Wednesday, April 1, 2009

My SITA* Chapter 6: Presentation of Self or Who Am I When I’m Dancing?

Borrowing the model from my martial arts study (aikido), I’ve decided to think of SITA as a practice rather than something one masters. It seems to require a knowledge of self, and like most martial arts today, supports a kinesthetic inquiry into self knowledge. I am not suggesting that bellydance is the same as the Japanese budo: paths toward self-realization thru corporeal discipline. But for me, right now, in this time and place, the kinesthetic study of SITA is causing me to turn my attention on my sense of who I am. And perhaps by treating it like budo, and by seeking that mystical union of mind, body, and self in action, I can discover, cultivate, and present a fuller sense of me thru my dance.

In order to improvise intelligently within the tradition of SITA, I need to be knowledgeable of the dance vocabulary. I’ve been a student of bellydance since 2001 (with frequent breaks due to joint injuries). I began with American Tribal Style but quickly explored other varieties bellydance including Tunisian and Egyptian SITA. And having studied all kinds of dance over the course of 50 years, I’m pretty confident that I embody sufficient technical information. But, in order to access that knowledge, I need to get out of my own way, and that’s all about Self.

This where I, me, my body, and my self become all muddled together. I am afraid my body will betray me, either by not remembering how to move or by revealing my self to all the world. I have this strange notion that no-one really knows who I am and that, based on the principle that “movement never lies,” when I dance I am revealed. And I worry that I have nothing to offer. But bellydancer Bahaia advises that you must find confidence from within. Present who you are remembering that you have something to share and remind yourself that your dance is good enough. In order to perform SITA, I must learn to trust myself and embrace the possibility of revelation. And if I treat this whole process as a kinesthetic exploration of who I am when I’m dancing, maybe I can get out of my own way and let the dance lead me to self knowledge.

*SITA Solo Improvised dance featuring Torso Articulations


  1. Nice post, as usual. I want to comment on the concept of "movenment never lies" I saw Michael J Fox on Oprah. He said he tells people that 'his body language lies' due to the Parkinsons. I know you have a different kind of relationship to movement that I could ever know. I know as a singer than my instrument has failed me, at least for now and yet I know if I could sing that the me I am now would be able to bring more of myself to a performance that a younger self because I have more to offer. So, that is the irony, to get yourself out of the way enough to show your true self.... Shelley

  2. I wish I had seen that. I've wondered how conditions like Parkinsons or paralysis change the Self's relationship to the Body and its messages. For example, if you have no sensory data or false sensory data, how do you know how you are feeling emotionally?