What Belly Dance Changed in My Closet and Beyond
I’m often asked why I belly dance. Ukrainian by nationality, living in Canada… For some people (actually, for a surprising number of them) it is strange that I would do belly dance, let alone choose this art as my profession. The answer is extremely simple: because I love it.
We don’t choose our beloved ones. Our heart does. We only decide if we follow it or not. I chose to follow. I can’t tell why I love belly dance and everything inspired by the Orient, but I can tell a few things that I love about belly dance, and what it changed in my lifestyle… and my closet.
Through belly dance I have discovered a whole new fashion style called bohemian. And I didn’t even realize it at first. I simply wanted to bring some belly dance elements into my day-to-day life. Everything started as simply as Oriental inspired jewelry. Also, I discovered a number of dance shops that sell amazing goodies never found in big shopping malls. Whenever I travel to the Middle East for my business (i.e. dance study and performances), I’m always so excited about shopping opportunities, something that before has never really been my interest.
I also got inspired by ethnic fashion in general. Being passionate about belly dance doesn’t limit your interest to just the moves. I also became interested in culture and traditions of the Middle-East. But this time I’ve noticed that traditional outfits of any culture are extremely fascinating, and I love mixing them into daily outfits: Tibetan pants with Egyptian jewelry and French-inspired design shoes?.. Love it!
Because of belly dance I also greatly improved my make up skills. I even graduated from a professional make up school in order to learn how to do proper stage make up. No need to say that those skills got useful far beyond show preparations, lol. On another side, it’s funny to admit, but I got much more comfortable with wearing no make up in everyday life as well. I guess being a professional dancer provided me with so many opportunities to wear highly elaborate make up that I simply wanted to give my skin some rest during regular non-performance days, but it also resulted in being completely comfortable to go out without wearing even mascara. Such a funny paradigm!
And finally, belly dance changed my hair color. Yes, true! It’s a funny story related to one of my performances: I was working on a fantasy piece about a magic bird, a complete fusion exploration inspired by belly dance, and my teacher suggested to wear a bright red wig to complete the look. When I saw the photos of that performance I liked it so much that decided to change my hair color permanently, and since then I’m enjoying my red head.
It’s true that I do like creating looks for stage and beyond it: playful or serious, romantic or femme fatale. There is so much space for creativity in the dance world that it becomes a way of living. I feel absolutely blessed that I can be my own crazy genie both on stage and in everyday life. Of course, belly dance, as life itself, is much more than just how you look. But when you have an opportunity to look the way you want, doesn’t it feel great?
Author: Iana Komarnytska
Photographer: Pedro Bonatto
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