a long stretch of hating my belly, too. Then I suddenly made ‘peace’ with it. I will never be flat bellied again, but then .…

Belly dance isn’t ‘long hair’ dance, or ‘arm dance’ or ‘hidden feet’ dance….it’s BELLY dance…and for a reason.

The belly is the seat of our femininity. It’s not the hidden vagina, it’s the outward expression of our bellies, as they grow with children, shrink back with stretch marks, and we seem to define ‘it’ and ourselves by trying to make it disappear. We hold our stomachs in tightly until we can’t move….

….or breathe!

Well, along comes Tribal Fusion and here is presented the BELLY in all it’s glory! Those stomach movements that Rachel Brice, Zoe Jakes, all of them, are very liberating…Snakes in the belly, indeed!

(Undulations that express the very essence of our femininity, our being women. As generators and cradles of life.)

I attended a master class in Montreal a few years ago and I was glad to see that the teacher, Audra Simmons from Toronto, had a belly on her. She has 4 children and this is the natural way of things. Our bodies expand and contract with life.

We are not flat assed/bellied/titted men…We are full blown women with dangerous curves and belly dance gives us a dangerous attitude, too.

Given enough time, it’s called Empowerment. A realization of our Femininity, a fulfillment of our innate Sexuality.

And we should have fun dancing….it’s not all sweat, sore muscles (but it is in the beginning…) and serious attitude.

This is a very funny video….I screamed with laughter, because that is good for life. We should have more laughter.


More later….

Lady Nyo …who has moved beyond the name….”Teela”.

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4 Responses to “Empowerment, Trance Dance and the “Belly” in Belly Dance.”

  1. Katie Says:

    l loved THE VIDEOS! Belly dancing is so much more than just making the bells jingle on the costume.

    I appreciate your reminder that we are WOMEN and have BELLIES-as well as everything else. Today I was despairing of ever getting rid of the excess weight on my belly and waist area. I realize, again, that I need more exercise (Winter has done a terrible thing to me!) but I also need to worry less about back fat. Once I’m walking regularly again, and exercising, the rest will take care of itself
    You know, your remarks made me feel better about the loose skin on my neck, too. I’m 57 and I’ve LIVED. Some good, some truly terrible, but it has been my life and the lines and sagging skin are there for a reason.

    OK, thanks for the pep talk-we women seem to need that from each other on a regular basis. I thank you for being one of the women I can always count on for a reality check when I need it.


  2. ladynyo Says:

    ROTF! Katie! I remember MANY TIMES over the past 4 years when you listened to me whimpering on and gave me excellent advice. As I am still older than thou, it’s good that I can give some encouragement here…things are never in place, and some things are look like they are falling off…but we try, we try. Most times. LOL! Some days we just bypass mirrors and put our eyeliner on with our eyes closed.

    Belly dance: well, it has been a very powerful propellant in my life….TO life. There was a time where I really didn’t think I was long for the living. I had fallen desperately ill (pancreatic issues…serious ones) and I felt like I was dead, or at least heading for the ground. I missed one of the more important venues to dance, in Montreal, because of this illness that lasted 6 months…knocking out a performance for me, but I recovered. The best of this I can say is this: I made some great friends, Audra Simmons of The Dark Side Studio in Ontario, and yesterday received an email from her. Friends like that you don’t disregard. She’s a marvelous teacher and I learned so much more from her.

    We are marked with the trauma of our lives…good and bad. Our smiles come from our joy, and our crows feet come from whatever crows feet come from…crows I guess in the gene pool? LOL~

    I spent years loathing my body: for no good reason, too. I have a loving husband who loves every part of me….(or so he tells me) and this makes me relax….maybe too much…LOL!

    We have bought into such ridiculous expectations of ourselves. We forget the real value of us: our compassion, our expanding intelligence and our empathy. To hell with sagging skin. There are a lot of exercises for the neck THAT WORK….so do turtlenecks….LOL!

    We have bought into such stupid ideas….tv, fashion, etc…and I just choke when I see some of these ‘men’ who are pushing these ridiculous fashions on women. They obviously hate women…or they wouldn’t design such things…shoes especially. Who in HELL can wear 4-5 inch heels??? And walk???

    Belly dance is for ALL women, regardless of fat, age, or activity level. You start out slow, unfocus your eyes in front of those large mirrors….and then you start to find your body obeying the internal rhythms through the external music. There is magic in those cds!

    If you set a timer for yourself, for 5 minutes a day, you will find that you are toning up faster than you would think possible. Just dancing, it doesn’t have to be formal Turkish/Egyptian belly dance…it can be just improv. and what what happens over time.

    In fact, and I have written extensively on this issue….when we find that belly dance isn’t fun anymore, or has become boring or routine….that means we are not doing something right.

    Belly dance is touching something primal and deep within ourselves. Belly dance is an ultimate expression of our bodies abilities to move and to transform. And there are some very powerful mind issues in this dance, and Hyperarousal Trance is just one of them.

    The patterning we start to develop can take us through life. When I think I won’t dance again, I think I have grown tired of living.

    Thank you, Katie….there are so many good things in life, neh? Friends are on the top of the list.



  3. bluebee Says:

    “I should have stayed on the porch.” – love that and “dangerous curves” 😉 And, yes, we should definitely have more laughter. I think, we have those ridiculous expectations of ourselves because of what is put out there as ‘the norm’ – give me real people anyday, not the vacuous clothes horses and so-called beautiful people. One of the good things that can come with age is being comfortable (but not complacent) in our skin. bb


  4. ladynyo Says:

    I agree, Bluebee. I think the frustration for the majority of people is thinking that they have to live up to or compete with some outlandish standard of beauty, etc.

    Who is setting the standards? LOL!. Some maturity gives some comfort, we become more ‘of ourselves’ and that comes only after a long period of living….and developing character and wisdom.

    Laughter is the best medicine for most things that ail us: we take ourselves so seriously, our feelings are hurt so easily. When we mature we should attempt to reverse this.

    Women are so beautiful in themselves, but don’t recognize their own natural beauty. In belly dance there is a certain artificiality that goes against this, but I still think that belly dance, it’s potential for the body, transcends all of this stuff.

    And when you come up against someone who attempts to be so critical, close your ears!

    Thank you, Bluebee…for reading and your sensible comment.

    Lady Nyo


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