Why do we Belly Dance?

I spent the last few weeks with an abundance of Belly Dance festivities to be a part of and had a chance to speak to dancers from all over the country about what draws them to this art form. It is not always a tangible, explainable feeling but one that is deeper than that of just a love of dance. It didn’t seem to matter if it was traditional Belly Dance, Tribal Belly Dance or Bollywood for that matter the conversations and feelings were all similar.

As a beginner we are draw to Belly Dance for several reasons, maybe we saw a dancer somewhere and enjoyed watching them enough to want to seek out a class. Perhaps a friend dragged us along or we were looking for some kind of fitness that didn’t involve an exercise machine. The first classes are filled with a mix of excitement and nerves, perhaps some movements come easily but most don’t and require some effort, determination and patience. We compare ourselves to others in the class and wonder why everyone else seems to get it and we don’t, but gradually over the weeks and months movements start to feel a little less strange and that elusive shimmy is happening more often than not. The connection to our body is growing and muscles that we never knew existed start to awaken.

Alongside our growing body awareness and movement is something else that is happening. A new social group is opening up as the same group of women meet every week to learn and grow together. Achievements and difficulties are shared, encouragement and support is given, friendships are formed and before long your weekly class is about much more than spending an hour dancing. Creativity is given an opportunity to flourish in a million different ways from choreography to making costumes, head pieces, veils and even writing about dance experiences.

I always say to beginner dancers, please allow yourself time to learn and enjoy dance. You do not need to get all the moves right or look a certain way. Give your mind and body time to open up to the new movements and connections that will be made if you are patient and allow it to happen. If you can surrender your expectations a whole world will open up to you.

This world of dance is one of friendship, support, connection and nourishment of the soul. This, all on top of the health benefits it has on our bodies including fitness, balance, core strength, coordination and mental health. It really is about the journey and not the destination, there is always more to learn, always more to experience. The women I spoke to all agreed that dance has brought them a richer and deeper experience of not only their bodies but of community. Sharing time and space with other people that enjoy dance and the journey that it provides, moving to music and being able to express your spirit.

Why do we Belly Dance? Because we don’t want to live without it! 

By Regan Gardner
Belly Dance Arabesque
October 2014 

Tribe Arabesque Belly Dance Arabesque