I was dumbfounded one morning when my boss made that scathing statement while we were discussing how we spend our weekends pursuing our passions. He further went on to share some unsolicited advice on how I should “Do it only infront of my husband or boyfriend.”
I was infuriated by this crude ridicule of the integrity of the art I love and my soul felt agitated. I would have made a snide remark about his caveman mindedness if, at that instant, the demure girl in me wasn’t forced to reconsider the choice made a year back.
I reminisced. I had, with great enthusiasm, consciously chosen to learn belly dancing as a way to explore and express my femininity. Initially I was skeptical about participating in an experience that is assumed to be sexually exploitative but was immediately struck with contradiction. For the first time I appreciated my body for what it was able to accomplish physically and aesthetically.
It felt so good. The doubt transpired. It transfigured into an urge to spread awareness about the art form and address the stigma attached to it.
‘Belly Dance’ is a popular improvised version of Raqs Sharqi, a dance form originated in the Middle East that involves undulating and serpentine movements of the torso. Highly recognized by the image of a voluptuous woman in a sequined costume and bare midriff performing such movements.
It originated as an art form passed on from a mother to her daughter to prepare the womb for child birth and was often performed at social gatherings.
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