This life we's strange, painful at times, but oh so beautiful.

I am a fusion dance artist and teacher, a fire dancer, and a visual artist. I draw inspiration from nature, music, and the amazing people that come into my life. I am also a conservationist who makes jewelry and found object multimedia craft type art in my spare time (when I'm not reading, writing, or lighting things on fire and dancing around with them). I love to dance barefoot on the beach, watch the stars move inexorably across the heavens, and to laugh with the people that I love. I am currently based in Greenville SC, working with Discordia Arts to provide unique and exciting entertainment to the Upstate.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

My Bellydance Story

Performing with Troupe Sulukule 2006
There has been a lot of reflection going around lately, and I have been contemplating what roll dance has played, and will continue to play, in my life.

It's a long story....Let's start in late elementary - middle school and early high school

I was not comfortable with myself for a very long time as I was growing up. It's not a sob parents are both amazingly supportive and loving individuals, and I had great friends...but rather an unpleasantly common story of growing up as a woman in our culture.

I was slightly chubby. (or, at least I thought I was)

I was painfully shy (still am, actually)...and my mother told me that my shyness made people think I was stuck up (which was probably correct), and this caused me to withdraw even more.

Triboriginal Pre-performance 2006
I was uncomfortable with girls my age, and I was picked on  because I was smart and cared about how well I did in school. I loved to learn, but hadn't yet learned to love myself.

I looked at magazines filled with young women who were impossibly beautiful, and didn't understand why I couldn't look like that, no matter how much I starved myself.

So, clumsy, shy, quiet, and depressed, I continued to grow and try my best to find a place for myself. In high school, I started my first long term was not good, and for three years I struggled with self image, depression, self harm, and an emotionally abusive boyfriend.
Me: Opening for Raquy 2009

I went to college, and things started to change. I became more comfortable with who I was. I fell in love for the first time, and got engaged. I made friends who would become lifelong companions, and I did well in school...but I was still quietly unhappy whenever I was alone. Though I was by no means overweight or disfigured, I still saw an ugly woman when I looked in the mirror.

In 2002, one year before I graduated college, my fiance and I broke up.....and I broke.

Solo Performance 2010
It was a dark time for me. In outward appearance, things were fine, but inside, I was heart broken, lost, depressed, confused, and quietly miserable.

A friend of mine convinced me to try a belly dance class with her.

I went. I had always been curious about belly dance, and I'd never done anything quite like it. I needed to do something that was for me, and it seemed like a good place to start.

Jaidra and Brandy with Wasted Wine 2011

My teacher was twice my size...and the control that she had over her body, the way her face lit up when she danced, the impressive movement of her hips...was mesmerizing.

There was a 70 something year old grandmother in the class, wrinkled and white haired, and she was so beautiful, confident, and healthy. Watching her dance made me realize that I could do this.

All ages, all shapes and sizes, all colors of skin...and the moves looked different on everyone, but they were all beautiful.

I found that when I was concentrating on making my hips move up and down in time to the beat, or circling my chest while holding the rest of my body still, that the concerns and the darkness in my mind retreated.

I grew stronger, developed more muscle control, and as I practiced, the moves and isolations that had seemed so difficult began to take shape in my own body.

And, then I moved away...and moved again.

With my students 2011..It's now my  joy to share what I love
In 2006, I moved to Athens, GA. I was in another difficult place, and I had stepped away from bellydance over a period of about a year. The boy that I was dating was bad for me, and I knew it. I knew I needed to find my way I looked for a bellydance class. I found Christy Fricks, someone who was to later become an incredible influence in my life, as a teacher, mentor, and friend. She welcomed me in to her beginner and intermediate class, and when she founded her troupe, she included me. My first public performance occurred that year, and as a member of Troupe Sulukule, I began to find my voice as a dancer, surrounded by strong women, and to explore the dance community and all that it had to offer.

Me with Evelyn and Brandy 2013
My story continues in this vein. Sometimes I lose my way. Sometimes things get dark, and I make mistakes, or mistakes find me...sometimes, life just hurts, and I look in the mirror and wonder who I am. Dance helps. I find myself when I dance. I am able to accept my flaws, enjoy my abilities, and push myself to become "more" while being OK with where I am now.

Belly dance has changed my life. 

I have met so many amazing women (and men) through dance...I have seen people overcome so much. Loss, major health problems, chronic diseases, depression, divorce, self image and self esteem story isn't unique. Belly dance heals. It heals me over and over again, every day.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

I am a bellydancer

I dance because I have found myself in the movement.
I dance to express joy and share passion or sorrow.
I dance to push myself beyond the boundaries of what I ever thought I could do.
I dance empowered as a woman, to love who I am.
I dance with sisters, and with friends.
I dance because to dance is to become one with the universe.
To dance is to be whole.
Brandy and Jaidra of Discordia Arts with Fire Fans
To dance is to dream.