Sunday, October 14, 2007

Breakin' Boards for Belly Dance?

Okay, so I have to first apologize for the length of time between my last post and this one. It's not that I don't have things to write about (I actually have a lovely list of topics); it's that I probably have too many things to write about, and haven’t spent the time to sit and write. I do promise to catch everyone up, and share all sorts of belly dance goodies; however, for this post...we're going to take a little detour. Now, you may be wondering what boards and belly dance have to do with each other, but sit tight and I'll explain.

You see, last week I broke a board with my bare hand for the second time in my life (and no, I don't have a problem with anger management). The first time was a terrifying, overwhelming experience laced with the very real fear (in my mind at least) of breaking my hand. I consider myself to be fairly tough, but let's be realistic...compare your hand with all its little bones to a very solid looking 3/4" pine board, and you'll understand my trepidation. (As a side note, Sherry, the Engineer in our troupe told me afterwards that the bending strength of that board was between 900 and 1500 pounds per square inch, yikes!)

It actually took me several tries and lots of reassurance to crack that puppy, but I did it for the first time last December and the photo is my memento of the event. In fact, I still have a hard time believing I actually did it! I broke that board, not because I was testing for some martial arts belt exam or even just trying to show off my fabulous punches (which by the way, are much less girly than they used to be). The whole board breaking process was an exercise in understanding how our mind creates obstacles, and if we can trust our bodies to be in proper alignment, grounded and centered than one punch is all it takes to split that board.

Now, I don't encourage anyone to actually attempt this without proper supervision and training (hint...use a really well trained martial arts instructor) but there are some great lessons to learn that do apply to belly dance.

Both dancing and martial arts require you to be grounded, centered, aligned, relaxed and resilient. If you’re lucky you have the experience of feeling totally alive and connected with your body and your surroundings while dancing or moving through a form. It’s when the music resonates within your body, your movements and motions are simply the expression of those beats and that energy, and you just surrender to the moment and dance. The audience and the stage simply melt away, there are no distractions or hesitations, and you feel 100% present to the moment.

Martial arts’ training focuses on being present to the sensations of your body, and connecting. In dancing we often spend a great deal of time focusing on technique or movement or speed, but sometimes we forget about the intention, the feeling, the movement and the utter joy. When I learned that I would have to break another board last week, there was no anxiety, fear or trepidation. Just like the familiar feeling when the music and your movements melt together, the notion of slamming my palm into the board seemed very matter of fact (although I still needed expert supervision).

And the lesson learned? For me, it is practicing the basics, your fundamentals, the core of your movement whether it is dance or martial arts. Beyond that practice, you have to let go, surrender, release, and trust. So, I encourage all of you who dance (or those who just watch) to allow yourselves to be present to the moment, let go of fears and anxieties, relax, connect and above all else…breathe.

By the way, if you want to see more martial arts and belly dance, come watch our show this Thursday. We have live music with Sonya and Belaharr, lot's of fabulous dancing, and I'll be trying to practice what I'm preaching here (wish me luck!)