“We believe ATS is an evocative dance form that can be practiced and enjoyed by everybody—no matter their size, age, or ability.” Bennington Beledi Tribal Bellydancing Vision Statement
“They were all older women, some dressed as vegetables,” Emily told us during one of our classes. It was not what she expected when she went to see the Farm to Ballet Project. But as they danced, she picked up on their energy, on how much fun they were having dancing together. “That’s what we need to do,” she told us, “we need to have fun and the audience will feel it and enjoy it too.”
Last night in our Bellydancing class six new students showed up. That’s three times as many new students as we’ve had since I started dancing five years ago.
I’m sure my mouth was hanging open as the first two people showed up then four more wandered in. At first, we were all a bit stunned, but then we made sure to welcome the new students as they came into the class. To try to make them feel comfortable being there from the very beginning.
The people who showed up were all around my age and of a variety of body types.
One of the wonderful things about having new students in the class is that it helps me to learn in ways I wouldn’t without them.
Seeing new students dance I can see how much I really do know.
Last night as we stood in a circle getting ready to practice zilling, Julz was letting the new students know that it takes time to learn to zill. “I couldn’t even step to a beat when I first started dancing” I told the group, “and they didn’t kick me out.”
After that, a little miracle happened. I learned that I had been doing floreros wrong.
Floreros are the simple but important hand movements that we use often. All this time I’ve been using my fingers instead of my wrists to make the movement. As Kathleen explained floreros to Amy, who has been dancing with us for about six months, she told me I could benefit from the lesson too.
All along I had been joyfully dancing with my fingers through the air, but what I really needed to be doing was keep my fingers relaxed and let them naturally follow the movement of my wrist.
Basically, I was doing more than I had to and making it harder on myself.
This idea came back again as class went on. With all the moves I’m trying too hard, doing too much. It probably comes from my fear of doing something wrong. But once I understood that I needed to loosen up and trust my body, I could relate it.
I’ve experienced it before with my writing.
It’s the same advice Jon gave me years ago when I was having a hard time writing. He told me to trust my writing the same way I trust that when I start making a quilt it will work out.
I need to relax into dancing, the same way I let go and allow my art to happen.
Our teachers, Julz and Kathleen always say we can listen to and watch a dance lesson a hundred times but we won’t “get” it until we’re ready.
I feel like last night I learned something I haven’t been able to hear before. And I think having the new students in the class helped because I was able to experience what Kathleen was telling Amy and me as if I were learning it for the first time.
That shift that I feel happening around our Bellydancing Class has affected me personally too.
I feel different about dancing, and its place in my life. Like I’m shedding my fears of inadequacy so I can let go and enjoy dancing as I haven’t been able to before.