The following is a post by Alexandra, visual artistperformer and instructor at Belly Motions. 

Spirituality and Dance

Spirituality and personal growth have become stronger life-driving concepts since I began belly dancing in 2005. Recently I read Michelle’s latest blog “The Healing Power of Belly Dance,” and her quote “Dancing freely is a rite of passage for each and every one of us…it’s almost like a form of meditation” reminded me of a group of Middle Eastern Dancers I once learned about. I was so inspired by Michelle’s blog and her own journey with dance that I felt compelled to write about this topic.

Portrait of Rumi


Whirling Dervishes

Jalal al-Din Rumi is considered one of the greatest mystical poets of Middle Eastern history. He was the founder of the whirling dervishes in the 13th Century in Turkey and a practitioner of Sufism, or Melevism– a belief system within the religion of Islam. Semazens, also known as whirling dervishes in the western world, or Tanoura in Egypt, perform Sema, the spinning ceremonial dance that leads us entranced and wondering how they don’t get dizzy! According to the documentary I named her Angel by Nefin Dinç, 2007, taking place in Turkey, Sema is considered their most important form of prayer which includes music and song. With their head tilted sideways, their right palm faces upward symbolizing a connection to Allah, and their left palm faces downward symbolizing a connection to earth. Men and women practice this physical from of meditation with the guide of their spiritual leaders. In short, Sufism is a highly spiritual tradition of Islam that uniquely includes dance and music. 

As a dancer I am genuinely spiritual and see a connection between Belly Dance and Sufi poetry and mysticism. When I perform I make sure I’m connected with the music and the audience so that the experience is true and real. As an instructor I witness within my students the dance’s ability to unify and communicate thoughts and feelings that we may not be able to verbally. It is powerful and unique in this way. On a more personal level, Belly Dance has entered deeply into my everyday life and helps me cope with stresses in and out of home.

These concepts and experiences also transfer into my artwork. As a visual artist I believe this dance has a deeper voice to express than just performance. Visit my website, for more on my art.

Belly Dance has an endless variety of historical influences, some even come as a surprise! To our students, if you’re interested about digging deeper into Belly Dance, don’t miss out on our Intermediate 2 Programs, History, Culture and Choreography!