A Blossoming Dream: One Student’s Story

A Blossoming Dream: One Student’s Story
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A Blossoming Dream: One Student’s Story by Safira, Guest Blogger

Let’s start with introductions. My name is Safira (at least, that is my stage name), and I am a beginning belly dancer, studying under Mellilah Jamal.

It occurs to me that I should probably begin a blog post about ‘being a student belly dancer’ with a sentence like, “I never in a million years thought I would be learning belly dance”, or something similar.  But that wouldn’t be entirely the truth.  It does ring true that I am delighted to be where I am in my belly dance evolution (which, as a beginner, isn’t really all that far) but I can’t claim total astonishment.

belly dancer Safira

Let me explain.

You see, I have always been a little bit fascinated with belly dance. It has always hovered on the edges of my peripheral vision; a mysterious and exotic mirage that I’d always secretly dreamt of and never actually done anything about.  The appeal was a heady mix; fluid, beautiful movement with its historic roots grounded in Egyptian folklore (of which I was to learn more, over time), dazzling costumes of every style and color, and a certain je ne sais quoi about the dancers themselves – something in the way they carried themselves, in their sensuality and the way the dance grounded itself in the earth that had always been secretly alluring.

So when I found myself signing up for Mellilah’s Traditional Egyptian Belly Dance beginner class, it wasn’t entirely unexpected.  I had finally committed to investigating a little more of what belly dance actually was, and so I jumped right in.  At that point I knew next to nothing about the dance itself, but I figured that a good place to start would be to bite the bullet and find out whether or not I actually enjoyed doing it.

What I felt by the end of my first class was nothing short of total elation.  I was simultaneously relaxed and energized, it felt new and fresh and yet strangely familiar (as if admiring belly dancers from a afar for so many years had somehow ingrained the dance into my psyche somewhere), and above all I was excited.  I was giddy with excitement.  I realize now that a big part of that initial buzz had come from Mellilah’s talent as a teacher; while the dancing was exhilarating, and while I hadn’t been quite as terrible at it as I’d first anticipated, it was Mellilah that had really made me feel like I somehow belonged there. She has an energy that is completely contagious, and her positivity in that very first class (no matter what your skill level) helps overcome any self-consciousness or trepidation that you might have. Mellilah has a way of making you feel instantly comfortable (definitely an accomplishment when faced with a room full of total beginners) – but that’s just her.  No matter what your skill level, no matter what your reason for being there, she has a way of making sure that you leave in a better state than you arrived – be it your technique, your knowledge, your mood.  She inspires and emboldens, rather than criticizes.  Or at least, if she gives you pointers, you don’t feel criticized.  You feel encouraged.  You feel like you’ve been given permission to thrive.

I’ve come a long way since I began this journey.  I take as many classes as I possibly can.  I dance in the troupe.  I just performed my first solo.  We all, all of Mellilah’s students, work hard, feel elation, frustration, and put in hours of practice, but I think I speak for all of us when I say that we do it willingly.   I certainly do.  No resentment towards all the effort – I give it willingly.  I give it gratefully.  That is wholly to Mellilah’s credit.

And that is really why I share my experience.  Not because I’m the best example, and not because I have the most note-worthy story, but because I feel that fact alone is something that needs to be shared.  My initial dream of belly dance didn’t die at that first class – it blossomed.  Becoming a belly dancer didn’t seem an unreachable goal, the fantasy didn’t wilt under Mellilah’s instruction and guidance; it was allowed to thrive.  And that is something pretty wonderful, don’t you think?

Safira belly dancerSafira is a guest blogger for Everything Belly Dance blog. She resides in the Greater Seattle area and is now in two belly dance troupes.

Did you enjoy this article? You might also like “Why I Dance: a student’s perspective.”

Published on June 03, 2014

Article published May 27th, 2014.

About Mellilah Jamal

Mellilah teaches belly dance classes in Redmond and Bothell and performs for private parties and restaurants throughout Seattle.

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