Even if we have terrible memories (like I do:), most of us will remember in vivid detail our first belly dance class. In my effort to share the inspiring stories of other dancers in the belly dance community, this week I asked a dancer friend of mine, David of Scandinavia, to share with us what he remembers about his first belly dance class. David is an incredible dancer and instructor who lives in San Diego and tours the world giving performances and workshops. He’s also a fabulous person and I am so happy to be able to share his story with you. You can find out more about him at www.davidofscandinavia.com.
All of our stories are so important and so uniquely a part of our personal journey and experience. Our stories are as individual and different as we are, and they are deeply meaningful. Please share your story in the comment below or email me-I would love to hear it!
Q: What do you remember about your first belly dance class?
I have had “first” class experiences with every teacher I have taken from of course, but I have had a two distinct first class experiences that I have to consider actual first meets with Belly Dance in two different ways.
I had danced North Indian folk dances since age 4, but I started belly dancing with Safa in Norway when I was 19. It was a pre-arranged private lesson and I remember taking the train from my hometown to Kongsberg feeling extremely excited, nervous, shy, anticipating, any emotion you can think of. Safa taught classes for hobby dancers. She started out with telling me a bit about the dance and showing videos of dancers while sharing their relevance and importance in the dance. I remember some of the dancers on the videos being Jamila Salimpour and Bal Anat, Suhaila Salimpour, and Horacio and Beata Cifuentes. This lecture section was followed by Safa introducing me to finger cymbals and movement. I clearly recall being completely overwhelmed by all of it thinking “I better practice a lot by next class, this is hard!”. Yet, I enjoyed the dance a lot and continued classes.
My second “first” class experience in Belly dance was with my second teacher, Lee Figenschow – a well established authority within the Norwegian Middle Eastern dance community. I had met Lee before and I remember being in awe/fear of her. Lee is an amazing dancer/teacher/choreographer, and obviously disciplined, trained, educated, with clear intentions, visions and purpose in her dance works. Her presence definitely intimiated me. During my first class – also a private lesson – with Lee I remember my hands and voice feeling like they just wouldn’t stop shaking. She examined the strength of my body, asked about my intentions in the dance and had me move while she analyzed my needs. I remember feeling down about my abilities and how little I knew about the dance, yet a mix of excitement to learn more with a humlity/intimidation of the intensity of the work ahead when I left the class. I almost think of my first private lesson with Lee as an intake to a mentorship, actually.
Thanks David for the honest and inspiring story!