I danced today. For the first time in over a year I put music on and danced. No audience, no teacher, no students. Just me.
I stopped dancing in October 2014 although I’d made the decision to do so months before that. There were many reasons behind that decision which mostly boiled down to: I felt there was no place for me. I don’t fit in with the dancers who want to ignore or erase the cultural background(s) of this dance. Oriental style is turning into dancesport, complete with the thin, tanned, young bodies of its practitioners. As I get older and fatter more and more doors are closed to me. It was pretty disheartening when I had to accept that I just didn’t have the right look to be a successful commercial dancer; it’s really quite disappointing to find the same standards being applied within the community.
I don’t have the energy to fight for a place. I’ve seen what it takes and I’ll leave that to those who are hungry for the spotlight. It would have been nice if there was still somewhere I could just dance – not drill, not teach, not perform, not compete – but social dancing seems to have disappeared. I went to ten events in my last two years, ranging from local haflas to international festivals, and only four of them had any time for social dancing. Isn’t that at the root of what we do? What happened? No criticism of event organisers by the way, I know how hard a job that is and that they have to respond to the wishes of their customers. So the question is: why don’t people want to dance for fun?
Now my life has been turned upside down again after moving country and finding out I’m pregnant within the same month. Even longed-for change can be challenging. I find that I need that connection between body, heart and soul that is unique to bellydance. If the only place I can find it is on my own in my front room, so be it.
I let other people take dance away from me. Now I’m taking it back.