I have been a student and performer of the Middle Eastern belly dance for 16 years. I began this dance form at age 52 when a friend of mine told me she was taking an Adult Education class in Middle Eastern belly dancing. Here was an opportunity right in my own community. I was going to live out my adult fantasy - to be a belly dancer! And so I joined the class and have been a student ever since. I am now 68 and have no intention of slowing down…
In 1999, I started to teach a belly dance class to women over the age of 55. We meet every Friday for an hour and a half at a recreation center in San Diego.
And why do I teach this class? Because I love helping the women re-discover the magic and mystery of true feminine energy. Something miraculous happens to these women when they belly dance; they begin to emerge like an earth mother, a little girl, a prom queen and a seductress all in one. I help them to realize what I learned 12 years ago - that when we belly dance we get in touch with the profound wisdom and beauty of who we really are - no matter what our age or size of our belly.
I always tell them to love their belly… besides it is the only one they have! Eventually the women move towards greater self-acceptance and confidence. They learn to be empathic in response to the energetic music. They learn to lead, to follow and to let go.
Belly Dance is improvisational. There are basic moves to the dance, but once learned the dance becomes a personal expression of the dancer. Characteristic of today's dance are movements of the pelvis and undulations of the body. These movements are not socially taught in our culture. Instead, there are restrictions placed on the movement of certain body parts and how much they may be moved. Belly dance breaks through those barriers, freeing up the body so women can fully express their feminine self.
Dance is a metaphor for life. In dance, we move through time and space, just as we do while we live out the passage of our lives. The belly dance is truly a unification of body, heart and mind. It's also fun to get dressed up in a "costume", exercise our hips and our belly, and do this in a non-threatening atmosphere of acceptance of our female sensuality.
And finally, the belly dance helps women to return to where life begins, our primordial womb. What a wonderful way to find the connection between our heart and soul and the expression of our body.
Click here to read Sandra's article on Belly Dancing for the midlife soul.