February is the month dedicated to love! And for this edition of Raksanna’s Remarks, the focus is on self-love in the form of authenticity.

Authenticity is commonly defined as “the quality or condition of being authentic or genuine.” Certainly, being authentic is important in our professional and personal lives … and I believe whole heartedly that this concept applies also to Oriental dance (aka belly dance).

How does authenticity apply to belly dance?  Well, I have the good fortune to travel a great deal and see dancers from all over the world. I can always tell the dancers who are true to themselves and their style, as opposed to the dancers who mimic others or imitate what they perceive is the “right” way to dance or what they think the audience wants to see.

For example, Dina is arguably one of the most recognized and famous Egyptian belly dance stars today. She has a certain style about her: signature sexiness, provocative costuming, trademark footsteps and musical interpretation. Dancers who try to mimic Dina’s style and moves exactly as Dina leave the audience with a sense of disappointment because they fall short– because the only one who can truly do Dina is … well, Dina!

So what does authenticity mean to dancers who are seeking to find their own voice in belly dance? Training and lifelong learning are a given; after all, to stop training and stop learning equals a halt in development and a downward trend in our level. (In fact, here’s an opportunity for you to learn from one of the world’s best Oriental Artists, Momo Kadous! Click on the JPG or email me for info at raksanna@raksanna.com):

In my opinion, being authentic is learning the technique, patterns and choreography from the dance masters – and then making it our own. For example, my dance style is highly energetic and I’ve been known to jump a few times. If I learn a pattern that has a hip drop, followed by a big hip circle and I add a little jump to connect the moves, I’ve just taken the pattern and made it mine with the jump.

Here’s an example of what I mean …

What does this mean to you, as a dancer? Take movements, learn the music, then put your self – your authentic self into your dance. Be the best that YOU can be … because you’ve been the best at being you for your whole life. Give your soul, give your heart and embrace the fantastic, wonderful YOU!