I was 8 when I had a few weeks of ballet, 9 when my mother told me that I had no dancing talent, and 10 when I thought that I was hopeless because people laughed when I made any attempts at dancing.
Five years later, in my first ballroom dancing class, I found that I had let go all my childish awkwardness, my mawkish tiptoeing and eighteen million left feet, as it were. I found that I could dance.
“Could,” of course, is our operative word. I wasn’t the best dancer on the planet. I couldn’t perform for a crowd on a professional stage. But I had rhythm and some form of grace; I learned steps easily; I could do footwork.
I have scoliosis, however, and I am limited in how much I can do with my body; but I could dance. I can dance.
High school wasn’t the end of my ballroom dancing days. Where there was ballroom dancing at a party, there I was, on the dance floor. I would dance even without ballroom dancing! I recently went to a barn dance. I learned more ballroom dancing, as well as some tap dancing in college.
I now have a new dancing repertoire. This time, it’s belly dancing.
Mind you, I’m not an expert; and again, I’ve only just begun to explore belly dancing. And again, mind you, it’s just for exercise.
For as long as I could remember, however, I haven’t exactly been at peace with the body I’ve been given. I’ve always seen myself as either too thin or too fat, too disproportionate, too childish and pathetic.
And yes, I’ve been told all that, too. You’re too tiny, you don’t have a good body, you have stretch marks, you have too much hair, your breasts are flat, your thighs are big, your skin isn’t good, your body isn’t good, blah blah blah blah blah…
Oh BLOODY HELL.
Somehow, belly dancing has given me confidence in my body. The dance style itself forces you to isolate muscles, to work on them individually, to extend them and strengthen them so that you do not strain your back, but work your stomach instead.
Belly dancing is starting to make me feel better – and in this wintry season, in the gray and ice, it’s something that I need and crave desperately.
I’ve enrolled in classes, and during the week, when I have to stay in the office beyond my usual hours, I turn to my YouTube subscriptions and practice my moves.
I’ve noticed changes in myself as well. I walk better, and my posture has improved. I’ve learned to hold my chin high, to glide, not drag my feet, to walk like a princess, to walk like a queen.
I’m a work in progress, of course. No queenly walk, no princess stance, no confidence ever comes overnight. If it does, I may lose it. I want to keep this confidence now, this happy blush that dancing gives to me.
NEW NOTE: I bared my belly in belly dancing class last night. Granted, it was a semi-private space, but I’ve never been able to bare my belly in public (or semi-public). Major step toward more confidence!