“So, what is a Druid doing belly dance for?” you may be wondering. “Shouldn’t you be doing céilí?”
Well, first of all… a modern Druid can dance however she wants!
Second… I never seem to be able to find a céilí class that is convenient for me. Or find one at all. When I lived in the Mohawk Valley, I was lucky enough to try céilí dancing once at a workshop. It was a lot of fun and I would have gladly taken the class but something came up with work or college… There are step dancing classes here in the North Country but they’re for wee ones and teenagers. I’ve emailed about adult classes but never heard a response. C’est la vie.
Third… belly dance is amazing! To be honest, I would rather belly dance than just about anything else… (Although I would still like to learn some ballroom and, yes, more céilí.)
I first became interested in belly dance in high school. I obtained one of those “kits” at Barnes & Nobel. You know – the themed boxes that have books with supplies in them. In this case, it was a red and yellow box with a book about belly dance, a somewhat low-quality DVD, some silly body stickers, and a pair of zils. I practiced in my room and had the worst posture ever.
In my freshman year of college, I broke up with my first boyfriend. It was really upsetting to me and did a number on my confidence. It was around this time that I became very spiritual. Paganism became a much bigger part of my life. The time I used to spend talking to my boyfriend went to reading about Wicca, practicing magic, finding other Pagans… It helped my heart heal. Belly dance was the other cure. I remember finding out about a local class, stepping into that studio for the first time, and feeling so welcomed. Back then, I was moving from eclectic Wicca to a really shallow exploration of Kemetics. When I was younger, the Egyptian Goddess Bast was my patroness and she was very dear to me. Finding a studio that focused on Egyptian style belly dance seemed like just the thing. Hell, Bast was all over that place physically and spiritually. Here were women of all shapes, ages, and sizes moving seductively and feeling beautiful and confident! It was here that I really learned how to feel music, to dance, and to love me. It was in belly dance that I started to feel sexy and desirable again.
Bast and I went our separate ways shortly after that. She is associated with beauty and seductiveness, and I found that in myself through belly dance. Perhaps she was leading me and initiating me into womanhood. The woman I was becoming was not a Kemetic priestess, but we made our peace with that. Life twists and turns.
When I moved to the North Country, there didn’t seem to be any belly dance. Work, my wedding, and then grad school basically consumed my life. Now that I have my MA, am comfortably married, and settled in my career, I felt I should look around for belly dance again. I recently found a studio at St. Lawrence University offering a tribal belly dance workshop and excitedly registered. I’m so glad I did! As soon as I walked in, I felt that welcoming spirit. I was embraced by women of all shapes, colors, ages, and sizes. We worked together for two hours learning basic belly dance movies and tribal techniques. I shimmied my hips, snaked my arms, and undulated my whole body. I felt womanly and alive! The lady leading the workshop, Ms. Tina, a visiting belly dance instructor, emphasized that tribal belly dance (which originated in America as a blend of traditional styles with other forms of dance) is about women. It is danced by women for women to celebrate our bodies and our energy – creative, seductive, loving, self-absorbed, sisterly, motherly, and all our many moods. It’s a time and a place to celebrate our curves, to sweat together, to laugh together, and to feel sexy.
I love it.
The woman who teaches belly dance in St. Lawrence County, Basimah, focuses on Egyptian – my original style. I’m hoping to take some of her classes in the future. It’s not céilí but it speaks to my soul.
Plus, I can always combine my favorite form of dance with one of my favorite forms of (very Druidic) music!
And, you know… it comes in handy around drum circles at festivals all over the world. 😀