What was in the package, you may ask? I shall tell you!
It was Rachel Brice's new DVD, "Serpentine"!
I was introduced to Rachel Brice several years ago by a friend who had her first DVD. Before I saw this DVD, particularly the performance on said DVD, I had little interest in learning belly dance. I had watched belly dancers in the past, but I'd never understood why it was called "belly" dance because to me, it just looked like a bunch of swiveling in shiny costumes and I never noticed them actually dancing with their bellies.
And then I saw Rachel.
I was completely blown away by how precise, sharp and clean her movements were. It was like watching belly dancing fused with pop locking. And I FINALLY got to see some incredible, enviable belly work. It was honestly the fact that she actually USES her belly in the dance that turned my opinion of belly dance around. And the control she has over her body is staggering. There are moments when she's moving different parts of her body in a way that seem almost nonsensical (watch around 3:00 into the above video to see what I mean). Seeing Rachel Brice also introduced me to the fact that there are several styles of belly dance, and that what I'd traditionally seen in the past was a "cabaret" style. What Rachel did was more rooted in the "tribal" style, and her particular brand of belly dance, "tribal fusion".
Call me an instant tribal fusion fan.
When I took up hooping, belly dance started to look a little more appealing to learn. Besides being fun, belly dance teaches you to be aware of your arms and how you are holding them, and when you've got a hoop spinning around your waist, your arms are either up and dancing or stuck in the dreaded "t-rex" position. So I voted for belly dance arms. I practiced with that first DVD of Rachel's for a while, and took classes from a local teacher.
When this new DVD came in the mail, I put it on immediately (after making sure my roommates would be okay with just sitting and watching an instructional belly dance video; I had hoops to tape so I wasn't actively following along). Just watching the intro got me jazzed to see what new drills Rachel had to offer. I pointed at the screen and I said, "I want to move like her."
My roommate looked at the screen, then at me, and said, "I want to move like me!" And the reaction I had to that was rather bizarre, because normally I am all about self-empowerment. But her statement didn't seem to jive with what I was feeling, so I shook my head and said, "I want to move like HER."
I realized in that moment that when I said I want to move like Rachel, it was a form of self-empowerment. This statement wasn't coming from a place of envy, it wasn't coming from a feeling of lack in myself or wishing that I could magically transform into Rachel Brice. Instead, when I said "I want to move like her," what I meant was that I know I have it within me to one day have that same control, that same precision. I didn't exactly know how to word it properly, because I didn't exactly mean I want to move JUST like her, what I meant was, "I want to be so aware of my body that I can make it move however I desire, like Rachel."
It doesn't really matter to me if I ever look just like Rachel, or have a belly as flat as Rachel, or a wardrobe as impressively jaw-dropping, or a fan-base as rabid and loyal. When I look at Rachel Brice, I see complete and total awareness of the body. There is not a move that woman makes that isn't intentional, and that's what I admire most about her. That's what I want to internalize and make my own. I'm not going to do the yoga or the drills on this DVD with the intention of someday being able to dance "just like Rachel", I'm going to do them with the intention of becoming even more in tune with my own body. (Which, it occurs to me, is why I do a lot of things.) In the end, with diligent practice, I will still be moving like me. I'm always moving like me. I can't not move like me, because I'm the only me that I am. But I know there's some serpentine in me, and I can't wait to bring it to the surface.
Lessons Learned From Rachel Brice:
-Total control comes from consistent practice
-Fluid movements make a beautiful dance
-Don't be afraid to wear LOTS of shinies ;)