changing lives through dance
Can you imagine what it’s like to be in fear of your life from your partner? To be hit, burned, punched and told you’re ugly and worthless on a regular basis.
Can you even begin to imagine how it must be to have been sold into slavery as a child, brought to the UK as a domestic slave and never to have had a day off work in your life? Can you imagine never having had a moment of fun for yourself, to have only slept on the kitchen floor, and to be beaten if you raise your eyes when spoken to by your ‘owner’?
Maybe you can imagine the trauma of being told you have terminal cancer, and how it might feel to lose your breasts, your hair and your dignity as you’re poked and prodded and put into machines.
Now imagine you can help to give women who have suffered such trauma some fun in their lives – dancing to lively music, shaking their shoulders, swinging their hips and laughing as they shimmy and sway in the company of other women just like them.
Company of Dreams teaches free, weekly bellydance classes in women’s refuges, rape support groups, hospices and organisations supporting victims of slavery and trafficking. Our work is changing women’s lives, helping raise their self esteem and body confidence and giving them a little joy and fun to take their minds off what they’ve suffered.
Bellydancing has a powerful ability to promote physical and mental wellbeing, particularly among women, for whom it can help tap into their sensual, feminine side.
Women who have poor body image or damaged self esteem or self confidence for a variety of reasons benefit in particular from learning to bellydance. For example women who have been affected by abusive relationships, including domestic abuse and women recovering from cancer treatment that affects body image (ie mastectomies, hair loss) report that bellydance has helped them enormously.
How does it help?
The reasons for the beneficial effects are manifold and seem to be fairly unique to the dance form. Firstly it is a solo female dance and most bellydance classes are women-only, thereby creating a safe space for women, away from the male gaze. Secondly, the dance embraces all body types and a woman doesn’t need to be young, supple or fit to begin bellydancing. Furthermore, the moves of bellydance – shaking the shoulders, moving the hips, undulating the torso – are rooted in the female body and feel very natural to a woman. Finally, the format of a bellydance class seems to encourage very supportive and sociable behaviour amongst women. And they’re fun!
Bellydancers climb Mount Snowdon for us!
London bellydancers Saffron and Sophia climbed Mount Snowdon and raised over £1,000 for our work! At the top of the mountain they bellydanced for joy with our flag and here’s the video to prove it!
What do people say?
“Taking bellydance classes is the best decision I’ve ever made. I had major body and self-confidence issues that were impacting on my day-to-day life. Learning to bellydance has made me realise that womanly curves should be celebrated and it has boosted my self-confidence. It’s connected my mind with my body, in a positive way, for the first time. The classes also helped me to cope with a recent bereavement, it gave me a focus and the ‘feel good’ factor of the classes, and bellydance itself, helped me through an extremely tough time.”
“After surgery for a double mastectomy I felt very angry with my body for letting me down and viewed it as ugly and disfigured. It’s easy to disassociate yourself from your body in those circumstances but bellydance helped me to reconnect with my body through the movements, which felt so good to do. This helped to restore my confidence and self esteem.”
“For me, bellydance taps into a part of me that is feminine, fluid and sensual. When I dance, I love my body and the way it moves and from that, I’ve gained in confidence about my body generally.”
“Bellydancing has tremendously helped me mentally, physically, medically, socially and every other way, shape and form you can think of.”
“It has helped so much with my confidence about my body shape, I now appreciate my womanly curves, it seems this is what they were made for, and I’m quite happy to show them off!”
“In some ways I feel as if my self esteem has improved so much that I feel guilty for allowing myself this happiness.”