Keeping Dance Motivation During Quarantine And Curfew

Without a doubt, the quarantine experience has left so many of us feeling uninspired and unmotivated.  Even with online shows, the feeling has drastically changed: no live audiences and no effervescent experience left as all performances are now on video.  We are now also faced with many of our brothers and sisters feeling emotionally drained after fighting to be heard, acknowledged, and disappointed at racism in our own community.  How can we pick up the pieces and begin to dance again, no matter where we are?

First of all, take the time to reflect.  This is the opportunity to contemplate where we'd like to go from here both as individuals and as a community.  The obvious choice was to take advantage of the technology available; which I believe is our biggest win to come out of this situation.  With so many online dance courses popping up this is the perfect time to unabashedly try new teachers, styles, techniques, and to practice without the pressure of performing immediately afterward.  Virtual courses also mean that for the first time we can communicate and study with instructors from literally anywhere without the expense and burden of traveling.  It's also an excellent way to connect with your students and mentors.  Schedule a chat or a lesson to add some routine to your day and to make sure that you're not losing human interaction.  It can be daunting to be stuck in the house with your own thoughts (or your dear family) with no outside influences.  Take advantage of the time and accessibility to find new things you love, reconnect, and to finesse your foundation in Bellydance.  

However, the virtual transition brings up a point we are all in the middle of contemplating: who are we dancing for?  Are we dancing solely for other dancers who are watching in virtual audiences or are we dancing for whoever happens to come across our videos on social media?  Have we lost any sense of permanence in our performances as we eagerly await "normalcy" to return?

More than ever what will save our motivation is to ask ourselves, "Why?".  Even with online showcases and virtual meetings and online courses if we feel disheartened or isolated it can be very hard to get off the couch and make a new choreography.  I can personally attest that I have several videos and hours of music sitting on my laptop that I keep saying "I'll get to later" because I have no idea why I'm bothering to try and dance in my tiny room for seemingly no one special.  In a new world without due dates, there is no urgency to complete the work it takes to create new work.   Here's the conclusion I came to:

I remembered that I love Raqs Sharqi.  I dive into the music and lose track of time being mesmerized.  I love learning about the history and the cultures that we derive this artform from.  I adore challenging myself in my choreographies by asking "What If" in order to creatively problem-solve difficult musical compositions.  I dance to feel good.  Point blank.  I dance to connect to the part of myself that feels tied to everything and nothing at the same time.  No audience is required to go within and express without.  

To quote A'isha Azar, "Bellydance is a rebellion wrapped in a flirtation."  We can take our fears and anxiety of being stuck at home and transmute them into remembering that by bellydancing we are exerting our unmovable presence as sensual and powerful beings.  We are stronger than ignorance, we heal illness, we move for the innocent and replace all the bad with beauty.  If we truly feel this in ourselves, even just a little, we can realize that any small part we can muster to dance again does ourselves and the world a service.  Surely in the multiple millennia that our dances have existed there have been innumerable world events that we as a lineage have danced through.  

Finally, release the idea of perfection in order to put on a good show.  Have fun again.  Put the music on, revisit an old song, or just start with a track you usually skip over and see what bubbles up to the surface.  Maybe you'll come up with something; maybe you won't.  It doesn't matter right now, right?  Get comfortable with the idea that we've been granted a creative sabbatical to play with Bellydance play-doh and make whatever.  There is a unique freedom that is uncomfortable at first to create without having to show the world at the end.  Get your feelings out, try new moves, use different songs- keep what you like, and ball up the rest for the trash bin.   

In conclusion, take whatever steps feel necessary to protect your heart by limiting social media or TV and then fill that void with something that soothes before dancing.  Light a candle, have a cup of coffee, stretch, talk to a dance friend, whatever you'd like. Let this time be as healing as it is creative!

Oriana is a professional bellydancer and instructor in Tampa Bay, FL. She is the creator of Fanoos Magazine and the author of Raqs to Riches, available on Amazon.  She instructs at LvlUp Dance and Fitness in Tampa.  For more information Visit Oriana's website