Towards the end of my senior year of high school, my yoga studio began offering Bellydance classes. Partly out of curiosity, and partly because my mother goaded me into it, I decided to attend. This was actually pretty far out of my comfort zone, and I didn't know what to expect at all. I had no previous exposure to Bellydance and I hadn't taken ANY type of dance class in at least six years. I considered myself awkward and weirdly proportioned. So as I drove to the studio on that first fateful Friday morning, "I Don't Dance" from "High School Musical 3" was playing in my head on a loop. I was nervous, to say the least. At that time in my life, I was an anxious mess, so this was honestly a little bit of a desperate hope for a distraction, but it ended up being so much more than that.
When I walked into my first class I was pleasantly surprised to see that nobody's midriff was exposed as I had expected, and soft Egyptian music played in the background. The teacher, Jenny, was extremely welcoming and kind. I felt at ease, and for an hour and 10 minutes, I was able to forget my problems and laugh at myself as I attempted to move my body in ways it had never moved before. I was awful - but so was almost everybody else in the class. And it didn't seem to matter anyway, we were having fun and exercising.
Over the months that followed, I fell in love with the dance. Every week, twice a week, I was extremely excited to attend. I brought my friends, I told everybody about it, and I even bought my own hip scarf and veil. I was in the best shape of my life, which isn't saying much, but I was still taking care of my body and moving around a lot more than before. I was getting better and better each week at shimmying and undulating. It was the one thing I took really seriously in my life. It helped me to let go of my anxiety and instead build a steady confidence within myself. Jenny taught us how to take up space in a room. To move with confidence and ease. I began to love dancing. Now "Dancing Queen" played in my head on my drives instead of "I Don't Dance". I was also encouraged enough to try more new things, like hoop dancing. I was a new woman.
Due to a scheduling conflict, Bellydance was recently removed from my studio's schedule. While this was greatly upsetting to me, I know it isn't the end of me and Bellydance. I will continue to practice and to reap the many benefits of the art form. But even if it doesn't happen right away, I am still so grateful for everything that I gained through my experience. I am forever grateful to my studio, my mom (for making me go), and to my teacher, Jenny.
If you ever get the chance to take a Bellydance class, do it.