I ran away to the Arabian Nights.
Okay, so I’m romanticising, but it was Middle Eastern dance, aka belly dance, that took me in, gave me shelter, and began to heal my soul.
What exactly the deeper significance the dance has for me is something I’m still pondering. Some would say it’s to do with the sacred feminine, but I shy away from any mystical talk these days. And I still have a deeply ingrained wariness of anything spiritual that’s not strictly within what I was taught in my younger years.
I think I love it because it helps me be in the moment. For someone who spent so long waiting for my life to start, this is incredibly important.
I think I love it because I do it for me. Not for a higher purpose, not to impress anyone (well, maybe my husband), not to change the world, or see miracles happen.
I think I love it because so many emotions are worked out in the physical movements. I could drink, cut myself, lie comatose on my bed, have an affair. But instead I dance, and get high.
I think I love it because it has shown me a different side to myself, one of which I was only vaguely aware, and possibly frightened. It shakes off the vague sense of shame I have at enjoying being a woman, at wanting to be beautiful.
And I love it because it makes me feel strong, physically and mentally. Like everyone, I imagine, I could list off a myriad of disempowering things that have happened to me and made me want to hide. Dance has restored my courage and sense of self worth.
It gives me something to think about in difficult (and boring) moments. I sometimes look at my restless students who just can’t wait for the bell so they can go out and kick the footy. Little do they realise half the time I’m dancing in my head and just waiting to get home and move.
It has given me back to me. That young woman who looked at life with wonder and excitement, who wore a ridiculous amount of bangles, and just wanted to see people smile.
I will end with two internet quotes:
“Dance is a way to find yourself and lose yourself all at the same time.”
“Dance like no-one is watching. They’re not. They’re checking their phones.”
Both equally true! x