Belly dance changed the way I viewed education. Before dancing, learning was a bookish affair--all words and little action. I loved it, but I felt unsatisfied and, after my MA in English, depressed and burnt out with the educational process.
Then I began belly dancing. I expected it to be more on the luxurious, sensual side...and it was. But I was blessed enough to be paired with an instructor passionate about history, culture, art, music and how it all intertwines and meets in a community's dance.
This made perfect sense. My teacher was a hula dancer trained in a Hawaiian halau, and she understood intimately the connection between dance and life and taught us to be sensitive to culture mores while exploring our ability to create.
Learning became less passive and more active because it was interactive. It connected to my heart as well as my mind because it involved my body.
Since then, I've learned that for me to really understand a thing, I need to DO it.
And, for me, to understand a culture, I take up its dance forms as a beginning point.
I'm currently pursuing Bharatanatyam, an undertaking that I might have shied from had I realized the depths in the form (much like my nose-piercing: had I known the pain, I would have run away, but on the other side, I'm grateful for the sparkle it has added to life).
In the following blog posts, I'll be exploring more deeply dances, my learning, and my enduring fascination with sign language and dance.
I'll also be writing a little about my interest in religion and dance. I'm a Christian with a background in the independent fundamentalist Baptist movement that's (I guess) disappearing from the country, but its abhorrence of dance in worship seems to be widely shared with other denominations in the US. I'm incredibly intrigued by the various churches that DO include dance and with the various churches that incorporate their cultural dances into services rather than damning all dance as pagan.
I heartily and readily recognize that the dance forms I'm most interested in (Middle Eastern, Hawaiian, and Indian) are not in any way connected to my own background, and my heart is always to learn in a way that is respectful and nuanced.
Join me! And tell me how YOU learn.