As Above, So Below (or, You Are What You Eat)

This isn’t about homeopathy or food. I apologize if I have just disappointed you. 

I’ve been thinking about process recently. It got me to remembering a time I performed in a friend’s show. It was her choreography, and it was modern pop, not belly dance. There was one fast little turn with a jump at the beginning that ended in a pose. Man, I could not get that turn. And the show was getting closer and closer. So finally I buckled down and made myself learn it. Hop. Spin. Pose. I ended it sharp, looking right up at the people. 

So the show arrived and we did the dance and I did the little turn. Flawlessly. 


Aaand realized that was the only moment in the whole dance when I looked at the people. Because that was the only part where I practiced looking at the people. 


This was the moment that I began to understand. What we do in practice is what we do on stage. 

Many of us prefer to dance socially rather than performing, but even so—if we are going to dance with anyone, at all, including ourselves, or at a party, it’s not much fun if we look at the floor the whole time, or have our faces scrunched up in concentration. 

It’s supposed to be fun. 

I tell my classes, “Pretend you’re having fun!” because so often we are working too hard and forget. 

One of my favorite dance articles is Dr. Nagwa Adra’s Belly Dance: An Urban Folk Genre (it is really brilliant). In the culture, dance is a fun thing to do. It’s playful. 

This is a Noticing thing. Scrunching ourselves up and concentrating too hard is a habit. I have seen whole groups do their recitals looking at the floor.  Watched so many dancers frown all through their dance. I can relate, because I spent much of my life looking at the floor. And frowning and concentrating when I dance. 

I had to train myself instead to be happy and open my body. I still fold in sometimes when I get nervous (yes, I do get nervous. I am secretly a serious, bookish, introvert <gasp!>). 

So back to those tinyhabits algorithms: After I ____ (in this case, notice that I am frowning while I dance), I ____ open myself up in joy. I open up, slow down, and place my focus on enjoyment in the moment. And I celebrate!

And I can tell you, I have gotten a lot better at this—by practicing all by myself in my room. 

The more we become familiar with where we want to be, the more quickly we can notice when we’re not there, the more quickly we can interrupt that pattern. 

Yes, it is different when in a real place with real people, but, like that snappy little turn so many years ago, practice (making a habit of a behavior) really does help tip the balance when we have to do this In Real Life. 

What dance habits would you like to change? What will you replace them with? 

I invite you to put just one little change in place this week. See what happens ; ) And let me know how it goes!

And here’s some music. It’s only 15 mins but it’s pretty nice. Algeria: Targui music


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