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So how do you enjoy the process of reaching your full potential in dance?

For some, the journey to fulfil this purpose is often filled with challenges both internally and externally. It is through my own past challenges that I felt inspired to explore this topic further. My commitment toward personal growth and healing has naturally flowed into my dance practice. Through teaching and performing Tribal Belly Dance I have gained many insights into myself, where my experience of dance continues to be a metaphor for my life. I have noticed that every aspect of my practice mirrors where I am on my path. It is for this reason that I wish to draw upon dance as the basis for some of the common challenges I have observed some belly dance students to experience. Through presenting and offering some questions and ideas about these challenges, I hope to provoke personal enquiry into your own experience.

Muscle tension

Persistent muscle tension can be a major obstacle to freedom of movement. There are many causes, as well as many remedies.

Causes can include:

– Injury
– Joint restriction
– Lack of sleep
– Inadequate nutrition
– Poor posture
– Repressed emotions
– Sress

Stress seems to be a common complaint among many in today’s society. When the stress response is working properly it helps us feel focused, energetic and alert however beyond a certain point it stops being helpful and starts causing major damage to many aspects of your life. The resulting tension caused by stress can then set up a cycle where it interrupts the smooth flow of energy throughout the body. When energy flow is disrupted, emotions can become unbalanced which can then create even more tension. Causes to ongoing muscular tension can be internal or external and it is through awareness and self-enquiry that an appropriate course of action can be taken.

Smooth transitions

In many styles of dance, students are required to flow smoothly from one movement to another with seamless transitions. If you have tried many strategies to get your transitions flowing well and you are still not getting anywhere, then perhaps it is time to look inwards. If you find transitions challenging you may like to ask yourself how well you cope with transitions and changes in your life. Do you resist them or do you ‘go with the flow’? I have observed that some dancers who are able to easily flow from one movement to another are often able to adjust to changes in their life without too much resistance and struggle. Just a thought 😉

Engaging facial expression

An important aspect of stage presence in performance is appropriate facial expression. So much is expressed through the face and as a performer you are required to learn to become aware of what the face is saying.

How comfortable are you in your own skin?

Are you being authentic to who you are?

Do you feel the music internally or are you just counting the steps?

If confidence is an issue, what do you need to do to start feeling more confident?

How connected are you to your partner/s and/or the audience?

If you find it difficult to express emotion through the face, you may want to ask yourself: How easily do i express emotions in general, and why?

Eye contact

In dance, eye contact is often used as a form of non-verbal communication with a partner/troupe and audience. The ability to feel at ease while maintaining eye contact requires self-confidence and willingness to connect with others. Eye contact and facial expressions provide key social and emotional information that allows us to gauge the truth about how someone feels. This can be a confronting experience for some, however it does get easier with practice and mindfulness!


Some students find themselves constantly comparing themselves and feeling envious of others and fail to enjoy the rewards that come from exploring and developing their own strengths and individual expression. When there is an acceptance of the beauty and talent of others it is more likely that similar attributes are seen within. As a result, personal power increases and there is joy found in expressing the unique authentic qualities of the self.


Feeling competitive is a normal experience that you may encounter at some stage in your dance journey. I have found that there are two main ways competition can go: You can either use the energy of competition as a way to inspire you to push yourself to reach your own potential or you can feel your self-esteem decline and behave or think negatively about the person you feel threatened by. I have also found that everybody is unique and has their own strengths and areas for development, and through comparing your “past” self (from say 1 year ago) to your ‘present’ self, you are better able to improve in a balanced way.

We all seem to face challenges and opportunities for growth in the art forms we choose to pursue. I have only briefly identified and posed questions about some of the many aspects some of you may face in the process of developing and reaching your full potential in dance.

Awareness and intention is the first step to assist in clearing the way. I have found that many of my internal challenges have often come down to unhealed aspects from my past, and through acknowledgement, personal care and outside assistance (practitioners/teachers) I have found these blocks start to clear (I am not saying they are all gone yet!) As some of the challenging emotions from the past start to clear, and positive changes in lifestyle are made, your experience of dance often changes for the better.

As the mind/body/spirit becomes more balanced it is more likely that you will enjoy the process of reaching your potential in dance, which in my opinion requires discipline, an incessant thirst to learn and grow and an ability to express the authentic self in an easy, relaxed and joyful way!