There are two questions that we like to periodically ask our students. For brand new dancers, we ask, "Why belly dance and why now?" - that itself could yield several blog entries. But we also ask returning dancers, "What is the most surprising aspect of your dance experience and how has it revealed itself since coming to Saffron?"
One of the loveliest answers to this question came from a newer dancer now in the studio for a little over 5 months. She saw me whizzing through one of the studios and as I stopped for a quick hello she revealed something SO powerful to me about her experience at Saffron.
I had been her first teacher at Saffron so we had a nice rapport with one another. She confided in me that before coming to the studio, she did not feel particularly affectionate towards her body and her build. This comment was quite familiar to me as I've been in the belly dance business for nearly two decades. And those who know me at Saffron are aware that I - like many women - struggle with loving my body as it is, while my body ebbs and flows from how I may want it to be.
It was this woman's next remark that left me both endeared to her and to the role that this dance can play in students' lives. She shared that since starting her weekly dose at Saffron, she has seen and noticeable change in the way she feels about her body. In effect, she likes her body more and appreciates the way it looks and moves in a way that she had not experienced before belly dancing. And she can feel that difference in her attitude and her sense of positivism throughout the week. She further shared that if she misses a week, she feels a little less of that self-love.
Since the day I learned my first shimmy, I could relate to this sentiment. And ever since, whether I am teaching or taking a class, I renew that connection and improved feeling towards my body image. Early on, I learned that dancers wanted to know what changes in their body they might experience by starting to dance. What I share is the following - "I can't guarantee that belly dance is going to miraculously give you the figure that you have dreamed of - as that is contingent on so many other factors that have less to do with classes in the studio and more to do with the rest of your day and week. But what I can guarantee is that you will feel differently about the body that you have, while you ebb and flow from the body that you may or may not desire." And I have learned that this promise is received with both gratitude and trust as it feels both realistic and desirable.
So here's yet another moment to say how grateful I am that regardless of level and experience, students continue to teach me lessons of life, love and happiness through the wonderful lens of dance.
From my heart to your hips,