Belly Dance has touched my life, and the lives of so many women I know. For me, every broken heart or bad day has been erased by dance…
A few years back, I almost lost my mother to heart disease. I received the news at a challenging time – right in the middle of rehearsals for the annual Belly Motions Anniversary show. I was completely distraught. I recall not being able to think straight or dance well. My movements weren’t sharp and I couldn’t remember specific choreographies. Having made a commitment to myself, my instructor and my team I did not pull out of the show and continued to attend classes and rehearsals.
At first I was afraid to enjoy dancing—it felt wrong. My mother’s health was failing, how could I dance? However, while I was in motion, I noticed my fear and worry disappeared. I had found the courage to smile again; my body felt free and my joy had returned. It was this experience that proved to me that dance has the power to heal.
I recently read Grandmother’s Secrets by Rosina-Fawzia Al-Rawi a book that shares the “Ancient Rituals and Healing Power of Belly Dancing” through the author’s personal experiences as an Arab woman growing up in the Middle East. I connected so deeply with her stories that I was inspired to share two of them here.
As a child, Fawzia, the author, recalls her grandmother asking her to draw a dot on the sidewalk with chalk, afterward explaining how that dot represented the “navel of world”. The dot served as a metaphor describing a women’s navel and how it served as an anchor of power – both in dance and in life. It was here that I realized how much power a woman carries in her navel—in her pelvis; it is not only the root of birth…but the root of Belly Dance. Suddenly a new found awakening was born; I found my pelvis!
Now an adolescent, Fawzia begins her menstrual cycle and is no longer considered a child by her family. This special time becomes a “right of passage” allowing Fawzia to finally dance amongst the adult women in her home. She speaks of this day and depicts a beautiful scene in which she proudly puts on a hip scarf and begins to dance freely. She describes this timeless feeling with no worries of technique or criticism; she simply gets lost in the music.
While reading Fawzia’s experience I could identify with the power of that “lost” feeling. I recognized that when dancing purely for myself, putting all other thoughts aside, I’m truly happiest. I never stop to think about how perfect my arms are or how powerful my shimmy is; I just DANCE. Dancing freely is a right of passage for each and every one of us…it’s almost like a form of meditation.
Grandmother’s Secrets reminds me of the strength I found through dance when I needed it most. I believe that both the “power of the pelvis” and the “dancing freely” create the perfect environment for personal growth and healing.
I strongly recommend purchasing this book. It will open your eyes (and hips!) in new and empowering ways!