From Divorce to a New Life Through Belly Dance
One of the most common themes surrounding belly dance is fate. Something intangible draws us close to this dance, and once it takes a hold, there is no letting go. For Ellen*, the journey to belly dance began with a simple act of strength.
After being married for over 20 years, and at one of the lowest parts of her life, Ellen found herself saying goodbye to her husband.
"I had lost my love, my passion, my drive for life," said Ellen.
Then some form of luck, destiny, or mercy struck. While sitting alone and looking at the local recreation center class offerings, one phrase in particular stood out.
"I saw belly dance," Ellen said. "And there was no turning back."
At first, dance served as a way to make new friends, as Ellen was relatively new to Tennessee*. Then, belly dance became more than just an activity, and more like a support system.
"In time, life reared its head to challenge me at every step, as divorce will do, but dance was there, and I loved it," said Ellen.
Dancing may have helped, but the teachers who Ellen turned to were no less stressful than the unhappy life she'd left behind. She found herself being cut down and singled out in classes by teachers who clearly weren't built for the craft.
"New dancers are fresh and alive, but also scared and insecure," Ellen said. "In my rather vulnerable state, any criticism and negativity was extremely hard to swallow."
She resolved to make yet another change. After dancing for less than a year, she set out to find a teacher who could nurture her growing love of belly dance and make it bloom.
"I made some very tough decisions and found new teachers, as the alternative was not dancing and that I could not do," Ellen said. "Belly dancing had grabbed my soul and spirit and was not letting go."
The decision paid off. Ellen has since found a community of dancers, musicians and entertainers that she cherishes. In addition, she has continued to grow as a dancer and a person through these experiences. But she still retains that first love she felt toward belly dance.
"I have only been dancing a few years, but am no less impassioned by the beauty, grace, and history of a dance that is as natural to a woman and her body as giving birth or making love."
If you're a dancer just starting a journey in belly dance, Ellen has this advice for you:
- This is a dance of the heart and soul. Let no one take that from you.
- Make decisions for yourself that make you happy and that help you grow as a member of your belly dance community and as a dancer.
- Try not to take things to personal, but stand up for yourself when needed.
- Enjoy your brothers and sisters in this dance.
- Be supportive and loving and kind. Always.
*Ellen's name and location have been changed per her request to remain anonymous