creat with

Images Inside and Out

by Zara Mirmalek

February 1999

Who hasn't had that moment, when you have explained yourself busy because you have to go to class--dance class that it is--when you're asked, "What kind of dance?" "Oh, um, uh, ......."  you stall as you search for words, assessing the person, and wondering if an honest answer might encourage sarcasm, shock, disbelief, or skepticism.  Whatever the response, your hesitation may be eroding the very powers that you are building in class.  I am not suggesting that you must answer with a loud cry, "BELLY dance,"  I wish only to bring consciousness to this point for awareness.  The wonderful nature of belly dance  is it that builds the body image, self image, and self esteem.

Contrary to the surface association that most Westerners (and most men) give to this dance-- subordination, sex, slavery, and harem life-- it is more truly known as freedom of imagination coupled with a full expression of the body. A beginning dancer spends weeks (maybe years) inhibit
ed, stiff, and dancing inwardly; the learned dancer moves each muscle in a rhythmic symphony of motion that draws the external music inward, couples it with her inner music and expresses it outward once more, to the pleasure of those who may be witness. As difficult as it is to move through the stages, recognizing the ever-present clouds of poor self image and dispelling them, the reward is found in a straighter back, a deft chin, and a dance that assuages mind, body, and soul.

So the next time a curious expression passes over the face of a person who has just asked, "oh, what kind of dance class,"  pity their narrow understandings of beauty and of women.  And, though it may be a little over the top to spin around with outstretched arms and shimmy away, more power to you.

The Gilded Serpent

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