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? 

1 comment:

  1. Awww, thank you so much for the honor of sharing your name. You are a fantastic talent in our troupe and I enjoy your contributions to bellydance.