Updated: Mar 27
By Yara Sultan There are pains and trials we go through to awaken the dancer, our voice, inside of us. Once this has been done, it is near impossible to put the dancer back to sleep. What the soul needs to say has to be seen. The voice needs to be heard. We (ourselves, or others) may force that dancer to hide in the closet, but that spirit is still there, moving inside of us.
Our journey to awaken our inner dancer is hidden behind our dance. Our dance is seen as effortless and beautiful by those who watch us. They do not know how hard those steps are to feel, the vulnerability in the pauses we have to feel, the choices we have to make, and work that had to be done to become our truest selves on the stage (and in life).
Learning Oriental Dance is a journey that stimulates your body, mind, and soul. It can alter your way of interpreting what is around you. Our practice becomes a journey of self-discovery, exploration, and growth. Knowingly or not, Oriental Dance teaches us how to articulate our words and use voice not only in dance, but also in life. It is through practicing in class, our dance rooms, in front of our bathroom mirrors at home, that we are learning how to pronounce our words with movement. Our movements will not have range, depth, or coordination at first. It is like listening to a baby try to pronounce it’s first words. Like the baby, we will get frustrated and upset. However, like the baby, we will also eventually learn to speak after much practice.
Are you paying attention to your teachers? Could it be more than just “a dance” they are teaching you? They are our dance mothers.
While on this journey of becoming our truest self through dance, it is easy to become lost and dance on another path not meant for us. There is inspiration, clarity, and light as much as there is pain, confusion, and darkness in the world of Oriental Dance. There is comfort and security, and there is the latter. Some of us can feel very stuck with feeling safe and untested. Some choose to stay here because it is harmless and easy. There is a choice where we can be.
However, the final step of becoming our own can be the hardest and more rewarding jump. We question ourselves with doubts, wondering if we can survive the jump. The leap to following one’s intuition and their calling in Oriental Dance (and life) can be the hardest. The path is dark and unknown. It is work. A LOT of work. It is work that has not been tested by others, and only the dancer can light her lantern(Fanoos) and see her path.
There is no growth without risk, there is no triumph without pain. Dancers feel, hear, and understand the phrase “growing pains” in Oriental Dance when talking about their journey. It is important to remember there is always joy after pain. It is also the pain, insecurities, mistakes, weaknesses, and doubts that we overcome in our story that makes this pathway so beautiful no matter how dark. It is because of these trials, we are who we are as a person, and a dancer.
Oriental dance becomes an instrument, an expression, and an extension of the soul. There will be those that will not like this power and will try to silence you. But how can this spirit be put to rest, and how could we turn away the power of using our voice? Once we have realized our voice through dance, there is almost no going back. In our minds, in our dreams, the dancer is there, whether we wish it to be or not, with the acceptance of others, or not.
Yara Sultan resides in central North Carolina where she reads, writes, performs and instructs passionately. She has taken her dance studies overseas and has taught many classes and also hosted workshops in her area. She is also the creator of Sultana Dance NC – a dance collective promoting professional and educated belly dance artists in North Carolina. It is Yara's vision to preserve the spirit of Middle Eastern dance and culture through professional performances, classes, and writing. Yarasultan.com