Something Changes Inside Me When I Dance

“Sisters of the Shawl” dancing at the Farmer Market in June.  That’s   Trish, Callie and Jeanne up front and Callie’s daughter, dancing with her mom.

For a whole year I avoided going to Bellydancing class early.

I would time it just right, so I’d get there just five minutes before class started.  If I was earlier than that, I’d sit in my car and do my email till it was 5:10.

As I walked up the stairs in the Senior Citizens Center where we had our class, I could hear the music and the Zills  of who ever was dancing before class started.  Kathleen and Julz were there at least fifteen minutes before the class.   Sometime some of the other women would be there too. They’d be dancing or talking, tying on their hip sashes, adjusting their skirts, stretching.

We were encouraged to come early.  It was a good time to ask questions or practice moves.

But even in the few minutes that I’d be there before the class I was uncomfortable and not sure what to do.  Too shy to dance,  I’d make awkward conversation or stand off to the side watching, conscious not to the let the fake smile, my default facial expression, spread over my face.

But then, about a month ago, something changed.  I’m not sure what happened,  if it was a single incident or it just took me a year to feel more comfortable, but I decided to get to class early.

I no longer felt as awkward or shy.  I found it easier to make conversation.  Then, Jackie told me  how when she first started dancing, she came fifteen minutes early to class even week and practiced dancing with Julz.

Julz, like the proud mama, stood there  smiling  and nodding her head in affirmation.

Last week I left home early, taking an alternate route to avoid the construction going on in Bennington so I could get to class by 5pm.  Julz was already dancing when I got there.  I stood watching her for a  moment, then she invited me to dance with her.  You don’t have to lead she said, just follow.  Some of the movements were ones I haven’t learned yet, but I did what I could.  When Linda came into class, she joined right in without hesitation.

Linda and I started lessons at the same time.  We often look at each other in class, shrug our shoulders and give each other a clenched toothed grin, when we don’t know what we’re doing.  But Linda always seemed more brave to me.  Ready to try something new, where I’d hold back. Willing to dance without having to be invited.  Even though, when it comes to dancing were at the same level, I look to her for her confidence where I lack it.

By the time class started at 5:15, five of us were dancing together.  When class did begin, I was already sweating and catching my breath.  But it was a liberating too.  Similar to  when I was taking life drawing classes and  I would scribble on my paper before beginning to draw, to loosen me up.

Something changes inside of me when I dance.  I don’t know what it is, but I always feel better about myself.   Starting a class with my mind and body, feeling confident has got to be better for my dancing.

Now I’m looking forward to that extra fifteen minutes before class starts.  And this Thursday, I won’t wait for Julz to invite me.

The Sisters of the Shawl will be dancing at the Bedlam Farm Open House again this year.  Last year Kathleen and Jackie were there.  This year Callie and Emily will  join them.  They’ll be dancing at 1pm on Sunday October 7th.  I hope you can come to see them dance.  For more information about the Bedlam Farm Open House, click here.



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