With distinct memories of being a 7 year old in the playground among school friends dancing to the “Locomotion”, I often used to go home after school itching to practice my dancing even more. I used to love it when my friends and I showed off our dancing to the other kids and dinner ladies in the playground. In a racially divided school at the time, dancing helped bring children from different ethnicities together, which is something I’ll never forget.
Now as an adult, my dance passions lie in bellydance, also known as Raqs Sharqi, Middle Eastern dance and Arabic Dancing. People often ask me in surprise, “so why bellydance?” And I always reply “WHY NOT!” Bellydance is not only a beautiful and historical artform, it has an inclusive culture open to children, men and women of all shapes and sizes, whilst embracing femininity, sensuality and celebrating diversity.
I first discovered bellydance by accident during a trip to Egypt in 2007 on a cruise along the Nile. A lady was on the dance floor in a stunning white outfit dancing to the beat of a live drummer. At the time I had no idea what she was doing, but I loved it - her energy was so uplifting and the dancing was exquisite. Everyone in the audience clapped, cheered and were taking loads of pictures. I was sat there smiling happily whilst bouncing in my seat during the performance, which did not go unnoticed because I got pulled up to dance (OMG!) - as photographed above. Later I discovered that the lady was in fact bellydancing, and the drummer was not just playing any old drum, it was the Darbuka, a classic Middle Eastern Drum. As soon as I returned to England after this trip to Egypt, I started attending bellydance classes and to this day I continue to be mesmerised by the artform (recent photo below).
Today is a good day for the bellydance community - its ‘World Bellydance Day’. Every year, the second Saturday in May is a day for bellydancers all over the world to celebrate the magic of this dance, raise awareness for what bellydance actually is and contribute to supporting local charities through their love of this dance.
So what’s YOUR muse? Think about what inspires you and brings you alive. And whatever your muse turns out to be, be it dancing, painting, singing, walking, anything... just go for it!
Happy shimmies :)