Community Update

World Pulse Toolkits Available!

At World Pulse, we recognize the need for ongoing learning—for you and for your community! Our toolkits are all available here.

We are especially excited to share our signature Citizen Journalism and Digital Empowerment Curriculum. Start learning today!

Healing thru Dance: Grooving in the Shadows


At six months old, I learned to walk. They said I looked like a living doll, so small but moving like a sized-down adult. I was petite for my age, charming, and bright. At a year old, I went to court with my parents to make my adoption legal. My mother waited in the courtroom. They told her I would be with the judges for 15 minutes. An hour later, the judges brought me back, explaining that I had entertained them, dancing on the table and singing.

Pictures of my young childhood tell the story of an active little girl. My skin is a healthy olive color from playing in the sun. But in the third grade, something changed. My eyes seemed more vacant, and my body began to take on more weight. I went from being one of the smallest children to the largest. I no longer took dance lessons or danced with my parents. When I did, I saw the same in their eyes. Somehow the weight created a barrier to the world of dance.

In high school I dated, and then eventually married, a non-dancer. His mother had a dance troupe which I secretly wished to be a part of. Bellydance and hula. I feel like I am made to do them. As a young girl, I could make my tummy roll. It seems innate. But like a frustrated lover who yearns for her desires to be indulged but is put off, I was always pushed away. I could be part of the troupe, if I emceed or carried equipment. Only the thin girls danced. Didn't they know that these dances were made for roundness?

After my divorce, I met a woman as round as I was round. She taught dance classes in a small portion of the larger community I live in. They were more than dance classes, really. They were fall-in-love-with-your-body classes and discover-the-sacredness-of-movement classes. I would often sink into tears during the dances. I could feel myself coming home to a place in my life I had pushed away.

The reasons were both simple and complicated. Why does any woman begin to hate her body? Because we are taught to, because we have had our protecting voices silenced, because they are powerful instruments of creation?

One week while in the small bohemian community nestled within my South Texas town, I danced 19 hours and wished for more. It is a feeling I will never forget. I understood things about myself that I would never have understood without the dance. I knew about my flesh, my spirit, community, ancestry, and about my genuine self.

After a year or two, our small community went through a big change. Many of us moved away or found our own paths. I grieved not only the loss of community but the loss of the opportunities I had had to dance. I became overwhelmed with finding an equilibrum. My body habits changed, and then my body did. I put the dance away.

My body has suffered, as has my spirit. In saying this, I struggle with the idea of body acceptance. Self-love and self-care have been the touchstones of this last year's journey. I never realized how twisted the thinking about my body had become. Layers of hate, distrust, abuse and disgust buried the peacefulness I am learning to uncover. Can I love my body as it is in this moment? At this weight? In this condition? After what it has been through, after what I have done to it and made it do? The answer is yes. AND, I know my body wants more. Nevermind what my culture....what society wants....nevermind what the media says or what I assume others think. My body and spirit long to move and be moved. They are lovers that live within the context of my existence. Married to one another in a way, but sleeping apart. Recently though, I feel them longing for one another again.

Allowing myself to dance, encouraging myself to move, rarely just comes easily. There is stigma about moving a round body. It takes courage to take up more space than what is the cultural norm. And what if someone sees something jiggle where they believe no movement would take place?! These are the struggles that play out in my unconscious, right beside the wish to move.

I have connected once more with my dance friend. She is pregnant now with her husband away in the service. I have asked her if she might like to meet to move. We have plans to meet soon.

As I write this, I have a new awareness of dance for me at this time of my life. I recently turned 40 and have made a decision to no longer try to give birth to a child. In a year, when I am out of school, my husband and I will carry on what has become a tradition in both of our families. We will adopt. I am very satisfied with that decision. And at the same time, I grieve for never having the opportunity to experience pregnancy or childbirth. When I look out through the years of my life, I am amazed that I have no children.

People do not know what to do with a childless woman. Recently, I have become aware of the stigma involved, as well as the plain blindness that exists. Women are made to be the belief. So people assume we are. And if we are not, they just don't know what to do with us. I believe this will change as people take more responsiblity for the planet and its children. And as we realized that every person has their own unique path.

Ahh, but back to my awareness. I know that childbirth is a form of creativity. And the body becomes its instrument. In practicing dance, I believe I can give my body a means to its innate desire to create. But instead of creating a child, I can create movement, nuance, emotion, story and perhaps the most important thing, healing.

This is my own personal advocacy of self. A demonstation of free will and self-expression. I will move the fleshiness of my body...not to lose weight or to exercise, but to become a priestess to the holy union of body and spirit for the sacred right of re-creation. To reclaim a part of myself which has been hidden away, secretly waiting just out of sight, grooving in the shadows.



Fairy Red's picture

Right on, girl!

I, too, have found a sort of pleasure in dancing, even though I'm a bit on the plump side myself. Dancing is one of the best ways for one to express themselves, and I thank you for encouraging others to do the same!

Every time you smile, you make the world a better place. :3

JaniceW's picture

Love your picture

Rae, you need to make that image your profile picture as the elation you radiate is so beautiful. I smile whenever I look at it. I am so happy that you have found us as I can see that you will bring a joyous sense of self-expression and confidence to the community. Please come out of the shadows and invite us all to groove with you, as we dance together in celebration of the goddess inside all of us.

I would also like to introduce you to some members who have found expression and peace through dance. I encourage you to reach out to them and add them to your friends list. You can do that by clicking on the "add to my community" button under their profile picture. Best wishes and I look forward to reading more from you.




Leela Francis

Rae's picture

Thank you!


Thank you for your means a lot. I did spend sometime last night trying to save the picture to my profile. I saved it but the sizing was wrong, so it chopped off my head. I resized it manually and even tried to save a different picture, but it keeps sticking me with the original picture and chopping off my head. I am able to have the default icon, but nothing else works. I delete the orginal pic and try others but no luck. Perhaps it is a glitch.

Also, in looking to add friends, I have not been able to find the add to my community button under their profile. It doesn't show up for me.

I am not worried. I figure there is some temporary set back in the system that will get worked out. Or maybe I am just missing something. :)

As for your support...again, thank you. I will keep up with your list of dancers. I am enjoying this community.


JaniceW's picture

Yah, your picture is up!

Re friending, you need to be logged in to be able to add someone to your community. But on the other hand, it also could be a glitch. We'll check it out tomorrow. In the meantime, I'd love to add you to my friends.

Maria de Chirikof's picture


Isn't it amazing the power dance has? How alive you feel? I love seeing my daughters dance more. I am so happy for you that you found yourself again. It can happen so easily in school where a teacher saying something about you can't do it because you are a girl or a boy making an ill-timed sexual joke and the effects can be so devastating. It is great that you are overcoming that and reclaiming yourself and your body.

I think this is like the 6th or so one I have read this last month or so that features dance as a passion. Maybe it is a side-effect of woman taking back their own voices and their own bodies and their own destinies.


Magazine »

Read global coverage through women's eyes

Letters to a Better World

Letters to a Better World

Community »

Connect with women on the ground worldwide

PAKISTAN: In the Name of Honor

PAKISTAN: In the Name of Honor

Campaigns »

Be heard at influential forums

WWW: Women Weave the Web

WWW: Women Weave the Web

Programs »

Help us train women citizen journalists

World Pulse Voices of Our Future

World Pulse Voices of Our Future

Blog »

Read the latest from World Pulse headquarters

World Pulse Launches our Inaugural Community Advisory Board!

World Pulse Launches our Inaugural Community Advisory Board!

Partners »

Join forces with our wide network of partners

Nobel Women's Initiative

Nobel Women's Initiative