Belly dance can mean different things for different people. For some, it’s a way of enjoying themselves. For others, it’s a form of entertainment. Some do it to forge connections with other dancers, while others do it out of a passion for performance.
And then there are others who dance because they are made whole by it.
A woman featured in this story is one such person. She is inspiringly resilient in the face of a terminal illness and says that belly dance is what keeps her going in the face of a difficult time.
Her story speaks volumes to the healing power of dance. I don’t mean this in the literal physical sense, but more in a mental and spiritual kind sense of healing. (Though belly dance has a slew of both physical and mental health benefits as well.)
Belly dance as an activity requires physical ability, but as an art requires creativity.
This doesn’t mean that you have to have the same body type as an Olympic athlete. Quite the contrary, in fact; unlike some other types of dance, belly dance has no size requirement. Belly dancing is a way of celebrating the female body, in whatever size that may be. Rachel Brice, a tribal fusion dance innovator, said she was first inspired to belly dance when she was mesmerized by the dance of a woman who weighed around 300 pounds.
Belly dance is thus able to be enjoyed by everyone. Its origins lie in the celebration of women, and it’s a fantastic way for women to develop and maintain confidence about themselves and their bodies. Given the outrageously unrealistic beauty ideals that permeate western society, it’s easy to see why so many women see belly dancing and bare midriffs as something for only the most perfectly sculpted bodies. But the reality is that anyone can learn this dance and become excellent at it.
Finding inspiration for belly dance isn’t difficult. For Sigi, the terminally ill dancer, her inspiration comes from her love of life. For others, inspiration can come from music or art or other forms of dance. A type of inspiration I find useful comes from watching other dancers. From their costumes to their choice of choreography to their execution of the moves, there’s so much to learn from other dancers. This is true for any belly dance style, but it is especially so for fusion styles, because they are constantly evolving as dancers create new moves and spark new ideas.
The next time you dance or watch another dancer perform, appreciate your body for what it can do. And the next time you’re looking for inspiration, keep an open mind. It’s everywhere.