Sometimes slow and sensual, sometimes upbeat and rhythmic, the mesmerizing art of belly dance continues to captivate me a full 10 years after I first discovered it.
I want to talk a little bit about what belly dance offers the modern pagan in particular, and why taking up this dance style compliments neopagan spirituality so well.
Belly dance celebrates the divine nature of womanhood. While many dance communities place high value on youth and specific body types, belly dance respects the beauty in every stage of life. Although the “triple goddess” theme is not a concept in belly dance, it’s easy to see the correlation between belly dance’s respect for the sacred feminine in all its forms, from young girlhood to full pregnancy and even well into the crone years.
Belly dance is perfect for covens. Raising energy with belly dance in a circle is super fun! Try “passing” the energy from one person to another, like a “wave” at a baseball game, but with shimmies or hip circles.
Belly dance is perfect for solitaries. Belly dance is performed in groups (as in American Tribal Style), but it is also a solo art. Solitary practitioners benefit from the opportunity to develop a unique belly dance style and have something to share at festivals or private parties.
Belly dance is culturally eclectic. While many people commonly believe that belly dance originates in the Middle East, no one actually knows from where what we call “belly dance” today descended. Modern belly dance may incorporate flavors of hip hop, ballet, Bollywood or African dance. This openness to enrichment of the belly dance vocabulary makes it uniquely adaptable. Egyptian witch? Try an Egyptian style belly dance. I’ve even seen blends of belly dance with Celtic dance or Thai.
The belly dance community is generally pretty damn welcoming. No one will whisper about you showing up to a halfa in a midriff just because you don’t have Kate Middleton’s stomach.
You’ll find a lot of pagans. Especially in the tribal belly dance community. It won’t take you long to run into a few “of your own.”
You’ll probably dig the wardrobe. Chances are, there’s already something in your closet you can wear to a belly dance party or class. I don’t know why there’s so much overlap but . . . there is.
Well, there you have it. A few of the many reasons to make this the year you learn a beautiful new form of expression. Blessed be!