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  1. #11
    Member Emma_Williams's Avatar
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    I did not ever intend on belly dancing sorting my head out as I have always danced and i simply wanted to dance again. However, since belly dancing I have become calmer, more of a decent person as I now dont have as many hang ups with women as i used to. I have always be a ladette in many ways (not the arse showing, burping type i may add) and i had zero body confidence. Now I find myself in situations with only women of all shapes and sizes who are getting up there and dancing beautifully and everyone accepts each other. I now take this into my every day life. I am more happy and body confident and my husband loves it that I have such passion for an art.
    Bellydance has changed my life...sappy i know but its true.

  2. #12
    V.I.P. Maria_Aya's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shiradotnet View Post
    But it troubles me when I see belly dance teachers marketing their classes with promises that it will deliver the above benefits. I think teachers should provide an emotionally-safe instructional environment, but should focus their classroom language on dance instruction, and leave the "empowerment" speech at home. Let the students decide for themselves where the dance fits with the rest of their psyche.

    What do others think?
    I agree !!!

  3. #13
    V.I.P. Aziyade's Avatar
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    There's belly dance in the DANCE setting and belly dance in the CLINICAL setting.

    I HATED belly dance DANCE classes that were organized as some kind of wymmin's therapy, or promoted as releasing your inner goddess. I just wanted to learn to dance, and I don't need to "get in touch with myself" or my inner anything. I found classes that revolved around this psychology VERY annoying.

    BUT, now that I'm working on a class for cancer patients, I'm seeing how belly dance is much more appealing an activity than ballet or maybe even yoga. I'm stressing the point that this class is more about feeling good than really drilling technique, as the ladies who were in my test-market class seemed to prefer that. Using dance as part of the healing process (physically or psychologically) is a WONDERFUL idea, but I think that needs to be kept as a separate concept, and out of the regular "dance" class. Just my $.02.

  4. #14
    Senior Member maria_harlequin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by adiemus View Post
    I think this might be some of the baggage from the 1970's - 'women for women' as well as
    - that many classes are full of women
    - that for many women, the fact you can be curvaceous and still dance is the first time they've been able to accept their body as it is
    - many women are older than those who go to hiphop or ballet, and maybe have 'issues' to deal with, or are moving through 'healing' or growth just as part of life
    - some of the myths about 'earth mother' and 'fertility' makes the whole idea of bellydance appealing for women to claim it also as a 'healing' space
    Very good points - I can't believe I didn't think about that! D'oh!

  5. #15
    Premium Member Aniseteph's Avatar
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    I want to learn to dance; all the psychological benefits are a very nice side effect!
    Quote Originally Posted by Shira
    Let the students decide for themselves where the dance fits with the rest of their psyche.

    Quote Originally Posted by Aziyade
    Using dance as part of the healing process (physically or psychologically) is a WONDERFUL idea, but I think that needs to be kept as a separate concept, and out of the regular "dance" class.
    Yes. And by a teacher who knows the difference and doesn't put misleading labels on things.

    I don't like belly dance being sold primarily as a path to healing/ enlightenment/ empowerment etc. I'm not keen on a lot of things that are sold that way actually, but when they bring some sort of "belly dance" into it...

  6. #16
    V.I.P. Aziyade's Avatar
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    nothing -- keep going!

  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by shiradotnet View Post
    It seems like there are a lot of people drawn to belly dance wanting to use it as a sort of "therapy" to work through their psychological issues.

    Some women see belly dancing as a tool for helping them come to terms with their insecurities about their appearance and sexiness.

    Some see it as helping them heal from sexual abuse that occurred in their past.

    Some see it as reawakening their creativity which has been trampled by their jobs, their family situations, etc.

    Some find it empowering, particularly if their lives make them feel powerless in other ways.

    Some are needy about wanting to be the center of attention, and find belly dance attractive because it's commonly presented as a solo dance.

    And there are many other ways in which people find that it helps...



    I think it's great that belly dance can play an important role in people's lives such as the above examples.

    But it troubles me when I see belly dance teachers marketing their classes with promises that it will deliver the above benefits. I think teachers should provide an emotionally-safe instructional environment, but should focus their classroom language on dance instruction, and leave the "empowerment" speech at home. Let the students decide for themselves where the dance fits with the rest of their psyche.

    What do others think?

    Have you had teachers who did try to treat their classes as group therapy? If so, what did they do, and how did you feel about it?
    Any new hobby, skill, activity, can be stimulating in many ways--mentally, physically, psychologically, spiritually. But I agree with many others here that the best approach to an art form is to study it AS an art form, and whatever other benefits follow depend on the person.

