I don’t know why watching these women dance makes me cry.
I can only imagine it touches something deep inside of me, something ancient. I feel like this dance taps into a part of me that was alive when ancient woman had the power to rule their own lives. When the Goddess was revered, before her story was co-opted by the patriarchical religions.
The video above is from the performance that Jon and I saw in Bennington a month ago. The one that inspired me to take Belly Dancing lessons. Julz and Kathleen, who are dancing with their Sahidi Sister Bethany, are the two women who teach the class.
I’ve learned a few things from the three classes I’ve taken. One of them is how easy the dancers make it look and how difficult it really is.
I’ve learned how to shake my hips so the skin and muscles and fat in my buttocks feel like their flapping around like jello. I’m working on how to do that and “march” at the same time. I’ve learned how to move my hips and hands at the same time, in time with each other, as long as I can do it slowly.
But the most important thing I’ve learned so far is how to stand with attitude. With my chest out, as if a string is connected to my breast bone pulling it straight up. With my shoulders down and my butt in.
Some of this posture is familiar to me from my yoga classes. But I’ve never put it all together in this way. I’ve never felt how that posture makes space in my body and makes me feel as if I am worthy to do as I please and be who I am.
Here I am it says, this is me, without excuses or apology, with confidence.
I find that when I stand this way, my back hurts less and it gives me a rush of energy. If I’m tired, it revives me.
For a long time, my ideas about Belly Dancing had to do with harems and slaves. Of women being in the control of men. I saw it as sexist and demeaning.
I didn’t know that it’s just the opposite.
That it’s empowering, joyful and luscious.
I have class again on Thursday and I can’t wait to go. I can’t wait to put on the Choli, Kitty gave me, and the long green skirt with my naked belly standing proud. I can’t wait to try and move my body like some of the other women in the class who know what they’re doing. And even if I can’t do it well, I can’t wait to dance.