DanceCraft has been an integral part of my life for the past 7 ½ years. When I joined this belly dance group in 2012, I had no idea it would change my life. I spent many years in adult dance classes, where I experienced unhealthy competition, jealousy and drama. It wasn’t until I began exploring and understanding this unique improv style of bellydance, that I was able to become a better version of myself (and I am still working on that!).
Jaynellen Arrington and Paula Nelson both played an integral part in challenging me technically as a dancer, a follower and a leader. The content shared by these amazing ladies goes far beyond technical dance. We learn about communication, troubleshooting and leaderships skills, as well as patience with ourselves and others. We share positive energies with one another and embrace our imperfect bodies to perform beautiful movements. We learn from one another, share our difficulties with one another, and support each other like no other group of women I have ever known. Our mentors are there to guide us in the dance, but what we achieve beyond that is solely from the effort we put into ourselves.
During Covid isolation, we never missed a beat. Jayne made sure we had virtual zoom classes set up and began to learn in a whole new way. Each week we overcame new challenges and difficulties. We began to use the two-dimensional platform as a way to view ourselves differently as dancers, to better our skills, and to read each other’s body language from an entirely new perspective.
Our bellydance style is a great form of exercise, both isometric and cardio. It increases endurance, strength and flexibility. We learn how to relax and contract certain muscle groups in our dance movements. For me, the best part about this dance is the absence of stress on my body. I suffer with severe scoliosis and lower back issues. This form of bellydance has greatly strengthened my core muscles over the years. I routinely use it as part of my physical therapy and my healthy lifestyle.
Performing with these beautiful women has been the greatest joy in my life. These ladies have become my sisters and my lifeline. There is never pressure or competition. Encouragement and honest feedback are what continue to drive each of us to be a better dancer each time we are on the dance floor. We are all very unique women; different viewpoints, character traits and body types. DanceCraft is the strong bond that ties us all together. When we dance, we become one with the music and each other. When we dance, we are no longer different. When we dance, we are the strong, confident women of DanceCraft!
Tracy Lawrence, Principal Dancer