I spend a lot of time teaching facing away from the mirror and, honestly, a lot of my classes are taught with the curtains pulled over the mirrors so even the students don’t see themselves dancing. This is very intentional – I want them to FEEL the moves in their bodies before/instead of getting distracted by how the moves LOOK. This makes them stronger dancers, more in touch with the sources of the moves they’re creating with their muscles and bones. This makes me a stronger teacher since my focus stays 100% on them and directs their focus as well.
The result, though, is that – unless I seek out the mirror – I don’t spend a lot of time seeing the results of what I’m doing with my body. This week I changed that, and crossed a body image line in the process.
I have been practicing daily for almost a year now. Every. Single. Day. Over the course of the year I have adjusted my daily practice routine several times to dig into different areas of growth, and I’ve practiced in a lot of different environments. For the past week I’ve made two things constant practice elements: knee shimmies and a mirror.
Knee shimmies are significant for me. When I first started dancing I was at the heaviest I’ve ever been in my life. Shimmying gave me permission to love my body – the GOAL was to move the flesh and the resulting noise from my coin belt or swish of my skirt was celebrated and encouraged. What an awesome treat for someone who had hated her body for so long! As I continued along my dance journey and worked hard to shed pounds so my hips, knees, and ankles could continue to support my efforts, my shimmy got smaller and smaller and, eventually, became one of my most challenging moves to execute. With the extra flesh I hadn’t really had to nail down technique to get the satisfying shimmy to go. Without that extra flesh…well, I had to go back to the drawing board to figure out how to make my new form do what my old form came by so easily.
My physical shape has changed again, as has my relationship with my body. My shimmy has been a gauge for me. My current goal is to turn up the intensity dial on my knee shimmy and to get all the flesh I have to dance along with me. Daily practice in the mirror has given me the tools I need to kick up my shimmy a notch or two. And here’s the important part –
I LOVE seeing my flesh move.
I love it! My new tattoo dances, my stretch marks dance, my tummy flesh dances – everything moves in the most awesome way.
That body love is new.
I’ve been saying “Bellydance Changes Lives” for years and I love that I still get to have these moments of discovery and learning from this art form.