Why I dance.
I was not always a dancer. Every dance trend I would mock. I avoided almost every school dance and by the time I got to my senior prom I spent most of my time making fun of the whole thing on the sidelines.
Luckily, I had an optimistic friend and godmother. She called me up sheepishly and said, “Hey, would you be interested in taking a belly dance class with me?” After ridiculing her a little bit, I decided to go. I remember thinking, “What am I doing here. I am not a belly dancer! I cannot imagine myself in a bra, shimmying around and moving gracefully.” But being the sarcastic person I am, I thought it would make a great joke and story. So next week, we went together. I remember exactly what I wore that day. Black ugly sweats with Adidas stripes on the side, a stained over-sized T-shirt, and my dirty white mis-matched socks. I might as well have worn a sign that said, “Here for comic relief only.”
Though I don’t remember anything from that first class in terms of content, it didn’t matter. What I found was exactly what I didn’t even know I needed. I found a place where being myself was ok and my body didn’t dictate the treatment I received. I didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin right away I knew that the others around me felt the same way. My instructor created this environment and I was thriving in it. I am forever thankful to Saqra for that.
Fast forward a few years and I’m performing regularly at small shows and haflas as a hobbyist. I found confidence in the dance language that I had been given and couldn’t shut up about it. So why did I stay?
Dance came into my life right as I was making a huge life change. I was lonely and unfulfilled after ending a 5 year relationship. Due to a move I had lost contact with many friends. Dance provided a built in community and friendships. I kept an open mind and made an effort to meet as many people as possible. Through dance I’ve created lifelong friendships that I cherish greatly. I continue to meet new people all over the world thanks to the same common language we speak, belly dance.
Choo choo shimmies will forever kill my calves. Drilling, performing, learning, and teaching keep my fit on a daily basis. If it weren’t for dance, I’d be stuck in a boring gym day after day. Keeping a regular practice schedule has given me a fun outlet. I am grateful for my dancer physique.
Learning Again as an Adult
Nothing feels better than taking notes from an amazing workshop or regular class. By continuing my dance education I’m learning about culture, history, and technique. I also get to travel and explore other places that I would of not gotten the opportunity to explore before.
As I spoke to in the first few paragraphs, dance truly changed me as a person. I gained confidence in myself and body. I felt included for the first time in a community of people who all felt similarly to myself. This is why I teach, and why I dance. I hope to give to others what was given to me many years ago.
Why do you dance? Sound off in the comments below!
Kat teaches, dances, and produces shows in Tacoma, Washington. You can find out more about her belly dance classes, belly dance performances, and belly dance shows at www.tacomabellydance.com