My Vision of Belly dance as an Alternative Spiritual Culture By Ansuya
I begin this article sitting in the airport of Bogota, Columbia where I have just finished a weekend seminar with the Prem Shakti Academy of Belly dance.  

During my time with the wonderful women of Prem Shakti, I am once again amazed by the power of Belly dance to overcome language, cultural, and personal differences, uniting women on a quest to understand the power of sensuality and its physical and spiritual implications. How many reasons are there to dance? I have students who participate for fitness, for fun, for fashion, for music, for friendship, for art and for ambition. These are magical, deeply fulfilling additions to everyday life. I am also beginning to see a great rise of participation in Bellydance for the specific purpose of exploring the spiritual possibilities and their effect on culture. This is a very exciting development. Or, perhaps more aptly described as a resurgence if you count the 1960’s in the United States, or by gone times in India.  

I am very fascinated by the theory that Belly dance may have started in India. Partly because I am half Indian and partly because the story of how it began makes sense out of all the feelings I have about the dance instinctively.  

Belly Dance And Sex

As the story goes, society in India was once matriarchal. Religion was run by women and was celebrated in temples where goddess energy was worshiped. The goddess was represented by women who performed the Bellydance, in order to channel and connect with divine energy. Men were invited to witness this dance and could also connect with the divine energy by having sex with the women.  

I like this idea as it puts sex back in what I think is its rightful class of something sacred and spiritually elevating. This, of course, begs the question, “How is this elevation achieved?” I believe any physical exercise circulates the systems in the body, thereby increasing and refining the energy of the body. When you combine this benefit with some of the postures and intentions of Bellydance, the effect can be quite amazing.  

Charkas in Belly Dancing

Like in Yoga, I teach my students that the posture of Bellydance, if honed can open up the charkas, or energy centers, of the body. I often liken the body to a temple and the posture of the dance to Feng Shui. If you align your posture properly, channels open up allowing great emotional expression to free up. Also, the body can become a conduit for energies floating about in the universe. These energies carry with them wisdom that is often then revealed through sudden epiphanies, increased intuition and sometimes psychic revelation.  

Bellydance goes even further by also integrating the liberating notion that the female and her sexuality are deeply healthy, powerful and significant.  

Suddenly the body, no matter its shape or size becomes cherished in preparation for connection. It is adorned with beautiful costuming that highlights its unique and feminine design. It moves with confidence and grace and says, I am healthy and divine.  

This puts the body in a deeply open state, which is the perfect state for lovers to be in to experience an ultimate union with each other and with divine energy flowing through one another. Tantric sex techniques and Yoga are great ways to achieve this state, especially for men who don’t Bellydance, but want to come to the same place of harmony with their lover. Further, as I have traveled all over the world visiting communities of dancers, I have noticed that, like in my own life, other tendencies seem to naturally evolve.  

Vegetarianism and Belly Dancing

Such as, there are a number of Bellydancers who adopt vegetarianism as a form of peaceful interaction with the planet and its life and a form of nutrition that offers a clean and energetically harmonious effect. I believe that this is sometimes due to an increase in the ability to feel energy all around you. Certainly the energy of food, which actually enters the body, then becomes a sensation that is best felt when full of light, violence free vibes.  

Another tendency seems to be that women are increasingly aware of the idea that they can create a life outside the norm. This is because Bellydance is becoming a thriving industry. Because of its popularity, women have the opportunity to become professional performers, teachers, sponsors, studio owners, concert producers, DVD producers, and more. Because the ethics of Bellydance lean towards a non-competitive, tribal sisterhood, the industry is one of the healthiest available to work in.  

This gives women the idea that they can change their lives. What was once a life that was previously dictated by society, now becomes one made completely of the woman’s design. What’s more, with this freedom the eye seems to set on an even higher goal, perhaps the highest of all, and that’s that life in its totality can become an expression of the individual’s vision. By this, I actually mean down to the details of creating all reality. Down to the science of it.  

Since it is my goal to see to it that every woman on the planet is exposed to Bellydance, and invited to participate, that translates into a huge chunk of the world’s population now feeling free to actively create a healthy life and healthy planet.  

This means that Bellydance as an alternative spiritual culture may quickly become a mainstream culture, which means that Bellydance is in a phenomenal position to change the world.   Now that’s a powerful evolution of the dance and one I am thrilled to be contributing to!  

Written by Ansuya