The Dancer in Me | My journey through dance

This blog takes you on my journey through dance, the dancer in me and how it has shaped my life.

Tribalation 2015

This a photo from my 2nd Tribalation improvised solo. Tribalation is an annual fusion style belly dance showcase in South Africa. I was very proud of myself for being there a 2nd time and this time with some of my students. Its been a rough road to building up the courage to dance at an event that showcases some of the best Tribal Fusion dancers in the country. Especially if you have never had any formal training, totally self-taught and full of self-doubt. But I digress, let me go back to the beginning…….

The Beginning….

Dance is in my blood, I have been dancing since I was about 5 years old. My dance journey started with Classical ballet in the Cecchetti Method which I completed my Advanced certificate in, then on the Modern Dance, a bit of contemporary and cabaret and finally Belly Dance. I was even lucky enough to take over a Ballet School to teach the DASA method for about 5 years. Even though I was always told that I was a born dancer, choreographer and was very good at it (by teachers, adjudicators, other dancers, etc) I have never really believed it. I basically spent most of my youth and early adulthood believing that I was not good at anything, that even included my marriage and being a mother.

When life hands you lemons, Dance

But as time passed and I grew up, went through so many challenges that broke me, that made me doubt myself even more, dance was always a constant. No matter where I was I always seemed to gravitate back to dance in some form or other. I found Belly Dance (as like most people) quite by chance almost 15 years ago. I did about a year of classes with my then sister-in-law and fell in love with it. It was my savior when everything around me was falling apart….when I was falling apart during a very traumatic divorce and custody battle…..in a way you could say that it rescued me, it kept me sane.

You are never too old

At the time, around 2005-ish, there was not really much belly dance here in South Africa but I luckily had a job that allowed copious amounts of internet access…..so a closet Belly Dance stalker was born. I started following the careers of Rachel Brice, Sadie, Ansuya, Petit Jamilla, just to name a few and absorbed the beauty of Belly Dance like a sponge. Lol…I still have print outs of belly dance handbooks and notes that I found on the internet, (hey, YouTube was not so good then….heehee). Have you ever tried to teach yourself Belly Dance from a written handbook…..not easy I tell you. After leaving town and having to stop the classes that I did at the time, I found out about BDASA (Belly Dance Association of South Africa) and Shalimar Harrison, right there and then I purchased by first belly dance DVD’s. And the rest you can say is history. I spent the next couple of years learning everything I could by myself.

After moving to Rustenburg in early 2010, a teacher in a nearby town heard via a mutual friend that I belly danced, and as she put it ‘brilliant’, she approached me to take over her group of students that she did monthly workshops with, these ladies were keen to do weekly classes which she couldn’t provide. After much soul searching and once again, that inevitable self doubt I said Yes. Thanks to the faith of a then total stranger, and now close Belly dance Sister, Mira, Rusty Belly Dance was formed.

Opening my Studio

We are a very small belly dance studio in Rustenburg, in the North West province. I teach the Middle Eastern basics to all my beginners students but we do a bit of AmCab, ATS and of course, Tribal Fusion. We have been going for 5 years now, with some faithful students from the 1st classes that are still with us, but we gain a few passionate ladies every year that enjoy  and learn to love Belly Dance like I do.

Through these wonderful woman I have learnt to love myself again, to see that I am strong, that I am good enough. And even though I have had only a little formal training in Belly Dance (in the greater scheme of things) I have been willing to learn from others over time and pass that knowledge on to the ladies in my classes. We have fun, we laugh, we cry, we share each others successes, challenges and heartaches and by doing so grow each and every day.

If I can leave one final thought. I will be eternally grateful for the role that DANCE and for the dancer in me has played in making me who I am today. Far stronger, courageous and happier than I ever thought I could be. I even met the love of my life, my soul mate through Dance. If that’s not good then I don’t know what is!!

Happy Shimmying,

Jacqui

xxx

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