I’ve always liked movement and dance – from trying ballet when very small and sticking with figure skating during my school years, through to yoga in college and beyond. I had never experienced anything like belly dance before when my friend dragged me along to a class in college for the first time (About Me). The music and dance moves were completely foreign and fascinating. I stuck with it for the year, and didn’t think anything more when I moved on from college.
Fast forward several years, and a move to a new city for postgraduate study. Something (I don’t remember what) possessed me to search for a belly dance class in the area, and lo and behold, there was a weekly class that I promptly joined. After several months of weekly classes, I toddled along to a belly dance workshop in Dublin with a crew from my teacher’s group. I had no idea what to expect and no idea who Lorna of Cairo was. Turns out Lorna was a Scottish dancer who was dancing professionally in Cairo and she had lots to share. Three workshops and six hours later, and I was Blown. Away. I didn’t know that belly dance could be more than ‘this thing that I showed up to and did for an hour a week’. And that there was a whole world of dance and dancers out there to learn about and learn from.
Fast forward again, and countless dance weekends in England, such as the Jewel of Yorkshire and the JWAAD summer school, as well as classes and performances with various local teachers as classes came and went from Belfast. Discovering that I love the depth and difficulty of the dance. Developing an awareness of my body and its muscles and bones to somehow turn these weird torso, hip, and chest isolations into ‘belly dance’. Learning more about the myriad of props, music, and dance styles. And deciding that this wasn’t ‘serious enough’ and that I needed to be ‘more serious’ about my dance.
Fast forward to a series of JWAAD technique assessments – the hardest thing I’ve ever done – and managing to move up two levels in the space of four years. Hardest thing because JWAAD is a set style emphasising the use of core muscles (glutes, abs, obliques, and back) to achieve precise isolation allowing complex layering of belly dance moves. My body doesn’t naturally follow this style – I’m more of a ‘wing it and express the music’ type style. Meanwhile, I completed the JWAAD safety class and took my first forays into teaching dance and organising bi-annual wee haflas for my students and fellow dancers.
Fast forward to today. What’s my current dance ‘jam’? I’ve decided that the most important thing for me (right now) is developing my performance-focused personal practice. The thing I love most about dance is the joy in music coming into my ears, through my body, and out again as belly dance. I love enjoying it for myself, and sharing it with others. If that means my technique builds more slowly, or that I don’t earn any money from dance, that’s ok, because the most important thing to me is ‘just dancing’! Over the years, I’ve built up a lot of knowledge and thoughts on belly dance that I intend on sharing in this blog. I hope to show that you don’t need to be a perfect, professional dancer, to have ‘something to say that’s worth listening to’.
Here’s a couple of photos to celebrate my journey so far… one from the very early days of my belly dance journey and one from today…