Throughout the years of teaching I have found that philosophy is the glue that holds our Four Cornerstones of belly dancing together. In class I teach my students that they must be aware of how to center themselves for their journey in our dance. I have found that when we forget who we are, the world around us affects our creativity and begins to pull us either in different directions or in a direction we didn’t intend to go. So how do we remind ourselves to stay centered? It’s a question I have thought of many times through out my travels in this dance. The best way to understand how we center ourselves is to take a look at our four corner stones and see what they each represent.
1st Cornerstone “Emotion”.
Our emotional state can fluctuate like a yo-yo. There have been many belly dance students who have walked in my studio and brought their issues and problems to the dance floor. Sometimes this will work in their favor and other times they fall apart in a middle of practice. I have seen women come to a venue carrying the weight of their emotional problems on their shoulders. The weight of the problem shows up immediately in the flow of their dance. If your emotions are tangled up than the flow of your dance becomes stagnant. On the other hand an emotionally centered belly dancer can take an issue and use the emotional intensity to her favor. If a dancer is centered than she will be able to use the force of her emotions to bring her audience to a heightened state of amazement.
2nd Cornerstone “Physical”.
There are many reasons why dancers are attracted to belly dancing. For some it is a calling that is far reaching into the soul. For others it is a way to stay in shape, have some fun and make new friends. Most women enjoy the freedom that belly dance offers them from everyday life. In our society it is unfortunate that we are told how we should look. And even though we know better, there’s that part of us that listens and believes what the magazines and mass media tells us. I will see beautiful women come to me to study dance and they all have one issue or another. How distorted our lives become depends on how distorted we see ourselves.
3rd Cornerstone is the “Spiritual”.
This is the one corner stone that just seems to clarify everything that we do in our dance. If we neglect this particular corner stone, our peace is taken away and our dance becomes empty. The depth of each dancers conviction comes from her belief system. I myself can’t do a good job of dancing if my soul is heavy with burdens. This is the one corner stone that I have found that many dancers go to when all else fails. Spirituality is the part of our dance that holds up even when the other corner stones falter. It is also the main part of our dance that makes us come alive. After all, when the choreography is done, we than breath life into our dance by celebrating life and dancing it on stage.
4th Cornerstone is the “Mental”.
I don’t know about the rest of you but there have been a few times that I felt that my mind was trying to mess me up in my dance. Sometimes it even argues with my body. The mind is very important in dance but sometimes it can make us too technical. The dancers that most capture their audiences are the ones that flow with their choreography. Our mental corner stone is needed to keep us “sane” through out the learning process. But this one can also zone out. Your right becomes your left and body parts get all mixed up. Or you get on stage and your mind leaves you literally only to come back after you performed. No matter what though our mind is that part of us that remembers those great moves and with experience can help create a dynamic and memorable performance.
So now that we have looked at the Four Corner Stones in dance lets look at what philosophy is and why it’s our glue. If you take all of life experiences, lessons learned and not learned and put them all together you have amazing, individual human beings. All of your travels and journeys through out your life make you what you are today. Did you know that it is what you represent as a human being that people see on stage? This is the glue that holds together your four cornerstones. The best way to remember to stay centered is to look in the mirror and see the miracle looking back at you. We all want to be well thought of by others but first we must think well of ourselves. Be grateful for all that you have in your life and just before you go out on stage or anywhere for that matter remember that you are representing your life up to that moment. Show the world that your life is worth telling and most of all worth remembering.