Dance: A Discovery

Always looking for balance.

As a highschooler I didn’t go out as much as my friends or do any “crazy stuff” — at least according to regular standards of the time. My rebellion and angst came through my music choice, low-key (sometimes high-key) anger and performing music (headbanging and all, yeah man, not kidding). Oh, and also being a bit of a bitch to my family (I have apologized to my parents thoroughly since then, just in case you were worried). I used to play the guitar and then focused mainly on vocals for a long time.

To me, playing and performing music was so incredibly revolutionary because it helped me move from the shy personality I was into a more confident individual. This was a huge thing for me as a young Muslim woman from a conservative family. Of course, I still felt terribly nervous before going on stage, but I got better and better at putting my game-face on. I started from needing to take my glasses off so I couldn’t see the audience, to appreciating audience connection during my performance. I always love it when people tell me that they feel something through my art — whether with my singing or writing.

Feast your eyes on this terribly blurry image of the Resonant Hybrids from 2012 with @LouisCurry and Martin Ombura. I had so much eyeliner on (Synster Gates style) that people were actually concerned. Fun times.

On the other hand, I could never get myself to dance in public. I have always loved music and I could totally rock out…by myself…in my room.

Even during my high school prom, I went. I tried to dance with my friends. I literally couldn’t move AT ALL because I felt too self-conscious. The anxiety would take over and I couldn’t process anything. I just wanted to get out and sit on the sideline since it just felt ridiculous.

For a large part of this year, I’ve been watching dance videos. I found them mesmerizing. Some part of me was saying, 1: you’re not a dancer, 2: you’re terribly uncoordinated, 3: you’re too self-conscious for this sooo why are watching this? However, another part of me was just enjoying itself.

Even as a non-dancer, I watched the entire 17 mins 22 seconds of this workshop. Inspiring stuff.

Watching all those videos has definitely given me the confidence to express myself. I watched tons of videos, including dance workshops. It really drove home the point that EVERYONE CAN DANCE. Everyone and anyone should be able to express themselves through dance and that “being good” at it comes through practice, but is not the most essential part of it. I think this applies to every form of creative expression — just do it! Have fun with it!

Also, this year, I’ve had the fortune of having supportive people around me who make me feel safe and not judged. This is why, during the times we’ve been out, I’ve felt more and more comfortable trying to express myself through dance and it’s broken some barriers in my mind.

Urban dance has made me realize that dance can be beautiful without being sexual (which TBH is the case with most dance I’ve been exposed to from a young age. It was always in the context of some love story *eyeroll*). However, I can’t deny the very real connections formed with people when expressing yourself, together. It’s a special connection that I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing through making music.

The last time I went out dancing with friends, someone we met there who I know asked me multiple times how I can dance without having any alcohol (whispers #Haram). I found it ridiculous, but I realize I probably used to think that, maybe even not so long ago.

Now, I’m trying to slowly break the barriers within myself. Be more vulnerable. Be more confident. Own my own space and unique expression in the world, whichever form it takes.

You should try it too! What do you have to lose?! (honestly)

My parting gift to you.

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Identity, personality and relationships: works-in-progress. Join me in the unearthing of myself through my writing. Karibuni!

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Aleesha Suleman

Aleesha Suleman

Identity, personality and relationships: works-in-progress. Join me in the unearthing of myself through my writing. Karibuni!

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