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Student Spotlight – Shannon

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Name: Shannon or “Shan”
Age: 25
Profession: CNA and student nurse (hopefully RN soon!)
Hobbies: This is the stuff I do when I’m not in class, studying, in clinical’s, or working, right? Uh… generally sleep. When I can. Hopefully I get to do that again soon. Other than that, I’m trying to learn how to hula hoop — it’s… going. And I try to play with a heavy camera sometimes…

How long have you been studying bellydance? 
I started in May(ish) last year, and took a (2-3 session long?) hiatus while adjusting to school, but I am happily back in the mix!
When did you first see bellydance? What were your first impressions?
To be honest, I don’t have a distinct moment where I remember seeing it; I had seen a couple of routines when I was little that were LOOSELY based on belly dance, to one degree or another, but nothing like ATS in the least. ATS arrived only after I googled “Bellydance classes Seattle” one evening (on a whim), but once I fell into that rabbit hole, the take away from the youtube videos was “They look like they’re having a blast”, and that totally sold me.

What motivated you to finally take your first bellydance class? 

I really felt like I needed to do something different; I required change. So, on a whim, I sought something that was fairly opposite of what I typically did. Being a rather introverted individual, without a ton of free time to deal with life stressors, I wanted to do something to really shake up my day-to-day; something that would encourage new/different friends, that I could fit in between my “work, eat, and sleep-until I go back to work” cycle, that would push me positively.

What was your first class like?
Scary, to be honest. I had all of these (very silly) fears of what others would think of me A lot of people who have taken previous dance classes understand the fear of coming into something totally new and a lot of… competitive energy coming your way. Deep Roots wasn’t like that at all. Once class got going, the worries faded, and I had a blast — by no means did I know what I was doing, but I tried, and received a lot of encouragement.
In what ways do you think you have changed or benefited as a result of taking bellydance classes?

I’m still really introverted, but it’s expanded my social circle. The environment is so body positive and so endorsing of positive relations between women dancers — it’s a little bit of a shock from what I’ve seen previously.

I think it’s given me a better view on things like not getting things on the first time; the importance of being a person who is comfortable making mistakes, doing things wrong, and looking silly at times, because the more comfortable with it you are, the more help you get.
It’s also given me a little break from my school schedule (or work schedule). I get really lost in the amount of crap I have to do, and needed to “assign” a certain slot of time for me to be a little selfish. It gives me a really healthy frame of mind and helps me relax.
What is your favorite move or concept you have learned so far and why?

Egyptian! If for nothing else, than I like how my cupcake skirt looks when I do it. Giant, puffy, colorful skirts ftw!

Any advice for other students who are just starting out?

Have fun, be silly, smile and make friends; this is too wonderful a group to be guarded. If you find yourself an enamored with this as I have, and with a conflict in schedule, find a way to make it work. If for no other reason than your arms will hurt when you eventually return.

Any other thoughts to share?
Please don’t keep yourself from doing this for reasons other than you don’t want to do it. I hear (and was one of the many people who said) “When I get down to a size ___.” Or “When I lose ____ lb/kg.” Don’t put restrictions on yourself for doing something you might enjoy.(Editor’s note: have a read about this over here)

You want to lose weight? This is a great way to gain strength in muscle groups, and lose weight. It’s a supportive atmosphere for health and fitness… unlike that girl on the elliptical next to you at 24/7 who you are SURE is eyeballing you, but she won’t say it even though when your speed picks up, hers totally does to…. what was I saying? Oh, right. It’s not like that here.

Learning to be comfortable with myself on my journey through fitness/weight loss was super hard on my own, and I really wish I had just joined earlier and taken the time to celebrate my body while I was transitioning.
Also, seriously, your arms are going to hurt if you don’t practice…

Oh Shannon, we know what you mean!: gotta keep those arms up!
Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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Shay Moore is the director and primary instructor at Deep Roots Dance in Seattle, WA. She loves writing, movies, costuming, knitting, cooking, and bellydance to the moon and back again; and loves her amazing husband and doggies even more than that.

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