Dancing from the soul, Part 1
This past weekend, I had the privilege of being invited to a two hour belly dancing workshop at Nirapa School of Dance. The idea of doing a workshop actually excited me quite a bit! For over the last 18 years I have been dancing as a belly dancer twice a week an hour each class, so the thought of a focused 2 hour session really appealed to me. At this point I feel that I should confess something, over the past few years my dance practice has dwindled and I only get to dance periodically – no excuses necessary, my life’s purpose had other plans, clearly!
But back to the workshop, the idea of the workshop was to divide the various disciplines in belly dancing and pay particular attention to those disciplines. Allowing time to play with the basic concepts and then adding your personal signature to the move. This was incredibly liberating, inspiring and personal!
Before the class began, our instructor, Catherine Daphne Bloomhill, took her time in explaining the purpose of her work, the purpose of the workshop and the importance of being divinely feminine in your dance. She had made an important distinction between dancing from the ego, in basic terms, showing off and dancing from your soul, being one with yourself that even the most basic of moves can look truly magnificent. She gave us the time and space to continuously connect to that essence throughout the workshop.
For me personally, the idea of dancing from the soul, isn’t about the moves (although this is extremely important because without knowing the basic and eventually the more advanced moves, belly dancing just can’t exist). It is about listening to the music, letting the music connect with every fibre of your being. From the tiniest muscles in your fingers to the much larger engaged core muscles in your stomach and back regions. Once you feel the music in the body, you instinctually want to take off. You instinctually want to dance and dance and dance. When I dance and I am in this space, I don’t really care who is watching me and if the move I chose to use was the right one for that beat, because in a roundabout way, it actually was. I guess what I am saying is, if I dance in my true feminine spirit, then every move is right and if someone is watching, it will look perfect, beautiful and magical. Also, if I allow myself to dance like this then it cannot be repeated! Wow, isn’t that an awesome concept, that every time I dance it’s the first time and it can’t be repeated! This is the true feminine way!
For those of you who haven’t belly danced before, I hope I have inspired you to try it out or at least find out more about it. Please allow me to share with you what belly dancing is, with a little bit of a history lesson.
Belly dancing is considered one of the oldest forms of dancing that dates back hundreds of years and can be seen in many African and Middle Eastern countries like India, Egypt, Morocco, Turkey, Lebanon and the like.
Most people know belly dancing as a form of entertaining men and in particular Shaikh’s (the patriarch of a tribe in many Islamic countries) but over the years it has emerged that belly dancing was also used as a ceremony for young girls as a coming of age and at what we now call “a kitchen tea” just before a woman gets married. And in these instances men were not allowed into these spaces.
Belly dancing is natural to a woman’s bone and muscle structure with movements coming from the torso rather than hands and feet. This dance form focuses on isolating different parts of the body, moving them independently in sensuous patterns, weaving together the entire feminine form. Belly dancing is generally done barefoot as many believe that dancing barefoot emphasises the intimate, physical connection between the dancer, her expression and Mother Earth.
What belly dancers wear is just something breath-taking and again something truly feminine. These dancers mostly wear colourful, flowing skirts, tied together with a magnificent coin belt that just adds to their unique dance as it produces sound as they dance. The outfit is further complimented with a sensual bra or short top that shows off the feminine form. The belly is more often than not always exposed purely to extenuate how the different parts of the body move, in the sensuous, weaving pattern as described above. Exotic bracelets, necklaces and ear rings complete the look.
Props galore are used a plenty with belly dancers, everything from veils, to finger symbols to candelabras, snakes, vessels and of course FIRE!!!!
That concludes part 1 of our belly dance feature. Catch me next week Tuesday for part 2.
To catch a workshop in SA or to partake in lessons, please contact Nirapa School of Dance on 0836509283 or firstname.lastname@example.org
My abundant love and gratitude to you always,
Katherine Dawson Health Republic
Information cited from www.bellydance.org