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Natural Awakenings New York City

Empowerment through Movement

Sep 09, 2019 10:02PM ● By Michael Lehrman
By Celeste DeCamps

I was a professional belly dancer for many years. As much fun as dancing was for me, my real joy came from teaching other women to dance. It was rewarding to see the transformation when they let the music take over their bodies. 

When I started teaching, I thought I was helping women understand how to perform this Middle Eastern style of dance. After a few classes, however, I realized that the women didn’t necessarily want to learn how to belly dance as much as they wanted to regain their femininity. They’d forgotten what it felt like to be sexy. They were 
busy being daughters, wives, mothers and employees. They wanted to feel like women again. 

The students would look at my hip movements and decide that their hips did not move. Then the dance lesson turned into a kind of therapy session. I explained that belly dancing is the oldest dance form in history. Yes, there are techniques that can be learned through practice, but the core movements are based on women’s natural abilities to move.   

I reminded the women that when they were little girls, they danced. There was no judgment then, and there wasn’t any judgment now. Little by little, the mental blocks started moving away. My students began to understand how easily their bodies flowed through the exercise when they relaxed and stopped worrying about being perfect. Suddenly, they were dancing and laughing. They told me later that they were surprised at how good they felt. The awkwardness had disappeared and been replaced with newfound confidence.   

Women come in many different shapes and sizes—that’s why belly dancing looks different on different women. There’s no wrong way to dance. I find that dancing is the quickest way to connect ourselves with our bodies. Moving slowly and gracefully with the music is like its own meditation. Our bodies tell our minds that we are beautiful and fun. I tell women to put on music that makes them feel happy. You can’t feel bad or sad when you’re dancing. 

I’ve been backstage at belly dance conventions, waiting for my turn to dance, when other dancers in line asked me, “How do I look?” “Is my hair alright?” “How’s my makeup?” “I’m trying to lose weight—does my costume look tight?” Then the moment they got on stage, a wonderful thing happened: They were smiling and looking confident, and they were perfect. All their insecurities disappeared. I wanted to tell them, “Hold on to that feeling, and don’t let it go.” 

We all possess the ability to feel positive about ourselves. It may take practice, but it’s worth it. 

My belief is that any style of dance lifts your mood, gives you positive energy and makes you feel good about yourself. So now it’s your turn. Put on some music, and get up and dance!

Celeste DeCamps is a motivational speaker. She shares a lifetime experience of stage- dance and movement through stories and audience interaction. For more information, visit CelesteDecamps.com
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