Monday, November 7, 2011

My First Class (and lessons in life)........

As I have mentioned in the past, I have been a lover of dance forever.  To me dance is an amazing, exhilarating, and incredibly fulfilling part of my life, that I truly could not live without.  I know there are many, many other women (and men) in the world whom feel the same way. That is why there are T.V. shows and Movies that are centered all around dance, FAME, So You Think You Can Dance, Dancing with The Stars, Stomp the House, Saturday Night Fever, The Black Swan....the list is almost endless!

Dance transcends the ordinary, it brings us closer to our Creator, and elevates us to a higher state of being. There is a certain ecstasy found in the release of thought and purpose, when your only purpose is to move.

I was enraptured the very first time a watched a woman belly dance, as she gracefully swayed and undulated to a style of music I had never heard before. She was a performer at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Fl, and she was dancing with a huge Boa Constrictor in her arms and wrapped around her neck. I loved the movements, the music, the costume and I knew then and there that someday I WOULD find out where I could learn to dance like that. Now, as a educated dancer, with a lot of years of study and tutelage, I realize that what that dancer was doing was really a form of Fantasy Belly Dance. (That is for another Blog I was just a kid, I think maybe 10 years old?! But I will never forget the way I felt and the determination to become like her.

Time passed, many more belly dancers were admired and envied, at restaurants, Disney World, Busch Gardens, even a few private parties I had attended. Life always seemed to get in the way, lack of money, lack of time. I grew up, got married, had kids....time fly's by and days become weeks, weeks become months and months become years. 

I am sure you are probably now thinking..."Get on with the story already!"  Well, I just thought it would help for you to know, how I did the same thing that so many people do.  I had seen something that intrigued me and I so dearly wanted to do, but I let it slip away in time like grains of sand.  I look back at all those years I put off finding a teacher, and pursuing what NOW is such a huge part of my life and I mourn the loss of that time. I have written goes my story of my first class....

One day I received a phone call from my mother in law. She and her neighbor (in her 55 plus community) had decided to take an exercise class at the local Adult Technical Education Center, and wanted to invite me and my 10 year old daughter to join them. Now, being a good daughter in law (and wishing to keep the lines of communication open, and build (hopefully) a good relationship with my hubbies mom) I agreed to go. In my mind I was picturing a bunch of geriatrics doing some weird form of Chair dancing/Jazzercise, I have seen some of the exercise classes offered at local colleges. Anyway, my MIL had no idea what type of class it was, but thought it would be great bonding time for us.

So off we went, that next Saturday, morning to take the first class. We walk in the door, and sure enough 60% of the women were between 50 and 70 years old, many very overweight (including the teacher, who was definitely pushing hard on 70 and squeezed like a sausage into her black jazz pants and T-Shirt). I was not feeling real good about this, but figured it was not that much money, if we hated it, we could just not come back. (I know this all does not sound very PC of me, please bare with me....I promise it gets better).

Well, guess what happened? The teacher starts talking and welcomes us to her class and starts to explain the origins of Belly Dance, or what should really be called Raqs Sharqi.

Wow, belly dance class? OMG, I couldn't believe it! 

We started with warm ups and stretches, and then she immediately started to teach us a choreography. The music was fun and funky. The movements and combinations were so cute. I loved it, and man could that old, fat lady DANCE!! She was a goddess moving across the floor, her hips swaying and rolling, her chest undulating, her hands weaving gracefully through the air, an expression of ecstasy in her eyes.....I was floored! And I was hooked!

I learned a lot of things that first class. One of the biggest and most important....Belly Dance is about passion and grace and feeling the music as you move, it doesn't matter how old or young you are, how big or small....what matters is that you are doing something you love to do. Since then, I have seen dancers of all ages and sizes and all walks of life, who transform on the dance floor.  I have been enthralled by their movements and the stories they tell with their bodies, and I could care less what they look like!
Since that first class I have taken many more, roughly 2500 classes, not including workshops and practice sessions. I still take classes....this dance is so varied and so vast, I do not think I will ever learn it all.

Okay...I do believe I have nearly written a book this time. I hope my ramblings have not confused you, or appalled you with my straightforwardness! What I think is important though about this bit of rambling....If you find something that 'speaks' to you, that calls to your soul; do not put it off, do not wait till 'later' to pursue it.

And if that something happens to be Belly Dance....don't make excuses, like you will start after you loose weight, or that you'll never start because your too fat, or you'll start when you have more time, or when you can afford private lessons (because you don't want to embarrass yourself in front of other people)...there is no time like now to enjoy your life! So just Bite the Bullet and get on with it! I promise you will not regret making yourself DO what you WANT to do. :)

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