July 18, 2010

Crossing Boundaries and Baring it All

Here's the first of what I hope to be many guest blogs on this site. The honor of the first one goes to a newer student of mine, Krysta, who is passionate and joyful and just lots of fun to be around. Enjoy!

I've been dancing on and off since I was about 4 years old – I've dabble in ballet, contemporary, folklorico, ballroom, latin, hustle, hip hop, west African, afro-haitian, capoeira, contact improvisation, tap, jazz, swing…and I love it all. It was only last year that I built the courage to try belly dancing. Like most women, there was just something terrifying and uncomfortable about letting my soft belly be seen by anyone but me…and my doctor one a year. For years I'd admired the belly dancers I had seen who were not only comfortable, but proud of the fleshiness of their midsection. I also couldn't help but be in sheer awe of the Indian women who let their bellies be…let their bellies rest happily and peek through the crevices of the brightly colored fabric that made their saris. "Yes, this is me – here I am."

I decided it was time to cross over from "traditional" forms of dance, into belly dance – and also cross over the boundary my fears had generated, and dance with my tum tum out. In the past year, I've gained another level of kinesthetic awareness which has profoundly informed the other styles of dance that I love, and I think I'm close to being on par with the Indian women I've admired for so long...this is me. Here I am.

Belly dancing has provided me with something I wasn't fully anticipating – confidence as a performer overall…and as a woman just trying to make it in the world. There is no apologizing in belly dance – you mean for your flesh to jiggle, or not jiggle. Your veil was supposed to get tangled. You were supposed to add that extra clack with your zils. And yes, you did nail that leap into a three-step turn. In performance, you must believe that every single hip sway and snake arm has been executed to perfection. You must know that you are the most interesting creature onstage whenever you enter…up until several lifetimes after you've exited. And in life, you must believe that every sashay in your heels, hair flip, and the building of every new Ikea furniture piece has been executed to perfection. You must know that you are the most interesting creature in the conference room and on the street – with or without your hip scarf.


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