Sometimes I’ll look at one of my sister belly dancers when we are dancing and I see an image from my Language of the Goddess book. It’s a reproduction of a drawing on a piece of pottery of a woman with her arm circled over her head, her body holding a pose.
It’s easy to see the goddess in the women I dance with. Bellydancing is one of the oldest dance forms so it’s no wonder that the people who perform it today are reaching back through time.
Two weeks ago Julz, my teacher and friend, showed me how to use an eyebrow pencil. Something I’ve never done before. I’m learning how to use makeup for our upcoming performances.
Everyone is willing to help. When the eyebrow pencil I bought made me look like Martin Scorsese, Trish brought me a lighter shade that she had at home.
Trish told me that when she got promoted a co-worker let her know that if she wanted the men in the office to take her seriously she had to wear makeup. Ever since then, she thinks of her makeup as war paint.
I get that.
She, like the other women in my class, talk about how they wear makeup for themselves, not for other people. It does something for them. That’s the same reason I put on earrings in the morning and think about what I’m wearing, even though most days, Jon is the only person to see me.
I do it because it makes me feel good.
So along with practicing dancing, each week before class I practice putting on my performance makeup. And each week I get another helpful tip from the experts.
I never wore make-up. I wasn’t allowed to at the age most girls start wearing it. After that, I lost interest. Now I see it as another part of my costuming for Bellydanicng.
After getting over my initial anxiety about having stuff on my face I became curious about the artistry of it. It’s kind of like wearing a bra (which I rarely do). After a while, I get used to it and sometimes it gives me more confidence. Like I have protection between me and the rest of the world.
Which makes me think about what Kathleen, who has been dancing for over 25 years, told me last week about performing.
I’m still uncomfortable leading the dance and will often rush through the moves. I do the same thing when I tell a story. I rush through it thinking no one really wants to hear what I have to say.
Kathleen said that when I’m dancing I had to believe in myself the same way I believe in a piece of my art that I put out into the world. What I want to be saying with my body is, ” I don’t care if you look at me or not, but I am worth looking at.” I’m dancing because I want to and I’m good at it.
It’s that kind of attitude that I saw in the Bennington Beledi Bellydancers that made me want to learn to belly dance more than six years ago.
“Fake it until you make it,” Julz says.
I’ve always felt comfortable in the long skirts and jewelry, but it took me a while to adjust to showing my belly. Now when I dress up in my belly dancing clothes, I feel strong and beautiful. It is a shield in a way and I can imagine the makeup playing the same part.
It might be just what I need to put between me and the world, while I’m still faking it.
And I have a feeling that eventually if I keep at it, I will “make it“. Because sometimes when I see myself in the mirror during dance class, I think I look like that illustration of the dancing woman in my Goddess book too.