First published in Misha’s Musings Newsletter, July 2016
I’ve been teaching dance for a while now (cough cough over 10 years) and I’ve noticed a few things. One, all of us have our “thing.” For some it’s the ability to flow with grace and beauty while executing slow oeey gooey moves. For others they shake it up and can make percussive movements look amazingly sharp and punctuated. Whatever your “thing” is trust me, you DO have something that is a bellydance gift that is all your own. And that is something exciting to celebrate!
But what about the things that don’t come easily and naturally to us? What about those moves that are tough, the ones we resist, the ones we sigh whenever a fellow dancer pulls them out to use in the circle? I’ve had those same exact feelings and moments too during my journey and it can be difficult to embrace those “sticky spots.” But it’s important to learn to love each movement and discover just how great each one feels in your body, even if you can’t find that element right away.
One of my toughest moves was the Circle Walk, a Level 2 movement. It actually caused me a lot of anxiety and even fear because it just felt weird in my body and I was so worried I’d do it wrong. How to overcome those feelings? Sometimes you just have to dive right in to that sticky spot! If our favorite moves are the “sweet spot” then the ones that give us trouble are the sticky ones. Look for the places in the movement that challenge you and practice just that part. For the Circle Walk, I had trouble with the foot placement and the weight shift. I also kept wanting to reverse the hip motion. So first I practiced just the feet. Mindfully slowly and carefully, I repeated just the feet which is the very first part of the movement. Then, when that seemed manageable, I added on the hips. Sometimes I’d get it wrong and when I did I simply started over. But it was amazing how quickly the neural pathways formed and how soon the movement got unstuck. Once these two elements felt good in my body, I worked on the complete movement. Today it’s one of my favorite unusual slow to medium moves! These days I love to feel my hips swing around, the pull of my leg in to start my Takseem, and the flow of my Snake Arms with it. I feel feminine and grounded and so juicy with it. Gone are my anxieties and fear!
Working through the sticky spots takes courage and patience. Carefully breaking down a movement to find out which particular element is sticky requires time, but once you find that spot it can be practiced like any other dance component. Diving in to your sticky spots can lead to discovery too as you find different elements of each movement that you love, integrating them into your wider dance practice. It’s a challenge but that in itself is part of the fun. So go out there and conquer your sticky spots and tell me about it! I’d love to hear about your successes!