Unlike many of my family members who just think I’m crazy and wish I was less “wild”, my best friend has been so gracious and indulged me on many of my new things- belly dancing is no exception. We arrived at the same time and walked to class together. We were greeted by a somewhat peculiar, stocky, middle aged woman with an olive complexion. She had on anklets, bracelets, necklaces, a belly scarf, BIG earrings and headbands all made of little coins that jingled when she moved. Just the sight of her made us smile! I was so excited because I had brought my coined scarves, which I had purchased a few years ago when I dressed as a gypsy for Halloween; finally they were serving a purpose!
Though I was nervous, I could not stop grinning from ear to ear, I was so excited to lay down some of my own inhibitions, let go and just have fun! It turns out that lady who greeted us was our teacher, her name is Azza. She was originally from Egypt and has been an instructor for over 10 years...but we were still skeptic. She went on to explain that she started dancing as a little girl, just by simply watching other dancers. It was a big part of her culture, and she loved it!
I found that interesting, because in my conservative, Hispanic culture, something like belly dancing was once a disgrace, and those who did it were even more disgraceful. :) That’s how I’ve lived much of my life; I was finally ready to let go of that belief and embrace the artistic side of the dance. I was curious to see who my classmates would be.
A few minutes later more ladies began to show up…women of all shapes and sizes and ages…oh how I just loved the diversity of the women there! I had an OMG (Oh My Gosh) moment when low and behold…my girl’s former Sunday school teacher showed up!! She’s a lady in her late-60’s who has had a hip replacement! She is amazing! I was SUPER excited at this point and wanted the yoga class that was invading our dance floor to hurry up and finish their zen already!!!
Finally, they were done…we walked into the classroom and put our jingle scarves…I was still so giddy- I felt like a little girl attending her first ballet recital (Come to think of it I should have stopped to buy myself some flowers afterwards! <giggle>). Azza started with a brief introduction then started the music and began moving her arms, expecting that we would follow. It was fun watching her…her arms had a fierce yet flow-ey movement. When I looked at myself in the mirror…I had to laugh, I looked stiff and stuck compared to Azza, but I didn’t care – I was having a blast!
Next, it was time to move the hips…the fun part! Azza can REALLY move her hips; somehow she had an extra something that made her coins jingle a bit louder than the rest of us! My friend commented that her “jinglers” were probably broken, because she couldn’t hear them! I commented on how having a little body jiggle wasn’t such a bad thing in belly dancing! We shimmied and shook and even danced with veils, it really felt like an entirely different world was opening up!
As the lesson went on, no one minded Azza’s occasional correction, as we really wanted to learn how to do this right. Neither did we mind that we were sweating…it really is a good workout! Towards the end, it looked like we all were more flow-ey and comfortable with the dance. I also realized that not once had I heard my inner judge criticize me! It was freeing. I looked around and all of the women there were really enjoying this art, and being in their bodies…just the way they are! “THIS is what it is all about!!!” I thought to myself. Why wait till we reach our goal weight, or until this or that happens to enjoy exactly who we are?
I cannot say that I’ve completely left my inner critic behind, but I know that I can learn to love and accept myself as I am, as we all should! As I experiment and release old stifling beliefs, I am finding more of myself just through trying new things, that were once totally out of the question.