Beauty of belly dance
“Belly dancing is of course a misleading term and has a body part in it and have a misrepresentation of it. It’s not even the actual term. It is actually call Oriental dance or the Arabic term for it is Raqs sharqi”- Damini Sahay
Damini Sahay, who hails from a small city called Jamshedpur, which is in Jharkhand currently resides in the city of dream aka 'The Mayanagari' Mumbai.
She is not only a belly dancer but also a dance movement therapist. She believes that it was not she who choose belly dancing but belly dancing choosing her. According to her, belly dancing chooses its women, its people and the wounds, through which it wants to pass, grow, evolve through these hundreds of years. The ones who have been in this industry for so many years, it's because the belly dance choose them.
Sharing about her journey, Damini says, "When I moved to Delhi to study my masters in psychology, I was going through a dark phase of my life because for the first time ever, I completely gave up on dancing. Before belly dancing I used to do Kathak, contemporary, Bollywood, I was always into dancing. When I started doing my masters, I thought I have to completely focus on my masters and this was a very difficult course. I wanted to be a great psychologist and stop putting my one leg in dance and one leg in psychology. I loved my subject but not dancing would not have such dark side on my life. I was in a depressive phase where I lost interest in a lot of things in those six months."
Damini shares that she used to get dreams where she was in a belly dancing class, wearing a black color skirt and a lot of energetic women around.
She adds, "I remember feeling so natural about the dance form and that was when I told my mom about these dreams and wanted to start doing belly dancing. Being from a small city, my mother was a bit skeptical and wanted me to re-join dance classes of other forms that I used to do earlier. However, I was not okay about it and she agreed to send me some extra pocket money without letting my father know about it and promised her I would just do the beginner level course which was for 3 months. Later, I started learning with the Banjara School of art and within a year, the director asked me to join the company as a teacher which was unbelievable as I never imagined this would become the biggest turning point of my life and this would b the purpose of my life."
For Damini, the dance form is a very spiritual journey and it's completely alright if it's not a spiritual journey for all.
She believes that if she can impact women and make them understand to self care, self accept and remember to love and accept their body, even for a couple of hours, months or years, she would have made the most amount of impact that she has hoped to make.
She says, "Since I am also a dance movement therapist, I also take module in which I combine dance movement therapy and belly dance to reach sexual acceptance. I don't just teach belly dance in those sessions, those are also movement and therapy sessions using the beautiful and age old philosophies of belly dancing. I help them to get out over them, their same and deep rooted sexual traumas and try to fill those body parts where we are storing our shame and the disownership of the sexuality which mostly happens to be our chest and hips and hair as it also targets these three body parts of the women as it is just the dance form."
Damini says that till date she been facing many challenges but the initial challenges was to make people aware about what you are doing and its beyond something to entertain men.
She adds, "We cannot deny that it was sometime like that, if an artist chooses it to be in that way but that's not it. Making the people in the society here understand that if I am a belly dancer its not because that I am found of wearing the belly dance costume and showing of my skin to gain the attention of men. I have seen belly dance changing over the years. It was not easy to make even my parents understand that I want to express myself and I want to be a woman who is confident whether I am wearing something or even if I am wearing less or more but I am confident in my shape, size, color and in my gender and I am just beyond what the society wants to define me as a woman and I think that was the biggest challenge back then."
She shares that belly dancing is of course a misleading term and has a body part in it which leads to misrepresentation of the dance form.
She shares, "It's not even the actual term. It is actually call Oriental dance or the Arabic term for it is 'Raqs sharqi' (Raqs means dance and sharqi means of the orient or the middle east of the arab world). Once I started to know what it is like back in the new to internet days, I was very entreat as the women looked very confident and very mysterious and the movements looked extremely mesmerizing and then I happen to chance upon Meher who was back then the only woman teaching in India. I was very inspired by her dance and how she spoke about the signs, the history of belly dancing that started of as a custom which the woman used to practice in front of each other by celebrating womanhood."
Damini shares that it's really high time that people stop looking at the controversies behind everything.
She adds, We need to start focusing on how beautiful it is and has got in its rich history, movement, vocabulary to give a human being be it a man or a woman so much strength and grace training, so much awareness about your inner smaller muscles, so much alignment and connection with your body and self acceptance. It distracts the dancers and the young minds we have so many talented dancers these days. We should not be talking about some kind of controversies around it which doesn't need any attention again and again. As a nation, we need focusing and reinforcing dancers and the young minds with the beauty of belly dance."
The Junkeri 3 month module
The Junkeri dance will be coming with a 3 months module that is going to start from in the end of March. The module will start from March till May, where at the end of every month they would immerse in the study of oriental dance and few fusion topics but the focus will be on understanding more about oriental dancing.
"It is so much more than isolating and I want dancers from the South of India to participate. It was really amazing to see men in the last workshop coming out and studying about oriental dancing and honoring the dance form. The 3 months module is going to hit Hyderabad for doing a long oriental immersive series and at the end will be small celebrations, hafla and small show where the dancers can even perform and also do solo presentation," ends Damini.