Forum: Folk / Belly Dance

Belly Dance
My first belly dance anniversary
By Naoisemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 1463, member since Tue Apr 20, 2004
On Mon Feb 21, 2011 08:46 AM

Just wanted to share with you all a note I wrote on Facebook about my first year as a belly dancer.

One year ago today I took my first belly dance class. Just a week prior I had been sitting in the parking lot of my GI doctor's office with Bryan, complaining about how my body had turned on me, giving me all these stomach issues and making me retire from Irish dance. Upset, I talked about how much I missed being a dancer and then I remembered how a few years before I had said that one day I would try belly dance. I figured that since it was a lower impact dance form I'd had no problem trying it out. I pulled out my phone and googled “belly dance arlington” because I had remembered seeing something about a belly dance studio somewhere near Clarendon. Sure enough, up popped Saffron Dance and clicked through to the site. Lucky me! There was a 4-week crash course starting in just days! It was on Sunday mornings with a lady named Mayyada. I signed up then and there from my phone.

The first day of class came and I was so nervous. The only dance classes I had ever taken were Irish and I hadn't even started that until my early 20's. I joined the other girls around a basket of coin scarfs and picked out a pretty gold and black one. As soon as I tied it around my waist and rolled up my tank top to expose my belly, the nerves subsided a bit. I reminded myself that chances were, no one in the class had ever taken belly dance before and in fact, it turned out that most of them had never danced before. I had head start by being both a musician and a dancer.

Mayyada turned out to be this amazing redhead with an even more amazing back piece that made my back itch for a new tattoo. As she lead us in warm-ups, I quickly decided I liked this chick's style. As she taught us our first moves I watched myself in the mirror and I must say, I looked GOOD! Halfway through the class I realized I was trying to figure out how belly dance would fit into my budget. I knew before class was even over that I was going to be signing up for the next semester. I went home and told Bryan I was going to be a belly dancer.

I ended up signing up for Oriental 1 with Mayyada. I had really enjoyed her class and was excited to have her as my teacher. I fell hard for Saffron, I have to say. The school was awesome and so were the people I was dancing with.
The next semester I took O1 again because I really wanted to make sure I knew what I was doing. I knew that one day I wanted to perform, that this wasn't just a hobby for me. That is when I met Saphira.

Saphira is...I don't even know the words to use to describe her. Sure, she's known as the lawyer who left her career to start a belly dance studio, but she is so much more than that. I was already hooked, but taking her class made everything click. At the end of the semester, Saphira invited me to join the newest performance company. It would be made up of girls from my level and our performance would be the big winter show. I was over the moon with excitement. Saphira thought I was good enough to perform on stage?! What an honor! I still had to go to tryouts, though and boy was that intimidating. Most of the girls had a ton of experience save a few of us. I couldn't do half the moves they had us do, but Saphira had warned me about that so I didn't feel too bad. A few days later, I got my formal invite to join Malfouf. I was so, so proud. I can't tell you was an awesome feeling.

I moved up to Oriental 2, skipping Oriental 1+, at Saphira's suggestion. I personally thought I wasn't ready, but as everyone at Saffron knows, if Saphira says you are ready, you are ready. On top of my O2 class, I had two hours with the lovely ladies of Malfouf and the O1/O2 performance class that was also dancing with us. Amazingly enough, Mayyada was one of the choreographers, so of course I was thrilled. We also had another lovely redhead, Allaria, teaching us. At first I was overwhelmed, but with the support of my Shimmy Sisters, I pushed though and I have to say, come December we kicked butt! I made so many great friends during this time. More than I ever made in my years of Irish dance. The December show was hands down the best thing I have ever done as a performer, musically or in dance. I also spent that semester working at the studio one night a week. I loved it, I loved chatting with the other students coming in for class. I also loved seeing the school behind the scenes.

This semester I am taking Oriental 2 with a teacher named Samar. I was very excited to have her, as she is also a former Irish dancer. She's already done what I want to do, make the transformation from Irish dancer to belly dancer. I am also dancing with Malfouf again. We have lost Allaria to another company, but we still have our Mayyada. This next choreography is kicking my butt, but it's so much fun and I can't wait for everyone to see it. And best thing? Bryan will be joining us on stage. I am that much closer to realizing my dream of soloing with my habibi. Things couldn’t get any better.

I have a belly dance name now, Alimah Azim. It means “skilled at music and dance” and “defender”. Alimah is blue-eyed and full of attitude. I can't wait until her first solo.

Belly dance has done so much for me. It ended my sedentary lifestyle, I now dance 3 hours in one day. It changed my body, I look great! I have so much more confidence. That December show was the first time I had ever danced without nerves. My self-esteem is higher than it had ever been. I love the music, the people, the dance. My teachers and classmates mean the world to me and all have a place in my heart. And I will forever be a champion of Saffron. It is a great place to be and everyone should go. Most of all, I am so grateful that Saphira has blessed us with her knowledge and given us all a place where we can feel safe and be ourselves. I have met some amazing women and wouldn't trade any of this for anything.

I am a belly dancer. And I love it.

Happy Shimmies!
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3 Replies to My first belly dance anniversary

re: My first belly dance anniversary
By NOVA_ Comments: 46, member since Fri Dec 10, 2010
On Wed Feb 23, 2011 04:19 PM
Congradulations and Happy Aniversary!
re: My first belly dance anniversary
By Celebrianmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 7921, member since Thu Mar 31, 2005
On Tue Mar 01, 2011 02:02 PM
Go, go, go YOU! I wish I lived near you, Miss Neesha, so we could dance in the same classes.

Happy Belly-versary!
re: My first belly dance anniversary
By Naoisemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 1463, member since Tue Apr 20, 2004
On Tue Mar 01, 2011 02:06 PM
Me, too, Cele! You'd love my school.

And this past Sunday, Saphira, the director, pulled me aside to say that this was the nicest thing anyone has ever said about the school and asked if I would willing to let it go up on the homepage of the website. I just need to pick a picture and then it will be up for about a month!

I feel so honored.