Friday, September 12, 2008

Belly Dancing!

This past summer, I had an urge to broaden my fitness horizons and take some new classes at my gym. The first one on my list was belly dancing, just because I thought it would be unusual and “outside the box.” Granted, my idea of a belly dancer was a jiggly woman wearing a shiny costume with heavy eye make-up and though I didn’t really see myself as that type, I felt compelled to try it out. After all, I did like to “shimmy like my sister Kate.”

Coco, our teacher and choreographer, is not what I envisioned, and I say this with thanks. Bright and cheery, with a sing-song voice, she’s a raven-haired girl-next-door, with abs of steel. Then, when she starts dancing, something else overtakes her. Articulating each body part with such grace and finesse, she becomes a force of nature. I was in awe and a little perplexed. How could she move one part of her torso while the others remained completely still? Such was the mystery that needed to be unraveled in time.

So far, it’s been two months. Though initially, I found some of the movements just a little embarrassing and a challenge to my usual sense of self, everything normalizes in time. Yes, even pelvic thrusts. My body sometimes wonders what hit it with all the shaking and undulating, but it's natural that earthquakes would wreak a little havoc. Tectonic plate shifts release the old and make way for the new, in our earth's crust and ourselves. Change can be tumultuous.

The sisterhood is filled with beautiful energy that is all-inclusive and warm. Each dancer brings her own special ingredient to the mix, adding to a potent recipe of girl power. We laugh a lot, hoot and holler, which is always freeing. I almost feel like we are dancing wildly in nature somewhere, in some primordial space.

Originally intended as a dance by women for women to enhance fertility, I see this “raqs sharqi” as a celebration of the goddess within. When we shake our hips, we reclaim our power. Happily, I do feel rejuvenated. My left hip problem has disappeared, I lost more than a few pounds and I feel inspired to express myself in ways that I hadn’t before. Last week, I had a dream that I bought a pair of bright red Charles Jourdan patent leather high-heeled pumps with a wedge heel of tortoise shell (not my usual taste). Has my inner diva awakened? Only time will tell.

p.s. A special note of thanks to Mimi, a patient and persevering ally who has helped me through the rough patches and continues to be a role model for me and many others.

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