Women of Moonlight

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The relationship between mother and daughter has a strong impact on the psyche of women, for it is through this natural bondage that the essence of femininity is passed from the previous to the new generation. The Song of Eve

Belly dance in itself is a symbol of femininity that empowers the essence of the female gender. The attraction to belly dance is an obvious result of many women wanting to embody their own versions of the feminine image. It’s not so much the costume as it is the dance itself that entices women into her labyrinth with the impassioned need to be skilled in her arts. I suppose the two together are a fatal attraction that lures women in with no exit available.

Walking into a women’s world that is created by the intoxicating smells of perfume and henna, visual arrays of color and fabric and the sounds of enchanting drums and finger cymbals binds the enchanted spell to each dancer. I think when Salome danced thus seducing Herod she brought the allure of the feminine image to the forefront of how society really thinks about dance and seduction. We tempt, we seduce therefore we are mysterious creatures that become an allegory for the sensual and sexual self.

The hardest part for a mother and wife is to walk onto a stage and become a seductress which belly dance in many ways encompasses. The feminine image is many things to many people and the way that people view the myth defines what our feminine image is to them. We bring multiple definitions to life by the subtle, dynamic and brief moments on stage. Our audience seems to add their meaning to our dance before we ever get onto the stage because in our society women have become the icon for myths and fantasies that really have nothing to do with us.

The very fact that we are associated with the moon in relation to the feminine aspect of her affect on people tells me that our dance is the embodiment of the sacred and ancient symbol of the priestess. Each and every time we dance we are celebrating our lineage to various societies’ thoughts, ideals, customs and traditions through out history.

Our specific dance style allows for changes to occur just as it nurtures and allows for different styles to emerge and grow into their own dynamics. Belly dance and the moon have in common the unique aspect of their individual personages which physically affect the masses in a way only the feminine can.  As I was looking at the  eight phases of the moon: New moon, waxing crescent, first quarter, waxing gibbous, full moon, waning gibbous, last quarter, waning crescent, and then back to new moon; I realized that our dance movements can be connect to each phase.

 

  1. New Moon-The Mishmash of Sharp and Soft Hips
  2. Waxing Crescent- Hips that make a Statement/Come Hither Soft Hips
  3. First Quarter-Layering w/Sharp and Soft Hips that Speak Volumes
  4. Waxing Gibbous- Soft Continual and Unending
  5. Full Moon-Opposition Rt and Lft Moves w/Layering called the Mirror Effect
  6. Waning Gibbous-Level Changes from Sultry to Playful
  7. Last Quarter-Traveling Steps with Style
  8. Waning Crescent-Full Body Layering with Accenting Passion/Body Angles and Turns

It has become apparent to me that our dance and the moon have more in common then I once thought. The symbol for the Goddess is the moon whose phases reflect the stages within a woman’s life. We are connected to the moons waxing and waning by our menstrual cycles. This is why I believe the moon is the symbol of the feminine because she can affect tides upon the earth and a woman’s time of the month with equal power and indifference. She is our time clock to our internal desires as women and we judge life not just according to age alone but to the changes within our bodies that we cannot deny. Puberty, adulthood, marriage, motherhood, menopause are really guided by the seasons and those seasons are guided by the moon.

If we look at the phases of ourselves as dancers, we can see this connection in the experience of learning that evolves just like the moon. Our phases are not so different from the moon especially if we look at the enthusiastic beginner that grows into the apprenticed beginner-intermediate. The intermediate dancer turns into the beginner performer and choreographer. The professional emerges through trial and error spreading her wings of individuality. The individual professional then becomes the choreographer and creative director. The creative choreographer and director goes back to the simplicity of the beginner dancer’s enthusiasm to regain her untainted view of her own dance. And finally as professionals we look to the simplest movement that gives us the greatest joy because finally our emotions have the intensity of a seasoned dancer but with a twist of our own interpretation of life mixed in.

I am a woman of moonlight because I recognize that the moon emulates the strengths of my feminine self. The cycles of the moon have been important not only to me but to women through out history because of her vigilance and ceaselessly timed phases that keep us connected to her. As the moon gracefully goes in and out of her phases; as women of moonlight we try to emulate her from various stages, venues or from one dressing room to the next.

Belly dance is a spiritual and physical calling to women from all over the world to remember not only how life evolves but how each of us respond to the cycles of our own immortality. Only with understanding how the moon affects each of us as women can we understand how connected to her we are and how much of her is in our dance.

Hymn to Diana

Queen and Huntress, chaste and fair,
Now the sun is laid to sleep,
Seated in they silver chair
State in wonted manner keep:
Hesperus entreats they light,
Goddess excellently bright.
Earth, let not they envious shade
Dare itself to interpose;
Selene’s shining orb was made
Heaven to clear when day did close:
Blessus then with wished sight
Goddess excellently bright.

Lay thy bow of pearl apart,
And they crystal-shining quiver;
Give unto the flying hart
Space to breathe, how short soever:
Thou that mak’st a day of night,
Goddess excellentely bright.
~~ From Classic Mythology by:
Charles Mills Gayley circa 1893 ~~