The Tribal Bellydance Lifestyle
In the past two articles of this series, I wrote about our Tribal Bellydance and what I’ve learned from it. We dove into the various reasons why we dance, and some of the components that make up this amazing style of dance, Gypsy Caravan Tribal Bellydance ®. But all these lessons and experiences truly can be related to any kind of dance and movement— the physical aspects of using the body, the healing power of dance, the mind-body connection, plus the connection with others. In Tribal, there is the fun of physical adornment that comes with layers of costuming on the body making us feel regal and queenly (or kingly!), and with all those connections, they just reaffirm how the dance is a celebration of life.
Besides the personal connection, we also have the outward connection, building community and making friends, starting with a little hello, to a smile, to really being able to look someone in the eyes. Then the hugs start and pretty soon you’ve got a love fest going on! I find this intoxicating, especially watching the shy ones come out of their shell, both in their bodies and in their openness to chatting it up with the others. I really believe this dance is a celebration, of oneself, of each other, of our bodies and our spirits, of feeling whole and fabulous in our skin, and of creating art in the moment—of living and loving.
The dance has a language, it is using non-verbal communication. And that is built by not only learning the language of the moves, but being able to look at each other. Not only looking into someone’s eyes, but looking at their moving bodies, as well as peering into their soul!. That is a powerful source of inspiration, of creative energy, of creating with someone in that moment, of being truly alive, powerful, beautiful.
As before, I enjoy gathering up my dancer’s words, because adding the written language and being able to express in words how dancing makes one feel, is so powerful to both the dancer and the reader!
And really, it always comes back to, why do you dance?
Tribal dance, in particular Gypsy Caravan, has changed the way I look and perceive myself and others. Instead of viewing mine and others imperfections, I see the beautiful and well-rounded women, of all shapes and sizes, come together to dance as one. As one tribe, as one body, as one voice, as one spirit. The Gypsy Caravan (dance language) and Tribal styling enable me to express myself without inhibition and gives me confidence to be the person I want to be. I am now able to move parts of my body that in all truth I didn’t think I could ever move, especially on its own in isolation. I have drawn strength from my newly gained confidence, insight and control to redirect my life journey, embarking on a new and fulfilling career. I continue to nurture my dance and help others to find the benefits that GCTB can be to others, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Monique, Western Australia
Dancing brings us to ourselves, and the basic, the primal, and most important aspect of self-care, self-awareness, and self-love. And that means knowing what you truly desire. How you want to feel. Not just what you want to do, but why you want to do it. Because of how it makes you feel.
Why dance? For me, Because it makes me feel freakin’ great! Alive. Whole. Connected. Healthy. Real. You?
Our bodies are our temples. This physical body is what we have. Right here. Give it a smack. Feel it. We are not invincible beings.One must revere their own body. Honor it. Love it. Nourish it. So it will work for and with us. We use our bodies, as dancers, for our expression. It is not only our vessel for life, but our tool for creation. We are all creative beings. We all create our own reality.
So why would you not take care of this precious temple? Or yourself? How can one expect to survive, to be successful in their work and love if one doesn’t take the time to care for oneself, first.
To truly feel the body, the muscles, the sways, the heartbeat, the sweat and tears, the emotional highs and lows, is an awesome experience, to really be able to tune in to ourselves. It can be a crazy rat race out there in the world, with multi-tasking, every sort of ipad and iphone and social networking and how many things can one do in one day type of living. To take the time to de-stress, to quiet the self and listen to what one really wants, to how one feels and what feels good, instead of over-stimulation or over-eating or over-anything!
What does that mean for you? There are many ways to check in, most importantly is taking that quality time for yourself. Then using that time wisely, and this could be sitting in meditation, journaling, more dance, cross-training, watching what you eat by cutting out those unhealthy processed and sugary foods, to name a few. And truly diving into your soul to see what you desire to live a full and happy and healthy life. What kind of daily ritual do you and can you do for yourself? Weekly?
