The Authentic BellyDancer

From The Good Life July 2006


Much of what we feel and do is automatic, controlled by our brains pre-programmed responses. Regularly repeated actions and thoughts are imprinted in this way. Although not completely understood 'memory trace' is believed to be a chemical change in the brain where such information is absorbed, fixed and remembered subconsciously. Our brains are therefore stamped with innumerable references to our past that are both desirable and undesirable. This, although not fully conceived or recognised by our minds, can, without conscious triggering, ignite and shape our responses and thoughts. Control of imprinting is therefore desirable but always remember that it is not just what you do or think but also how you are feeling that is programmed - so be careful.

As a BellyDance teacher I quickly became aware of the dramatic effects this has on dance expression and movement.   This becomes starkly apparent watching a large group of BellyDance students moving together on a dance floor.   Even after years of dedication those students trained with choreography often cannot 'just dance to the music', the imprinting of choreography having suppressed their natural rhythm altogether.

Teaching in an atmosphere inspiring passion and creativity together with controlled imprinting of hundreds of movements is essential so that this influence doesn't have the negative effect of overriding or impeding the free flow of artistic expression which is nuanced with endless subtle variations of learned movements and expressed feelings. The response must be the moment-to-moment changes to music and surroundings. To avoid mediocrity my aspiring BellyDancers must master the art of fluid improvisation against a backdrop of controlled imprinting bringing 'the authentic BellyDancer' to life. The key to this is to be guided by feeling rather than thought so that movements are overlaid by emotion. This develops sensitivity to the higher emotions and assists in activating the creative right hand brain.

"Melting, blending, merging she unfolds her magic, her spirit soars unleashing the powerful presence of her being uniting the energy of all around".   This is the art and soul of BellyDance.

The Goddess Lives
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