Fat Girl Making Movies

For those of you who don’t know, I’m big on film-making. I’ve taken a few documentary film classes, and it has become my new passion. I’m making a film on belly dancing right now (although it won’t be that good, due to time restrictions, etc.), and it has been really interesting. The women I’ve talked to do mention the dance’s power to empower them as women.

But even more interesting, most of them have spoken about how many women use the dance as healing for their victimization. I’ve been speaking with a professional dancer, as well as a woman who started belly dancing as a hobby, and it has become so much more to her. Both of them spoke of their own experiences with victimization, one through physical abuse, one through monetary, and how the dance has been therapeutic. I had originally decided to do this topic because I wanted to see who dances, and how they feel when they do it. I thought the film would be about confidence, body image, and empowerment. Little did I know it has become something so much more.

So, quick question for y’all: does anyone out there belly dance? How does it make you feel? I’m thinking about taking classes, and want to know about everyone else’s experiences.

Unfortunately, I have to finish my belly dance film by this weekend. Which means the blog might be a little neglected. Sorry. I just have so much to do! This week is the last week of the quarter at my college, and next week we have exams. I have two papers, a documentary, and a poetry collection to finish. Yikes.

Plus, I’ve been preparing for the last few weeks to do my Senior Project. I’ve decided to do a documentary film on the Chenille Sisters, a Michigan singing group. I’m going to focus on each of the three women in the group, and do sort of a triple biography, as well as a portrait of them as a group. I went home this weekend and started filming, and I’m uber excited about it. It’s going to be really really awesome, I think!

So, that’s all the news fit to print in my life. Sorry if the blog is a little neglected, but I’ll be back in full force by June 16th once my summer begins!

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9 thoughts on “Fat Girl Making Movies

  1. I have a bellydance DVD that I use to workout sometimes, but it’s not the same as taking a class or participating in a group.

    I do know, however, that fillyjonk over at Shapely Prose does (class/group thing), so you might want to email her. I’m sure she’d be willing to answer any questions you’ve got.

    Are you going to put these up on YouTube? I’m just curious, because your Fat Documentary was good, and I (for one, but I bet I’m not the only one) would love to watch it once you’re finished! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. I do, yeah, but my feelings on dance are really boring. At the beginning of one of my classes in the current semester we were all supposed to talk about what belly dance meant to us or how it made us feel or whatever. Everyone else talked about freedom, femininity, and what have you, and I totally dodged the question. But if I had answered, it would have been about the challenge of proprioception and maintaining correct body positioning — basically, the same stuff I got out of fencing, minus the competitive aspect. Using dance to overcome victimization — that’s far too high-level stuff for me. I just try to use it to practice having some idea what my body is doing.

  3. Hi,

    Lurker de-lurking.

    I have belly-danced in the past, and loved it (had to stop for “other reasons”, and am biding my time until I can return…).

    While I didn’t ever think of it as empowering per se, it really did give me a better sense of self. I became more aware of my own body and its abilities.

    I also got a real kick out of being the fattest woman in the troupe when we did our drum routine. I just laughed all the way through it, because damn! but didn’t I shimmy better than the rest of them! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Give it a shot. See if you can’t find a drop-in class somewhere, would be my suggestion.

  4. (I just actually read this more carefully — if you just have questions about whether you would like classes or not, then yes, send me an email! shapelyprose at gmail)

  5. Thanks for mentioning the Chenille Sisters! I hadn’t heard of them (apologies if this means I live under a rock; I kind of do) and I am all about the Michigan. I will definitely check them out.

  6. I loved dance class, and I miss it. I took Egyptian for about two years, but had to stop for a bit since I’m working on opening a business. It always made me feel very grounded and in my body, as well as being very energized. The bad side effect is I can’t hear drums without busting out a little shimmy or a few bumps!

  7. Spacedcowgirl, the Chenille’s aren’t uber well known or anything. But they’ve had a good run, and everyone who has heard their music/seen them in concert is in love with them! Take a listen if you can!

    Thanks for all the input, everyone! I take it most of you who have danced felt safe and comfortable in that sort of environment?

  8. I take it most of you who have danced felt safe and comfortable in that sort of environment?

    Oh, good god yes. I did hear one story about a girl whose teacher took a more ballet approach to belly dance, and thought people needed to be shaped a certain way to dance successfully, but I’ve encountered zero of that. My teachers even talk about the importance of eating tasty food to get more jiggle. I tend not to show my belly in class because that’s more comfortable for me, but I had no trouble showing it in a performance — and if I’d been nervous, there would have been plenty of other fat dancers around to show me that it looks just fine.

    I do probably worry more than other dancers about how I look onstage. There was one picture from our performance where I hadn’t hit my mark and was caught in the middle of turning around, and I was mortified when I saw it, because I often feel like I have to be twice as good just to prove that I’m okay. But that’s sheerly a performance thing — I don’t feel it in class at all — and it’s all me. It’s in no way encouraged by my teachers or classmates.

  9. I actually posted about belly dancing on my blog last week (http://creamynougatlair.com/?p=234). I highly recommend following the link in my post because the full essay is really fantastic and full of body image goodness.

    Even though I am always the tallest girl in class and almost always the fattest, it has never really been awkward. It took a couple classes before I realized that there is nothing about my body to hold me back from belly dancing beautifully.

    Belly dancing makes me feel powerful. Emphasising a rhythm during a drum solo makes me feel grounded and vibrant. Veil work makes me feel like I can fly. When I’m dancing, my thickest parts become my assets and I’m not ashamed or embarrassed to fling them around. I think that’s the biggest part, really. Belly dancing helped me to not feel ashamed of my body. Belly dancing taught me that every single bit of me is valuable and lovely.

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