Do you have self-care habits? Just for you to think about. Try adding one self-care practice to your daily and weekly schedules and see how it affects you, your work day, your home day, your body, mental and emotional and spiritual health, and your dance and expression. Write it down, and write down how you feel about it when you have finished. Make a difference?
Ask yourself, what does feel good to you? How do you want to feel? One of my heroes, Tony Robbins, says to build emotional biceps! When I dance, it makes me feel good, and then my emotions are better, and everything feels better and we build that kind of muscle memory too, not just memory for the dance steps, but memory on feeling great!
Why do I dance? There are so many layers. I dance for me—balance, self awakening, nurturing, sharing, connecting, calming, centering—for me it nourishes a creative chasm that needs to be continually fed, a continual creative sustaining juice with so many colours, flavours and layers. Our circle of dance and the very heartbeat of our group circle is so powerful and draws us close, keeps us close. It’s safe, raw and honest, open and trusting. We make it so ….it is a sanctuary we create and nurture every time we get together. Why this Dance? This is so much more than a dance, it is a lifestyle, an awakening, a life force to be acknowledged. It becomes self awakening and a self discovering journey as we embrace the dance, movement, patterns. The body is responsive… connecting head, heart, muscle memory, our Chi.
This dance is body friendly, for all and across all ages, continuing and inspiring, so many layers to be unwrapped.
Why do I teach? I love teaching more than I thought I ever would. It was not my first thought to teach but I so wanted to share this dance and to do so justly, therefore acknowledging the need to explore me and the dance. It, too, has been a learning journey of self awareness. I am becoming the teacher I want to be and still so much to do and learn. I love to be a teacher but embrace being a student too. I enjoy the continual input, reinforcement, refreshing and reflection, working alongside Paulette and the connection with the other Gypsy Caravan teachers and Master Teachers.
I continue to learn to nurture myself as well as giving to others. Paulette once asked me when I danced for me … I realised didn’t ….I had to work towards remedying that … we give so much as teachers we need to remember to nurture the self. As teachers in training with the levels of the Gypsy Caravan Tribal Bellydance Certification program, Paulette nurtures our creativity and we embrace the ethos, then taking it to our corners of the globe to create our dance circles in the knowledge that our Community is alive and well and growing healthily.
Christine, New Zealand
I’ve learned so much through this dance. I’ve been blessed to travel the globe to share the dance, to guide dancers on their personal journeys using the dance, finding their words and expression, exploring their relationships through their dance, and build their businesses as dance instructors too. Incorporating Tribal Bliss, using our movement as prayer and meditation for healing and renewal. I’ve learned how to run my own business—on both a large and small scale, and how to guide and support others in theirs. Methods on how to structure successful classes, develop a discipline practice, share artistic ethics. Over my 28+ years in this particular genre, mistakes have been made. Celebrations have been had. Awards have been won. Music has been created. Hearts have been broken. Friendships started and ended. I’ve been the proud Tribal Mama, as well as the networking Tribal Hostess. All the journeys of life with, through, and because of the dance.
My continuing role now is to pass it on, with integrity, love, and passion. To teach the dancers and the teachers how to carry on the tradition, to fulfill their own dreams, to be the best they can be, to take care of themselves, to honor the past as well as the future. And most importantly, to be present in the moment and enjoy life!
So here is to you, my fellow dancers…may you continue on your dance journey with health and well being, an open heart, true connections, and beauty in all its forms.
Enjoy my little poem!
Doing what you love
doing what you want
what calls your heart, your soul, you body
dancing forward with intention
burning deep with that familiar longing
the ache of reaching
from the ground up
the toes curl
with every touch
with every step
reaching for it
and knowing that
so you think, you write, it is
action into being
with a ululation
screeching and shimmering from the throat
weaving into and out of the soul
the deepest knowing you have
the insatiable ever present desire
allow the body to know
inspiration, expression, creation,
what you do
what do you do
do what you do
PRD, copyright 2015
Thank you my friends, do what you love!
This article originally appeared in Zaghareet Magazine!
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