Yalla Let’s Dance

Shucheesmita Simonti:

From a young age, I cherished a secret passion in my heart. I was extremely drawn towards Bellydance but never expressed about this fantasy of mine to anyone. First of all, I am an introvert. And secondly, I grew up in a conservative society and did not dare talk about my fantasy given Bellydance is incredibly sexy!

Last year, I realized I had several unfulfilled goals, and learning this beautiful form of dance was one of them. This realization raised several dilemmas in my mind. First of all, I was 27. Could I learn at this age? But my heart would not let go of what it really wanted. I guess many can relate to this feeling- the feeling of realizing that you have suppressed your inner voice to please others and looked up to others to love you and make you happy. So I googled for dance lessons nearby and found out about the Dance Movement.

When I joined a trial lesson with Sarah Safi Harb, the founder of the dance school at  I was not sure if I will continue. But once I put on the beautiful scarf and the moment the music was on, I was filled up with feelings of euphoria. I felt as if I was being swept off my feet! It was one of the most magical moments of my life.  And right then, I knew I made the right decision.

Later on, I took several lessons throughout the year. It has been a mind-blowing experience for me. It has been like a drug, I found myself irresistibly drawn towards Bellydance.

Bellydancing helped me to connect to myself on a deeper level. It also brought confidence and feminine energy to my life. While I grew up, I was not really encouraged to think about sexuality or pleasure. I had no idea about pleasure and I was never aware of my body. Pleasure is a taboo topic in Bangladeshi society at large, and women often measure their attractiveness through the eyes of their husbands or lovers. For a long time, I too was trapped into that belief that my attractiveness had to be validated by a romantic partner.

But in Bellydance lessons, we were encouraged by our lovely instructor Sarah to feel our body, to feel sexy, to feel beautiful, to embrace our inner diva. And it was a difficult process initially, it took a while to let go of my inhibitions. I wondered, ” Am I beautiful? Can I really do those sensuous moves?” But the end product was inner transformation. I felt beautiful, I felt confident, I felt sexy. After a decade of dreaming, I was finally living my dream- dancing to the beats of Arabic songs even though I did not understand the lyrics. 

It helped me to heal from body image issues inflicted on me that I carried deep inside for decades. While I was a teenager, I was bullied and made to believe I was no beautiful enough. Bullies encouraged me to hate my body, to hate my dusky skin tone, my nose, my figure- everything. But last year, I made a commitment to overcome my body image issues. And Bellydance played a crucial role in helping me embrace myself, to accept myself just the way I am- with my qualities and flaws, and to love myself.

I am glad that I found out such an amazing dance school and a friendly and incredible instructor like Sarah, who I found always smiling and always patient. She is no less than an angel, a mentor who taught so many women to feel beautiful and to discover their inner diva.

Thank you, dear Sarah 💜💚💙❤ Shukran habibti 

Re-posted from the writer’s personal blog.

The writer is part of the core team of Women Chapter. She has completed an M.A. in Development Studies from the International Institute of Social Studies, the Hague, the Netherlands.  Her passion includes inter-faith peacebuilding, refugee rights, women empowerment, etc. She is one of the young leaders of the Women Deliver Young Deliver 2018 Program. When she is free, she likes to write, travel or make quilled art/crafts.



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