by Staff Writer Nizana El Rassan In honor of women’s month, I propose that every woman is “phenomenal,” just like Maya Angelou spoke about in her famous poem. Women in general are strong, intelligent, and compassionate. I have volunteered alongside them in animal shelters, worked with them in various settings, have mentored and been mentored by phenomenal women. I salute those women dancers who have surmounted so much, are so busy and yet they present heartfelt or entertaining performances, with the audience rarely knowing what is under the tip of their iceberg.
I know of dancers who have survived domestic violence, and I have danced with Shimmy Mob three times so far in support. I know of dancers who are surviving major health issues, and their inner strength is inspiring. I know of dancers who have escaped bad relationships, family relationships, and jobs or who are still dealing with these things, and they come out on stage and lose themselves in the music.
It takes energy, preparation, practice and so much more to present onstage. Women of various ages, sizes, and abilities are up to the charge! Along with everything else they have going on, they spend the time to familiarize themselves with the music, coordinate costuming, makeup and accessories, rehearse, and much more. While it’s also a lot of work, it’s worth it.
There are so many benefits of dancing, and women realize this. Increased coordination, stamina and balance, along with other physical benefits. There are mental benefits of stress reduction, an active way to keep your mind alert and the opportunity to engage in an uplifting, fun activity that provides a break from the everyday grind. There is the camaraderie of sharing and being with other dancers. There is the fabulous music, the wonderful costuming and learning.
Each woman who dances has a story, of accomplishments, challenges, and dreams. Each dancer presents their performance based on who they are, how they’re feeling, what they’ve learned, and what they’ve done with what they’ve learned. It could vary based on what happened that day, whether they are at their physical best, how much practice they got in, and how much is on their mind. Just like the iceberg analogy, another one is the carrot. You see the green top above the ground, but what you don’t see below is the carrot. You may see the delicate fronds, but not the roots and support of those carrot greens. Even a dancer’s friends may not be aware of the carrots below; carrots are different sizes and shapes and not all orange!
The next time you are watching dancers and think the dancer is “too old, or “too heavy” or “just a baby dancer,” or whatever, be mindful as to what that woman may be going through, or has been through. She could have just been assaulted, fighting cancer, bullied at work, alienated from family members, have a sick child or all of the above. She is coming out anyway and dancing to a style of dance that is typically accepting, community focused, and magical, and she may not just want to dance, but need to dance. She is a phenomenal dancer and a phenomenal woman.
Nizana has long been involved in Middle Eastern Dance as a performer, instructor, student, troupe director, choreographer, event producer, and competition judge. Nizana's articles and reviews have been published in seven Belly Dance magazines and newsletters including Fanoos! Having studied with a wide variety of instructors, in addition to performing Egyptian flavored American Style Belly Dance, Nizana dabbles in folkloric and fusion styles. She is known for her expressiveness and connection to the audience. Nizana is available for instruction and has workshops scheduled in Florida and Washington State.