    I am not quite sure why this dance in particular seems to draw people for psychological-therapeutic reasons, though I think some of the "halfway" status issues we have discussed on other threads might have something to do with it. Raks doesn't have the whole institutionalized system that ballet does. It has the "sexy" thing associated with it.

    But I do know what you are talking about, Shira. Luckily I've never had a teacher like this, but I know there are teachers out there who actually push this on students who aren't looking for therapy. I heard about one new student, in her late 50s, who was recovering from surgery, who was looking to lose weight with low-stress exercise. This teacher was convinced the student "really" wanted to dress up, look pretty, forget her troubles and lose herself in girlish fantasy or some such, but couldn't admit it.

    So I have to conclude that some teachers actually use this dance and/or their students to get their therapy-type needs met! Maybe they were also students of the same bent in their day.

    I was going to go into why more narcissists find their place in the spotlight in this dance form than other performing arts, but it sounded harsh so I'll stop now.
    Last edited by cathy; 09-05-2009 at 01:08 AM.

  8. #18
    V.I.P. lizaj's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cathy View Post
    Any new hobby, skill, activity, can be stimulating in many ways--mentally, physically, psychologically, spiritually. But I agree with many others here that the best approach to an art form is to study it AS an art form, and whatever other benefits follow depend on the person.

    I am not quite sure why this dance in particular seems to draw people for psychological-therapeutic reasons, though I think some of the "halfway" status issues we have discussed on other threads might have something to do with it. Raks doesn't have the whole institutionalized system that ballet does. It has the "sexy" thing associated with it.

    But I do know what you are talking about, Shira. Luckily I've never had a teacher like this, but I know there are teachers out there who actually push this on students who aren't looking for therapy. I heard about one new student, in her late 50s, who was recovering from surgery, who was looking to lose weight with low-stress exercise. This teacher was convinced the student "really" wanted to dress up, look pretty, forget her troubles and lose herself in girlish fantasy or some such, but couldn't admit it.

    So I have to conclude that some teachers actually use this dance and/or their students to get their therapy-type needs met! Maybe they were also students of the same bent in their day.

    I was going to go into why more narcissists find their place in the spotlight in this dance form than other performing arts, but it sounded harsh so I'll stop now.
    I could of course link this up with that dreadful (but very rib-tickling) book i just bought.
    Yes I agree dance of all kinds, exercise of all kinds can be rewarding,liberating,inspiring as well as having health benefits but that dreadful tome I kept thinking..this woman has purloined ME as some sort of crazy sex therapy.
    Too many women use belly dance to get back into the dressing-up box. There's nothing wrong in dressing up appropriately when peforming or to show off your moves in class but it's the propensity to slide in pantomine that degrades the dance also. Too many dancers will turn up dressed in chiffon sequins at the opening of an envelope and present a comic image to the media.
    I suppose the leggings T shirt clad exerciser at least presents a less offensive picture. But it can still be making use of this facet of another culture without nodding alleigence .

  9. #19
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    Default As compared to say, Flamenco

    I was wondering about whether any of the same phenomenon is seen in other dance forms studied outside their own culture today. I have never taken Flamenco classes, or visited Flamenco web chat groups, but I've been to several professional Flamenco performances and it strikes me as very powerful and often very hot (as in sexy) in a powerful way (as compared to in a debased way). And yet, I suspect there aren't as many "self help" types drawn to studying it, or bizarre myths (goddess--childbirth ritual--harem enticement etc) associated with Flamenco, as compared to Raks.

    I am tempted to speculate that this has to do with the greater degree to which colonizers looked down upon and tried to reformulate ME culture(s) according to their own preferences, as compared to Andalusian Spanish culture (assuming I have it right that this is where Flamenco originated)

    Or possibly because the study of Flamenco has grown in another way. More rigorous? More tied to the originating culture? Not sure. But I doubt there are any Flamenco students who don't know what culture it comes from (unlike BD)

    Anyone out there who has also studied Flamenco and can comment here? If my theory is correct, Why is this?

  10. #20
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    Default Yoga

    Yoga is a discipline that teachers present, and students seek out, for many many different reasons (at least in the West, in my experience). I took classes in Hatha and Iyengar yoga on and off for about 14 years before I started MED classes. Even within the Iyengar tradition, in which all instructors (at that time anyway) were certified by Iyengar himself, there were differences in the amount of spiritual/ psychological/ meditative instruction or commentary that I experienced in different classes, and Iyengar was one of the more "it's all about the asanas" physical traditions--no music, no chanting, no incense, just intense concentration on the poses. But I knew about other yoga teachers who were much more heavily into the psychological aspects, energy flow, chakras, and so on. Some who would encourage students to think about certain poses unlocking certain emotions, helping them come to terms with their unresolved feelings from the past, and so forth.

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