I had taken the lead. I stood in front of Emily and Trish, doing a taxeem trying, too hard, to think about what move I’d do next. I awkwardly transitioned my arms above my head to go into a corkscrew turn when the music suddenly stopped.
It was sudden to me anyway, I didn’t know the song so instead of ending the dance gracefully, I dropped my arms and cringed embarrassed by my mistake.
That’s when Kathleen, one of my teachers said, “Keep dancing even when the music stops”.
Kathleen said if the music stops and I’m in the middle of a move, I should just keep doing it as if it’s what I meant to happen. And then she demonstrated and what I felt as I watched her dance that one move said so much more than any words she could have used.
Because she wasn’t just demonstrating a dance move, she was demonstrating an attitude. An attitude of confidence that demanded attention from anyone watching her.
“Look at me,” Emily said from across the room. “That’s what you’re saying when you’re up there dancing.” She too saw how I crumpled in on myself embarrassed when the music stopped. “I just told my daughter this morning that she should be making mistakes, that mistakes are how we learn.”
It was the attitude that I saw in the dancers the first time I saw Bellydancing that made me want to learn how to do it. And I knew Kathleen’s and Emily’s words were about life as much as dancing.
After getting my MFA in sculpture, I decided not to make art anymore. I believed I couldn’t do what it took to be an artist. The music had stopped and I went into hiding.
But years later, when I accepted the barn that Jon offered me as a studio, made my quilts, got a blog and started my business, I was dancing after the music stopped. When Jon decided he didn’t need to publish a book to be a writer, he was dancing after the music stopped.
I now believe in my art and my ability to be an artist and make a living at it. Not in the traditional way, but in my way. And I have more confidence in myself now than at any other time in my life.
But there are still times and places where I’m afraid to make a mistake and don’t really believe I’m worthy of “being seen”.
That’s part of the beauty of my Bellydancing class. It’s one hundred percent about dancing, but like most art, it often blurs the boundaries between art and life.
I am learning to Bellydance every week, and so much more.