I started studying oriental dance in 1990. It's a bit of a funny story. I had just completed my Master's Degree and had always wanted to learn how to bellydance. But when the first class came around, I was a little hesitant having been known at university as an ardent feminist.
I took the class with great trepidation, intending just to 'try' one and perhaps not return. But I got such a good work-out from it and enjoyed it so much that there was no good reason to stop.
And of course, the first part of feminist is feminine! I really believe that we eradicate some of our own power by trying to deny our feminity. And let's not forget that at the core of belly-dance is absolute control over the entire body.
With oriental bellydance, a woman conveys personal power, strength and softness. Of course, there is also the art of presenting the dance in a way that is sensual without compromising a woman's integrity.
I teach now and in my classes, I aim to create a space for women to reclaim their strength, softness, sensuality and personal power.
In mastering the dance, you learn about the culture that you're representing and so my facination with the Middle-East developed. As a Senior Consultant in International Development and in my personal trips, I had travelled to many places, but not the Middle East.
With this background, you can see why travel to Egypt was so exciting. I would finally visit the land that is considered to be the origin of the dance. I wanted to see the various folkloric dances I had seen over the years in their specific regions in Egypt. I used to imagine being at the costuming houses and choosing from the huge array of costumes available. I wanted to chase after music in the different regions and buy various props that are difficult to find in Canada.
I remember years ago, a teacher conveying that the sweetness and generosity of the culture a bellydancer represented should permeate her movements. Now after visiting, I understand even more.
If you'd like to learn more about my dance background, please check my dance site: www.mayanaim.com/bio.htm