TIPS FOR GUYS WHO WANT TO BELLYDANCE (AND GALS, TOO)
3. Don’t be afraid to be a beginner
Recently Cecilia and I had a blast taking a Jazz Funk class from Shannon Keightley at Fuse Dance Collaboration, LLC. www.fusedancecollaboration.com It was fun and challenging. Shannon has a great energy and shares her joy for dance enthusiastically, but keeping up with her was a little more than I could handle. Raqs Sharki (belly dance) has such a different energy than Jazz Funk, I was having trouble getting my body to do what I was asking it to. Which brings up another benefit of taking this class – it’s always helpful to remember how hard it is to take your first dance class, especially if you are a guy who didn’t grow up dancing.
If you’ve seen me perform you might find it hard to believe how tripping over myself bad I was in class. It didn’t help that there was a ten year old girl making it all look easy. It’s not easy being the only guy in class, but then to dance so embarrassingly bad? Well, everybody has to live through being bad, right? It’s just part of the road to being good at something.
But there is something even more daunting about dancing as a man in America. Yes, there are some extremely masculine forms of dance in America, break dancing comes to mind, but probably not something you are going to pick up in your 40s. (Did I mention I was 37 when I finally got the nerve to learn how to dance?) In Boise, ID, male dancers in any dance form are rare, and I believe that it is mostly because dancing isn’t considered manly, which is a shame because it keeps you in phenomenal shape. I was working in a warehouse when I started dancing and like most work places, most of my co-workers had no idea what I did outside of work (even when I wore T-shirts declaring what I did), but the few that did know were split between co-workers (men and women) who made fun of me and co-workers (men and women) who wondered if it was the dancing that made me so strong and healthy. There was one co-worker who nick-named me “tiny dancer” while her friend tried to talk her into taking class from me, sure that belly-dancing would improve her health.
I think I covered this in another blog – but being laughed at isn’t as bad as it sounds. In some ways it actually sets you free. We can’t help but be influenced by what people think about us, but the more you can set yourself free from other people’s expectations the easier it is to find joy in what you are doing.
So give up all those ridiculous excuses like “I’m just not creative” or “I have two left feet” or “I don’t know how to draw”. We are ALL creative and, although it comes naturally to kids, most adults need to learn how to express that creativity. Don’t be discouraged just because it doesn’t come naturally to you. Dive in and try something you love because you love it NOT because you are good at it. I guarantee it will be worth the effort.