Two years ago, if you told me that I'd be A) showing my midriff in public, B) dancing for them C) without jitters and D) loving every minute of it, I'd quietly call the police to have you held in a mental facility on a 5150.
That just wasn't me. I was the chick whose ass was firmly planted in her chair at weddings during Dancing Time. I was the girl who'd go to the club and "hold the table". I was the woman that called herself "too Jewish to dance". I was the girl that rolled her eyes at that "I Hope You Dance" song. Okay, that last bit, I still do. Tooooo schmaltzy.
What changed in me, two years ago?
I have met several amazing women that belly dance for fun, for fitness, for performing, for work... Gorgeous women with bright spirits and calm confidence in their bodies. So, one day I decided, what the hell, give it a shot, if I hate it, we need never speak of this again.
So I signed up for what I call "those three awkward Egyptian cabaret lessons".
This is not an ATS dancer hating on Egyptian, by any means. I think Egyptian cabaret is a gorgeous style, suitable for so many bodies and moods and dance stories. I'm not even hating on the studio or the teacher... the studio is doing a lot of work to elevate belly dance as an art form, and the teacher clearly loved her dance and her work. It just didn't mesh well with me, and that was what made things awkward.
It was a lot of stuff thrown into a small period of time, a choreography, veil work, the basic moves, and a warmup and cooldown. Throw in a featureless dance room (big long room with dance floors and mirrors) and both instructors using mics, and my crappy hearing just couldn't catch everything. There was a lot of sound bouncing around the room, which made it hard for me to understand, and mics make it hard to lipread. So there's poor me, with no idea what is going on in class, and I just didn't end up enjoying myself.
But I still wanted to learn.
So, I searched out other classes when that session was over, and found Eastern Fire. I liked Grace and her teaching style, which was much slower and broke things down a lot more, and the mechanics of the studio made it easy to understand her. So, I figured I'd keep going.
About nine months after that, I had my dance debut. About nine months after THAT, I was asked to join Cassia, and then we were selected to perform at Tribal Revolution.
There were so many points along the way that I couldn't believe I passed... I thought I'd never be able to master the taxim, or the dreaded 3/4 shimmy, or the body wave. I thought I'd never be able to zill and would have to fake it. I thought I'd never perform, and I'd certainly never bare my midriff in public. I thought I'd never be a member of the student troupe, and I didn't even imagine being a part of the larger dance community. I was just too uncoordinated, fat, pasty, ugly, and weird to want to share this.
What the hell was I thinking? I'm beautiful.