dance journey / dance life balance

My Belly Dance Balance Wheel


Balance Wheel from Living With Intent by Malika Chopra

It’s the new year and we’re looking forward, thinking of goals and resolutions and seeking balance in the tabula rasa that is the new calendar year. Whiling away the hours on Pinterest during the post-holiday lull in my shop, I found this graphic by Malika Chopra.  She uses this to evaluate all the aspects of her life, giving a rating for each to see which need attention.  I like that it’s a wheel and not a list, and that each feeds into the next; they are all connected.

As I was applying this to my own life, I was struck by how much dance fulfils on this wheel.

Many students take up belly dance because they want a fun way to get some exercise.  American Tribal Style is a very muscular dance and it will definitely give you a cardio boost and a natural endorphin high.

Datura Dance Company

Datura Dance Company

ATS is a group dance that will connect you with others doing that same dance, not only in the same class group, but across the world. Once you know the core movement vocabulary, you can “speak” it with anyone else who knows this language.  I have danced with women from Brazil, Russia, Croatia, Berlin, Spain, France and women from all over the UK and USA.  Simply knowing ATS has forged this thrilling connection with other dancers.  We can communicate in this beautiful way even if we don’t know the same language.  Dancing ATS, you make friends forever, and it will give you a broader sense of local and global community.

Can dance be intellectually stimulating? Of course!  This dance is improvised, so the dancer is present at all times.  We follow each other but also lead.  Evidence has shown that dancing regularly decreases your risk for dementia. Our memory of the movements is engaged and everyone must keep on their toes, keep focused and use their deep mind to connect with the music.


Introducing regular dance is your life is very freeing and trying new movements, formations and styles of music engages your creativity. The costuming, colourful and multi-layered is a profound expression of your visual self. As a group we dance to blow off steam, dance to reconnect and laugh and play.

Kamala Chaand Dance Company . Love their faces! It's not ATS without some good old backstage horseplay! We don't take ourselves that seriously.

Kamala Chaand Dance Company . Love their faces! It’s not ATS without some good old backstage horseplay! We don’t take ourselves that seriously.

Lastly, this dance has given me a sense of purpose, a way to see things through. Our moving meditation we do before we dance together is practice of gratitude, and doing it always fills me with peace.  This dance has connected me with goddesses and ancestors in beautiful ways.  In this dance, we become part of a profound legacy that spans time and space.

This video shows my teacher, Carolena-Nericcio Bohlman teaching the Moving Meditation from the Tribal Bascis DVD v. 1. 

Weekly ATS Beginners classes are held in York on Tuesdays at 6:30pm at the Melbourne Centre. For info email


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