Thursday, August 27, 2009

Why do you Bellydance?...Really?

Naima - pic by Treszka

As part of my stage presence class on Aug 15th, I had 30 plus dancers answer 3 questions anonymously on a notecard and we discussed the answers as a group and how they apply to a bellydancer's creativity and attitude on stage. I only used half a dozen or so of the cards for class but I kept them all so I could type them up for discussion.

The 3 questions were:
  1. Why do you Bellydance?
  2. What is your Bellydance goal(s)?
  3. What is your biggest stage fear?
I typed up the answers as they were written (spelling mistakes are probably mine though). They were asked to be as honest as possible with their answers.

Keep in mind the 3 questions as you read along

  • I bellydance because it gives me joy, connects me spiritually, and makes my body feel GREAT. It also helps me feel better about my body.
  • To create additional choreographies for teaching and performing
  • My biggest fear is to be judged negatively by my fellow dancers.
  • I bellydance to feel free and beautiful and to be creative and have fun.
  • My goal is to master all styles of bellydance, which I realize will probably not be attainable, so my realistic goal is to practice more.
  • My biggest stage fear is forgetting my choreography and just standing there like a dork.
  • I bellydance because it feels so good.
  • My bellydance goal is to spread the joy and benefits of this art form to every woman I can.
  • My greatest fear is that I will mess up horribly on stage – as in fall on my ass or off the stage!
  • Fun and socializing.
  • A solo I'm confident in.
  • Putting a lot of effort into a solo and it being really lame.
  • I bellydance because it makes me feel good about myself.
  • My goals are to sharpen my technique...and to learn to be myself on stage!
  • My fears are everything you said...pretty much the audience's perception...
  • I bellydance because it makes me feel great about myself.
  • I want to work harder on drills and isolations.
  • On stage I am afraid of missing a step and having trouble getting back into the choreo.
  • I bellydance because it's a way to express myself that I've been needing since birth.
  • My b.d. Goal is to be proficient at as many types and styles as I can.
  • My biggest stage fear is that I'll never be prepared enough.
  • I bellydance because I think it is a graceful form of dance.
  • To do the zills and to shimmy better.
  • Not to fall and freeze.
  • I bellydance because it brings me joy and brings life and color into my world.
  • My b.d. Goal is to a) develop a full Egyptian (20min) routine and b) dance w/ a shamadan.
  • My biggest fear on stage is blanking on what to do next and just standing there like a dumb ass.
  • I bellydance because...I enjoy the dance and social interaction it brings.
  • My goal for my bellydancing is to be able to perform a solo in front of an audience.
  • My fear is getting up on stage and freezing (forgetting what I am doing).
  • I bellydance because it makes me feel beautiful.
  • My goal is to one day choreograph a piece.
  • My biggest fear. I'll do a solo and totally forget parts.
  • I bellydance because I have always danced and the came into my life at the right time. Dance keeps me sane and gets me through the work week.
  • My goal bellydance wise is to get more comfortable doing solos and not getting so nervous leading a group.
  • My biggest fear is messing up/forgetting choreo, but making it obvious instead of just continuing to dance.
  • I bellydance because that's where me girlz are and they take me fun places.
  • Goals – Working on being a better costumer, personal confidence in front of strangers, muscle control.
  • Fears – forgetting choreo and embarrassing us by looking out of step.
  • I bellydance because it is a great opportunity and I love dancing.
  • My goal is to get better at bellydancing.
  • I'm afraid that I will mess up or forget the dance.
  • I bellydance for fun, exercise, and the feeling of feminine grace and power.
  • To choreograph my own solo, to dance solo, and to develop a prenatal bellydance class.
  • I am afraid of looking stiff and mechanical instead of fluid, graceful, and in the music.
  • I bellydance because of the exercise feature and to gain poise.
  • My goal is to learn to do snake arms beautifully.
  • Mt stage fear is going the wrong way or wrong arm.
  • Why? I like to bellydance because it is the one thing that I do only for myself.
  • Goals? I would like to get in better shape, develop more flexibility and grace.
  • Fear? I'm afraid my physical injuries will hinder my development as a dancer.
  • Because I love everything about it and I feel hot when I do it.
  • My goal is to dance with swords and snakes and perform.
  • Costume malfunction and freeze.
  • What's the best way to start handling a sword?
-We didn't go over each notecard in the workshop so I didn't discover the last question until a few days later. Apparently someone needed some feedback/direction for sword dancing. Check out 's sword page for info on choosing a sword, balancing, costuming, etc. Pretty much everything you need to get started.


  • I bellydance because it is freedom.
  • My bellydance goal is to get better at performance and sharpen my skills.
  • My biggest bellydance fear is that I'm not good enough.


  • I bellydance because is is good exercise.
  • My current goal in bellydance is to have a better looking stomach.
  • My biggest fear on stage is to mess up.


  • I bellydance because it makes me feel good and pretty.
  • To educate women about all kinds of bellydance.
  • To be made fun of because of my weight.


  • I bellydance because it's great exercise – strengthens the core.
  • Goal – to get better – get over clumsiness.
  • Biggest fear – audience – people watching.


