Get a life – Dancing

I like dancing as much as I like listening to music. Unfortunately, when it comes to dancing we could say I was born with two left feet. My first “steps” into dancing were in my Ballet classes when I was a child. I was so clumsy and that not even my mother would give me compliments – pink tutu and all! I was lucky being a teenager during the 80’s, because nobody knew how to dance anyway. (Thank God I escaped Disco!) But I am a Brazilian woman and I’ve always loved Carnival. Samba should be in my blood. I’m still looking for it. I don’t bloody know where it is!

Olinda´s Carnival

Fotógrafo/Photographer: Stefano Paterna (direitos reservados/copyrighted)

Then Lambada (Merengue’s Brazilian hot version) became a fever and I decided I was going to learn how to dance it. I started taking classes and it wasn’t a total disaster: I learned the most basic steps. I even had to show and teach them to a group of Peruvians in a New Year’s Eve party in a club in Mollendo when I was in Peru. (I’m pretty sure that they started second-guessing my nationality after that.)

When you tell people you are Brazilian, they expect you to be hot!

Stefano-Paterna-Valeria-17Fotógrafo/Photographer: Stefano Paterna (direitos reservados/copyrighted)

I was about to accept that I would never be able to dance when I moved to Natal. I needed to exercise and there was not a good gym around my place. I had a student that was taking belly dancing classes. She convinced me to go with her and take a class. It was the most difficult thing I’d ever made in my life, but the teacher was so funny that I decided I would give it a try. Have you watched one of Disney’s cartoons where the trees in the forest get alive and start trying to walk? They are very stiff and they can barely move. Their branches are lifeless and their roots get in their way.

Whenever I tried to learn a new step I felt just like this:

Val_6Fotógrafo/Photographer: Stefano Paterna (direitos reservados/copyrighted)

My teacher was very patient and had lots of different teaching approaches. After some very exhausting classes, I started learning a few movements; then some steps and some choreographies. But I would disappear from school whenever the shows were about to happen. One day I realized I was just like some of my students that refused to speak the language they were learning with other people than me. I knew it was very frustrating to see that someone had learned something – despite all the difficulties – and would not use it because of shyness or insecurity. I decided I was going to dance in a show once to please my teacher. She was really excited about that. She got me a green sequins costume and the day of the performance arrived. I was so nervous that I didn’t see anyone and I still felt like a tree (a Christmas tree due to the costume), but I danced and I didn’t miss a step. It was very nice and liberating.

The day I looked like a Christmas tree:

DSC_0475DSC_0484Tuareg – Natal – Rio Grande do Norte

After this performance, I had two more teachers. They taught me how to improve the movements, adding some life to my lifeless limbs and hips. It has been very challenging not only physically but also mentally. We learn to oppose being sexy to being intelligent. Belly dancing is a very sexy dance. There is a fine line between sexy and vulgar. During most of my life I could not see that line: sexy was vulgar. Belly dancing allowed me to get in touch with my feminine sex appeal again; it gave me more confidence as a woman. Of course that it is still something very difficult for me and that I’ll never be someone that can easily learn how to dance a different style. But I did learn something and it felt great!

After facing my fear, I felt as light as a bird!

Stefano-Paterna-Valeria-7Fotógrafo/Photographer: Stefano Paterna (direitos reservados/copyrighted)


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