How did you start?

Chatting with some teacher friends the other day I was struck by the different ways we all came to bellydance. Some people start bellydancing for fun, for fitness, to make friends, to connect with their heritage, to learn about a new culture, to gain confidence, to do something a bit unusual…this is my story.

I was drawn to bellydance because I’d heard the “a dance by women, for women” line, which resonated nicely with my proto-feminist self. I remember saving an article about bellydance from a Sunday newspaper and going back to read it time and time again. When I saw a poster for classes in a local alternative/hippy type shop I went along and never looked back. Here I am 15 years later 🙂

Of course I soon learned that “by women, for women” wasn’t really true. Seeing Khaled dance for the first time definitely knocked any traces of that out of my head 🙂 and he has been on of my very favourite dancers and teachers ever since. I think a lot of people probably have ideas about bellydance when they start which aren’t true – sometimes wishtory, fantasy or outright misinformation – but what you learn in class to replace those ideas is hopefully far more interesting than the fantasy and is what will keep you bellydancing for a long time!

So if my initial idea about what bellydancing was turned out to be wrong, what kept me doing it? Simply, I fell in love with the music and this way of moving. I’ve always loved music, but I didn’t spend my childhood dancing. I did the obligatory little girl ballet classes, then found that swimming suited me more so that was that. I’d watch my friends at school discos, unable to do what they did. It felt wrong on me, so I perfected the nervous teenage shuffle instead. Then I found bellydance and it just felt RIGHT. I don’t have a body suited for ballet, or jazz, or contemporary dance but with bellydance it didn’t matter if I wasn’t thin as a whippet, or couldn’t do the splits. I could move my hips and that was all that was needed.

Of course there are other things that have kept me dancing and part of the dance community, principally the wonderful people I’ve met along the way, but it was that initial “Hey, I CAN do this!” that got me hooked.

4 thoughts on “How did you start?

  1. I started belly dance classes in 2000 after an operation to repair cartilage on my knee. I had already had a career as a cabaret dancer and fitness instructor, but was no longer able to teach high impact classes and was looking for a new passion, and I certainly found that! After two years I began teaching and performing, and for the past ten years I have been privileged to have danced at numerous events and on tv shows and have met some fab people along the way, along with the weirdos and freaks that unfortunately seem to go with the territory! I married an egyptian and have totally changed the path of my life and would love to keep on dancing for the rest of my life…

  2. I suppose I’ve always enjoyed dancing around my bedroom to music I love when nobody can see me, but I never had any formal dance training as a child, and was pretty terrible at school PE. I started bellydance classes in 2008 whilst at university, and I’m honestly not sure quite what made me seek them out. It felt less threatening to me as a self-conscious non-dancer than other types of dance class, and I was drawn to the stereotype of being exotic, sexy and a bit dangerous, as well as being quite interested in ‘Eastern’ things at the time in a bit of an orientalist way.

    What kept me going was first of all just the joy of movement, and feeling more graceful than I ever had done before. And later, the beautiful music. And Tarab. The wonderful feeling of being completely in the moment, and at one with the music. When that happens, it’s the best thing ever.

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  4. My mum took me to classes with her when I was 12? 13? and I stayed there till now really. I saw Rachel Brice on Youtube about 5 years ago and was entranced, and devoured as much Tribal Fusion as I could afford. I always wonder if I had taken a class in something else if I would have pursued that instead, or whether Bellydance would have won out eventually. I just love dancing. Stick anything on, I will dance to it until the music stops.

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