One of the greatest gifts I’ve received through having dance as my teacher is how to more deeply and fully embody being a woman, in all her wonderfully expressive articulations, strengths, and mystery.
As a young girl I remember the disappointment felt when told I would someday make a good preacher’s wife. Why couldn’t I be the preacher, I wondered? There were other religiously-motivated restrictions placed upon me that hindered my self-realization and ability to trust my own instincts that 30+ years of involvement in the embodied art and practice of dance has helped me overcome. Most girls today have more role models and career options than our mothers and grandmothers did, however there is still a need, I believe, to more fully embody Womanhood on a woman’s own terms and embrace a spiritual perspective that mirrors her image back to herself. Dance, specifically my dedication to women’s dance traditions from the greater Middle East, has helped me cultivate new potentials in my own life through offering a different lens through which to explore and nurture feminine embodiment.
I am grateful to have been born in a time and place where I have the freedom to be a professional dancer and not suffer from stigma nor have my life in danger, either by war violence or by tribal honor codes and repressive governments that would deem me a threat to social order. However, in spite of modernity’s admirable achievements, there are still existential challenges to our technological, capitalist, and utilitarian milieu; including a sense of isolation from community, a potential dampening of emotional depth and nuance, and a disconnection from the natural world -including our own bodies- into which, due to the many distractions of our stressful and overstimulated lives, we sometimes forget we are integrally woven.
I believe the reason belly dance, a woman’s dance birthed in the Middle East, is so popular among western women -indeed, among women all over the globe- is that there is a yearning, a deep longing, to connect to the shared mystery of the Feminine; a feature of ancient societies that is seeking to reemerge in our contemporary world. Many present-day evolutionary philosophers, practitioners, and spiritual leaders have identified the present call to re-enchantment of the world and the return of the Divine Feminine to Her right place as the evolutionary move required on the spiritual plane if we are to address some of our most pressing problems, including climate change.
As someone who has developed a deep love for Middle-Eastern expressive arts, whose life has been so enriched by the artistic and spiritual legacy tended to by these ancient lands and peoples, my heart is pained by the degree of violence and turmoil that continues to unfold there. It makes me reflect upon why I’ve chosen this path -or it has chosen me- when I was born so far away in Northern California and have no familial ancestry from those lands. As I see it, I am in a position both to shed light on some of the most beautiful aspects of these cultures at a time when there is a lot of fear brewing, and to send out a signal, a healing light bringing together all women to honor and celebrate our shared spiritual legacy.
I refer to spirituality because before dance was entertainment, it was ritual with deep significance and healing potential, reflecting the natural world and connecting us to the spiritual realm. Women played a central role in spiritual healing affairs before being usurped by new religions, gods, and agendas. While, generally speaking (because there are variations of expression), Islamic culture in the Middle East is not at first blush known for being particularly honoring of women by modern standards, the irony is that the segregation of the sexes has often allowed women’s culture, including shamanic healing practices, to stay alive free from the gaze of male scrutiny.
The Middle East is in need of deep healing. Indeed, we all are. Through dance practices we gain the benefits of health, including stress-reduction and bodily well-being that comes from physical activity, community engagement, and the heart-opening joy of music and embodied self-expression. We can also connect spiritually to our Source and to our shared humanity, and in the case of my unique offerings, specifically nurture our connection to Womankind past and present, a bond I believe is crucial to cultivate in modern times.
If what I have shared resonates with you, I invite you to partake in this journey with me, as we all have an important part to play. I look forward to offering more ways to connect through classes, programs, workshop intensives, and presentations highlighting women’s world dance and embodied healing traditions. It is through sharing the beauty and wisdom of these practices, making them relevant to our contemporary society and what we seek to manifest, that I can most be of service to you and our shared community. So stay tuned!
I look forward getting to know you better, so please connect with me on social media, or feel free to send me a message.