But my friend knew a place where we could take belly dance lessons. I’d seen belly dancers in my hometown of St. Louis before, and I was intrigued by them. The dance they did looked feminine and graceful, but they were strong, terrifically strong.
I still wasn’t prepared for my first class, though. The warm-up alone was grueling, drawing on muscles I’d never used. Before drills even started, my endurance reserves were tapped. The music was unlike anything I’d ever heard before and my first ever lesson was on three-quarters on the down, which even experienced belly dancers will tell you can be tough. (I still struggle with it today.) My face was crimson. I was sweating buckets. I loved it.
I’ve been belly dancing for ten years, and in those ten years I have seen dance effect a profound change on my life. I’ve done things that I didn’t think it was possible for me to do. I’ve pushed my body to—and past—limits that I thought would always hem me in. I can move in the beautiful, passionate way in which I’d always dreamed—and when I can’t, I’m only inspired to do better, knowing that I have it in me to be the dancer I want to be. Dance has brought me freedom and joy in a way I didn’t anticipate—and even better, it’s brought me to a community where I can share those feelings.
I’m so grateful for how dance, and how Moon Belly, has helped me build the life I want. Sometimes, I look back at the person I was, and I’m astounded by how far I’ve come, and how much I look forward to what the future holds.