  • I love how dancing makes me feel.
  • My goal is to perfect my art and strengthen my body.
  • I don't like crowds or people staring – solos scare me.


  • I bellydance because I want to feel sexier to myself.
  • My goal is to flow when I dance and become more comfortable with myself.
  • Biggest fear is not doing things right in front of others, showing my fear on my face.


  • I bellydance because it's fun.
  • My goal is to improve my technique and to learn this year.
  • My fear is I suck and no one is telling me.


  • Because it gives me a venue to express myself and it's great for toning my body.
  • To get back into classes and strengthen my core.
  • Forgetting the choreography and tripping and falling.


  • Why bellydance? I bellydance because it's fun, a good workout, it's a beautiful tradition.
  • What is bellydance goal? To actually perform one day.
  • What is biggest stage fear? Tripping, not doing well, not pretty enough, too fat, wardrobe malfunction, bad choreography.


  • I bellydance because it is fabulous fun.
  • Enjoy myself and get past stage fright. More comfortable in my own skin.
  • Looking stupid.


  • I bellydance because I have fun, feel beautiful, and make friends.
  • My goal is to learn to play zills well.
  • My worst fear is my costume falling off.


  • I bellydance because I want to loose weight.
  • What is my goal to get the movements right such as belly rolls.
  • Stage fear is I'll mess up my steps as a group.


  • I bellydance because I LOVE it, the women, the moves, the music.
  • My goal is to become more fluid and flexible.
  • My biggest fear is the I will look like a clumsy fat cow.


  • It opens my life.
  • To perform in front of an audience without being scared.
  • That my technique isn't good enough to perform yet.


  • I bellydance because it's fun and makes me feel worthy.
  • My bellydance goal is to have better “presence” and “ attitude”.
  • My biggest stage fear is that I will look foolish.


  • I bellydance for fun and exercise.
  • To become more graceful and loose weight.
  • Not good enough. Things falling out of costume.

I found the answers both exactly what I expected and surprising. I expected some answers to be similar but I was surprised that almost all 30 plus answers where almost identical. In short,

Everyone Bellydances because it is fun and makes them happy in some way.
Everyone's goals are to get better at some aspect of the dance.
No one wants to mess up and/or be judged or embarrassed.

I found the following fears the most revealing. Two people are struggling with the fact there is an audience at all.

"I don't like crowds or people staring – solos scare me."
"Biggest fear – audience – people watching."
It isn't perfectly clear if these dancers want to perform on stage or not. They certainly don't have to perform in public. It also isn't clear as to why the audience is so intimidating. But I get the sense more dancers have a general fear of the audience than one would think.

The next fear...

"My fear is I suck and no one is telling me. " one of the most true.

No one wants to walk around with their fly unzipped or toilet paper stuck to their shoe and no one tell them. It is definitely the same with the dance. No one wants to be oblivious to issues they may have performing. It is a hard thing to get someone to tell you that you have food in your teeth much less your technique needs work.

All dancers want constructive critique of their dance but teachers and fellow dancers don't want to discourage or offend their friends. And unfortunately, because of this many dancers don't get any critique at all. They may have great potential but are left in an unpolished state and stagnate there.

So I give this to you to chew on and give your input. Maybe even answer the questions yourself? (all 47 of you subscribers. The whole "Follow this blog" thing isn't accurate because it doesn't show the people who are actually subscribed to the blog feed.)


Now listening to: the menfolk doing character creation
mood: chips and rotel dip


Dina said...

ok you asked i will answer

1.) I dance because it is a part of my soul and connection to Spirit, without it I might wither away

2.) My goal is to be more proficient at tribal and to feel more comfortable with freestyle dancing..having a jazz background I am so used to be choreographed I have a hard time with this includes some more musicality work

3.) My fear like most is freezing on stage, i recently performed for the first time and I think I am over it, but the butterflies never leave you.

RetroKali said...

it is very interesting that they are all basically the same answers worded in different ways. I would answer the same. Dance because it makes me feel beautiful,Goal to master zills, and my fear is that I am not good enough. I guess this common ground can really unite us all as sisters.

Kalaneet said...

It's especially interesting to me how many people are afraid of freezing up. I'm a really new dancer and nowhere near ready to be on stage, but it makes a lot of sense. To be honest, whenever I think of going on stage the first "horror scenario" that springs to mind is my top flying off, haha. I think it's because I once talked to a musician who told me he'd seen a lot of costume malfunctions. O_O

I answered your questions on my blog here:

Brittney Laleh Banaei said...

The judgmental fear is a big one. I was amazed and relieved to see dancers with the same concern! Thank you for sharing this Naima!

1) I dance because it's the way I interpret the world around me. Things might not make sense if I couldn't 'talk it out' through movement. It has been the biggest gift and I am forever grateful.
2) My goal is to be the best artist I can be. Not necessarily the best technically, best costuming, etc. But rather to the best of my ability when I create something or step off of a stage, I know that I have shared my story to the fullest possible extent.
3) My fear is to stop growing. I never want to say 'huh...good enough' and carry on. I never want to get onstage and do the same thing over and over again. I want the stage to always be an exciting and emotional expression ground.

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