I’ve been belly dancing on and off for about five years – mostly off. At first I took lessons from Lilla Varese. She and her husband, Martin Diedrich own Kean Coffee, one of my favorite coffee shops. I’ve always liked dancing, and thought I was pretty good at it, especially when I danced with my grandpa, Joe Martinez. But shuffling our feet and shaking our hips with little connection to the beat, proved to be a detriment to the controlled moves of this beautiful ancient art form.
Then I stopped because some belly dancing moves unlocked truly uncomfortable feelings – like attempting shoulder shimmies reminded me of growing raisins to melons by the end of junior high and the rumors that spread like wildfire about me. A power to wield without knowledge is frightening. Well, at least then it was…
Hoping to learn more, I included the background of Belly Dancing for my book, The Enchanted Diary under the Herstory section. I learned that in its purest form, belly dancing is an expression of the joy of living. Plus you get a work out and it makes you feel sexy.
So last fall, inspired by my friend Rue’s tough and hot roller derby ensemble, I decided the time had come to embrace my sensuality and strength. I joined a class and quickly asked Farrah Talei to give me private lessons in exchange for massage. I also helped her write her story about the struggle to embrace her love of the dance in the face of her parents’ and culture’s disapproval.
So now I’m shimming while brushing my teeth and shaking during my walks. And those it’s taken awhile to get graceful, its worth it.
To me, belly dancing is a way to own your feminine strength and allows you to be the gypsy you are wherever you are.