“Sexy people never rush.”
I heard this little adage today on the beautiful Dahlal model Samira’s Facebook, and couldn’t help but to expand on it.
Let’s put aside the stereotypes and tell it like it is. Belly dance is an incredibly sexy dance form. At least, I think it is, and I doubt it would have such a powerful cross-cultural reach if it lacked true sensuality.
But what makes belly dance sexy? After all, one can certainly argue that we cover a lot more flesh than ballroom dancers, Vegas showgirls, Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, Victoria’s Secret models and other mainstream female figures. You also see raunchier moves in most high school cheerleading and drill team competitions. That being said, I think there’s a lot to be said for sex appeal of the more languid, mysterious and understated variety. Belly dancers, as a whole, represent a trifecta of irresistible traits: confidence, style and sensuality.
By definition, sensuality has little to do with the erotic, and everything to do with how you experience your surroundings. A truly great Middle Eastern dance artist shares a beautiful, holistic relationship with her inner self, her outer self, her music, her venue and her audience. When I dance, I try to weave all of these entities together to become one piece of transient living art. While I’m still learning and growing as a dancer, I’d like to think that the one thing I’ve taken from my recent studies has been the importance of connectedness and enjoying the moment. It’s really quite “Zen” when you think about it!
Circling back to Samira’s great aunt’s saying, a dancer who’s always in a hurry or is overly obsessed with her own mechanical technique will ultimately struggle to convey this blissful beauty to her audiences. We’ve all seen performances where a dancer’s technical execution is flawless, yet the musicality, sensuality and charisma are not quite there. Compelling dancers, on the other hand, know how to surrender. While good technique only gives us a greater toolbox to work with, it is also true that the music, your audiences and your own “female intuition” can guide you in ways that choreography, counting and textbook knowledge will not.
It all reminds me of Coco Chanel’s saying, “Always take one thing off.” Just as overaccessorizing can detract from your beautiful clothes, overemphasizing can kill your dance. It’s not always about hitting EVERY accent (that’s what a drum solo is for!), but about hitting the best ones. It’s not about showing off all your tricks during your entrance, but about taking a moment to proudly stride through your performance space and give everyone a moment to take in your beauty. Even pausing and posing can be twice as dynamic as a big movement, if you do it at the right time. And for the love of all things sparkly, when you’re dancing with props, don’t forget to dance!
Achieving classy sensuality is one of the most challenging yet rewarding pursuits in this great dance. What’s your favorite way to stop, simplify and smell the roses?