Belly dancers of color: Kyomi
Editor’s note: It’s Black History Month and I thought that a great way to celebrate would be to feature belly dancers of color in our community. Our goal is to celebrate our differences and similarities in belly dance and I was curious as to how the belly dance experience is different (or the same) for dancers of color. If you’re interested in joining us for this month-long project, just contact me using the form at the bottom of the page.
The second dancer that we are featuring is Kyomi from Baton Rouge, LA. ~ Andalee
In February 2009, I was on the beginning of a brand new journey toward self-discovery and self-love. Honestly, I didn’t think belly dance had a place for me. After all, I had never seen anyone that looked like me belly dancing. Despite initially feeling like an outsider in the belly dance world, I didn’t let it discourage me from pursuing my interest in this dance form.
I had always been curious about this art form. I took jazz in high school and African dance in college, so I wasn’t a stranger to exploring different forms of music and dance. So I stepped out of my shell and took one class. My instructor Christina was so amazing! She played “Little Egypt” in the Broadway musical, “Sugar Babies.” I learned about stage presence and connecting with your audience. I could go on in detail about what I experienced but the bottom line is this: I learned Turkish style belly dance with attitude.
When I told my mom, her initial thought was, “Okay, you are taking a class.” But after one year of moving from a beginnes class and learning choreography to eventually taking a performance class, I was told, “I raised you in the church. What are people going to think when they see you dancing up there?” Belly dancing was a sub-culture that no one knew about in my family of Guyanese heritage.
I knew that when I heard the music and the drums it took me to a place of peace. I felt connected to the music and the movements. The sensuality and history of the dance moved my spirit to practice every day, so I continued on my journey and found a place for myself in the belly dance world, and in the spring of 2010, at Jebon in New York City, I did my first solo performance.
My passion and zeal for the dance has moved me to continue on this path. Belly dance makes me happy, joyful, and it allows me to tell a story. Belly dance is a hobby that I embarked on that I do with passion, and that I can depend on to pull me through even in my lowest moments. It has brought me through so many things and has never left me.
Although, I am no longer the beginning belly dancer taking “a leap of faith” in the dance world, I am still a work in progress: learning from others, teaching, and perfecting my craft. In the words of Rumi: “ Dance, when you’re broken open. Dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you’re perfectly free.” That’s why I dance!
Contact Kyomi at email@example.com.