Monday, March 23, 2015

What's in a Name?

When I signed up for my first belly dancing class last year, there was a line on the form that asked if I had a dancer name I would prefer to go by.  As an ex-Mormon and currently practicing Pagan, I'm familiar with the concept of using names to show commitment or a kind of rebirth.  As a writer, though, names are sort of the bane of my existence.  I always stress over what to call my characters because I want the name to be dripping with meaning.  And it has to sound right, too.  I fancy my audience will understand-just from her name-that my protagonist is a strong, fierce woman with a sweet sensitivity that makes it just a little bit hard for her to be a bounty hunter.  Or whatever.  (I've never actually created a charcter like that, but you get the idea-right?)  When one self imposes that kind of pressure to find just the right name, names begin to get stressful.  I think the only time I didn't get unduly worried about a name was when I was pregnant with my daughter and that's just because I already knew who she would be named after. 
Naturally, as soon as I saw that ominous line on the registration form, my mind began racing.  About 5 seconds later, I opted to leave the line blank.  I was too busy worrying about my first belly dancing class to invest the time and energy I knew I would want to invest when it came to choosing a dancing name. And honestly, I didn't know how long my foray into belly dancing would last.  Maybe I wouldn't need to worry about it and I could go back to figuring out what to name my 18th century constable in vampire infested London.  (That one is a real character.)  
Fast forward to several months later and I realized it was probably time to give myself a belly dancing name.  When I was asked to join a performing troupe I knew I really wanted to commit.  Dance had become such a major part of my life and in a way, I did feel reborn.  Rising from the ashes kind of reborn.  But every time I tried to come up with something, it just seemed off somehow.  None of those gorgeous Arabic or Greek names seemed to fit my personality either onstage or off.  I was leaning toward something Nordic, but again I couldn't seem to find anything that fit.  I did find one name that I ended up loving...but it seemed a better match for my daughter.  I asked advice from my literary friends and was given some great suggestions, but the ones I really liked were in use locally.  
And then, it fell into my lap: Disa.  Norse for "spirited."  In Greek, it means "double or twice" which makes me think of both my daughter (who is very much a little double of me) and my life after divorce.  The root of the name, Dis, is Nordic for goddess.  And also the name of Thorin Oakenshield's sister, (the mother of Fili and Kili) for all you fellow Tolkien fans. That tickled me right down to my nerdy little Hobbit toes. But the best part is that my teacher's name is Heidi.  So, the last part of her name gets incorporated into my dancer name. Disa. It is perfect for me.  And it came when I least expected to find it.  So I guess the moral of my story is, the right dancer name will just come to you.  How did you come by your dancer name? 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Allow Myself to Introduce...Myself

A smidge over a year ago, I VERY nervously attended my first belly dancing class. I wasn't sure what to expect but I don't think I ever imagined that a year later I would be part of a performing troupe and that belly dancing would become such a huge part of my life.  Even more surprising was that my daughter would also become involved as well.  It has been great for me, great for her, and great for us together.  Since writing is a huge part of my life as well, I decided to convey my thoughts about this journey my daugher and I have started into the art, culture, and spirituality of belly dance.
Manners would dictate that I introduce myself and my daughter.  As a writer and student filmmaker I always find the life stories of people to be fascinating.  Likewise, I realize that it may be a bit boring to some so feel free to skip ahead.  :)
I was born and raised in Utah.  The oldest of four children, my parents always encouraged my vivid imagination and interest in dance-particularly ballet.  Additionally, I was given the opportunity to study tap, jazz, gymnastics, and modern dance as well as things less exciting to me such as softball and piano.  I continued to study ballet and modern into my college years and also a bit of flamenco and ballroom.  In a non-dance sphere, I have also studied literature, history, and film.  I was married for 7 years and during that time I had the opportunity to live in Florida and Rhode Island.  My ex-husband and I have one child together.  My pregnancy was difficult-the labor experience even more so.  But it was all worth it to have my beautiful Willow in my life.  Her father and I divorced when she was 18 months old.  Although my ex-husband and I are still on good terms, he lives on the East Coast and Willow and I are back in Utah.  I'm very much a single mother and it's difficult.  But also a lot of fun and it's good to be near my family.  My life has not taken the shape I thought it would and there have been some very difficult times.  But I'm a better person for all of it.  And I hope it has made me a better mother.  Willow is 8 years old now.  She too has studied ballet, jazz, and gymnastics.  She is also a talented little artist, actress, and writer.  She appears to have inherited my wild imagination and love of books and movies.  She started belly dancing about 6 weeks ago and has become as excited about it as I am.
So now that the introductions have been made, let's begin!