62. Bounce and Sway

62. Bounce and Sway

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Curvy & Confident

Bounce and Sway

There was a time in history, a long time ago, when the bounce and sway of a woman’s hips was considered so beautiful that they set it to music and made a dance out of it.

~Carolena Nericcio-Bohlman

The drummer in the corner of the room was lost in her own world. I sat on the floor and watched the women, who would eventually become my “tribe,” enter one by one.

This was new to everyone and we all looked a little nervous, if not shy. Belly dancing would make us anything but shy or nervous. And over the course of this class, we would find a sisterhood in this dance we were about to share.

Our instructor, Kym, was petite and kind. She asked us to stand evenly spaced, feet hip-distance apart, with our bare feet rooted to the ground feeling the earth beneath us.

The drummer continued to play while we warmed up.

Class started with Kym moving her body in ways I didn’t think were possible for me. It was hypnotic to watch. Then it was our turn. As a class, we tried our best to copy a few of the basic moves she had demonstrated. It was very strange to move this way, but once we got the hang of it, we blossomed as dancers.

The class ended as it would each week, with all of us gathering in a large circle around the room. Kym moved to the center and danced in front of us, and we copied her moves. Then she tagged each person to take the spot in the center. That woman danced, showing her own moves.

At first, this was difficult. But we all grew more confident over time, and it helped that we were not judgmental of each other, just loving and encouraging.

I am by no means a big girl; I am not perfect either. But this dance wasn’t about being perfect or what society says is perfect. It was about celebrating our curves and diversity. I called us the Sacred Feminine Tribe, as we found acceptance for all our differences and came together to share in this ancient dance.

The most liberating thing for me was finding the courage to dress for class in the traditional clothing of a belly dancer.

As the weeks turned into months, it was amazing to see the transformation in all of us. We became confident ladies celebrating the movements our bodies had learned. It wasn’t anything risqué or sexual.

The most liberating thing for me was finding the courage to dress for class in the traditional clothing of a belly dancer. I became adept at sewing amazing outfits, from coin bras to flamenco style tops and flouncy skirts that billowed when I spun around, to the genie type pants normally worn — all of it was empowering.

The dance captivated, wowed, beguiled, and it gave me permission to be in command of the space I occupied as a female.

Because of belly dance, I understood that my body is unique and beautiful. And through this ancient and very proud form of celebration, I became more me than I ever thought possible.

~B. R. Dunkelman

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