I celebrate my 58th birthday this month. And, not to be egotistical, I wanted to write about Utah's Middle Eastern dance community and myself.
I was born and raised in Utah. My mother said that I started dancing before I could walk, but my actual memories of taking classes start at age five. I started with tap dancing, then ballet, modern and folk dancing. I was and still am madly in love with ballet, and I studied the dance for many years. After I had my daughter, I gave up performing and just danced around the house.
Photo by Arthur RobergEight years ago, at the Utah Belly Dance Festival at Liberty Park, I watched Mashara Rabia dance. It changed my life. She was beautiful, extraordinary, and she wasn't in her twenties. I had found a new outlet for my dancing soul, and it didn't seem to matter that I was 50 years old. This was a dance for all women. I was very excited.
I have now been involved in the Utah belly-dance community for eight years. I have danced in a couple of troupes, studied with several teachers in the area, danced at festivals and events and taken workshops. Three years ago, I wanted something else to keep me enthusiastic about belly dancing. I decided to start writing the Bellyography column for SLUG Magazine. I wanted to educate the public about who belly dancers really are, and I also wanted to celebrate the amazing women that I have met in our dance community.
Just acquiring belly-dancing technique takes commitment. It isn't easy, and there isn't just one way to belly dance – there is gypsy fusion, folkloric, tribal, belly pop and cabaret. Wow! Then there are all the classes, rehearsals and expenditures in order to perform for about five minutes! The women of the Utah belly-dance community do all of this, and balance full-time and part-time jobs, families, school, and taking care of a home. Belly dancing takes a lot of energy, and seldom is anyone paid for the effort. We are a diverse group with diverse creativity. I believe we bring to America's belly-dancing something vibrant, refreshing, colorful and artistic. Utah is becoming well known for the high-caliber dancing that we do here. Well done, everyone!
I hope to continue highlighting various dancers in our belly -dancing world for a while longer. I hope everyone keeps reading and enjoying what I write, because I do. I am going on my third year of Bellyography. I love talking to the dancers and hearing their stories. I feel honored every time a dancer agrees to do an interview with me. I am truly in awe of the talent and creativity in this community, and it is this effort and energy that keep belly-dancing alive and well in Utah. So, yip, yip, yip and a yahoo! Keep rolling those bellies, and taking those classes, and whirling around the stage. I love it.
I will be dancing at Spring Fest and Thia's Fire and Ice Show in June. See you there.