I finish all the classes that I teach with some freestyle time. I think it’s one of the most (if not the ONLY) important thing during a bellydance class – to dance by yourself, with no instructions or frames, but just dance. Very often I hear the same things from different students – “It’s too hard to dance when people watch me” or “I can’t dance, I don’t know how” or “I’m not that good yet, I’ll dance later”. Despite all these fears, I still encourage my students to freestyle. And I want to share with you my experience and thoughts about it, that might help other beginner dancers to feel more comfortable while free-styling.
Will it be it too cliche if I star from reminding how beautiful you all are? It it so true, we all know it, but nobody can really remember it when it comes to dancing. Don’t compare yourself to other people! I really like what Osho tells us… He is saying that comparison brings inferiority, superiority. When you don’t compare, all inferiority, all superiority, disappears. Then you are, you are simply there. Let’s face it, there is always going to be somebody who is more beautiful, more talented, stronger, more intelligent, or apparently happier than you are. And conversely, there will always be those who are less than you in all these ways. The way to find out who you are is not by comparing yourself with others, but by looking to see whether you are fulfilling your own potential in the best way you know how.
So stop thinking that you are not as good as others. Your dancing is unique and it doesn’t have to do anything with other’s dance experience!
Speaking of experience… You will be surprised to find out that other people don’t even think about you as much as you think they do! I’ve been teaching bellydance for more than 8 years and I know for a fact that people who dance with you in the class, actually think about themselves. We are all concerned about our shapes, styles or even the way we put our make up on the day of the class! So everybody is watching themselves only and everybody is so busy judging or loving themselves, they just don’t see you! Let’s not get into how good or bad this habit is, but focus on our main idea – other students just don’t have time to judge your dancing, simply because they are focused on their own!
That leads me to another point. Dance classes are there to help us understand what we don’t want to do on stage (when I say “stage” I mean everything – from dancing in the theater, restaurant show or in front of our family. All these have a common thing – audience, your audience). There are so many mirrors where you can see your reflection for a reason. You have to try some things first, before bringing them to your performance. But how would you know what not to bring to the stage if you haven’t tried it and saw how it looks? Dance anything you want, allow yourself to be silly, experiment. This is how you decide what you like about your dancing! There will be things you will think: “Thank God I tried this move here and not in front of the audience!” But you have to start improvising and trying things out!
The society taught us that we can’t be free and open minded in a room full of other women. It’s sad, because long time ago bellydance was danced by women and for women. Women were spending most of their time together, while men were hunting or fighting. Women knew how to support each other and fulfill each other with strong positive energy. If we think how great it can be to dance in the circle for other women, give and receive each other’s experience and support each other’s dancing, we can truly enjoy the freestyle time! But you have to be the first one to set up an example that you are not afraid dancing in front of your classmates and show them trust of knowing they won’t judge you…
We forget that dance exists to give us the feelings of freedom, happiness and joy. We try so hard to create a perfect figure eight with our hips that miss the main idea of dancing. Enjoy the music, the ability to move, let yourself be open and free! My teacher always used to joke – you already paid for you class! Why not trying something you wouldn’t do at home? 🙂