Julz and Kathleen turned one way and I turned the other. When I realized I was turning in the wrong direction, I laughed at myself, but I danced as if I hadn’t made a mistake and seamlessly followed Kathleen, who was leading, into the next move.
Something broke open inside of my between last Bellydancing class when I had a panic attack and this weeks class. I think it has to do with the original reason I wanted to learn to Bellydance.
It wasn’t so I could be scared and feel bad about myself, it was just the opposite.
The first time I watched Sisters of the Shawl dance, I saw women who were secure with themselves and their bodies. Women who were dancing for the love of it, they took it seriously, but at the same time, didn’t care what other people thought about them.
They danced the way I make my art.
Except dancing is even more direct. Because their bodies become their art, their form of communicating to the world. And their bellies, which are both powerful and vulnerable, are the focus of the dance.
I watched them dance and thought they could only be dancing that way if they felt really good about themselves. If they loved themselves.
I’ve never believed that a person could just change their mind about a long-held belief. That there must be a process to get from one point to another. And I imagine I’ve been going though that process and that’s why when I walked into class last night, and decided I was going to dance with feeling, without worrying about my mistakes, I was able to do it.
Of course, the people who surrounded me helped. I truly felt the meaning of the Tribal Sisterhood that I wrote about a while back. Everyone in class was supportive, in their own way, without fussing.
At the end of the class I danced with Julz and Kathleen while the rest of the class watched. Technique came second to feeling the music in my body. I incorporated my mistakes the best I could, like a professional entertainer might. I completely enjoyed it.
Then Julz and stood at the other end of the room together while everyone else dance. “Now, she said, you get to be the audience”.
As we watched, Julz remarked on each dancer. How Callie does this beautiful thing with her eyes when she’s dancing. How Emily becoming a Sister of The Shawl last year breathed new life into them. How much she loves to dance with Jackie. And how great Kat was doing after not dancing for over a year.
These were not empty compliments. This was Julz telling me how much she appreciates each of her Tribal Sisters for who they are.
Unlike last week, I left class feeling good about myself, and that I too was appreciated for who I am.
As I walked out the door Julz said, “Just remember, dancing with Kathleen and me is like dancing with a ham sandwich.” I’ll remember those words, and they’ll continue to make me laugh and put me at ease.