On Sunday, I hung out with Laura. Laura handles toxic materials, makes beautiful jewelry, knows how to work on classic cars and is a professional belly dancer. This weekend, she sold her jewelry at an arts-and-crafts fair, and Sunday afternoon she and five women from her dance troupe performed.

I thought they were amazing, and not just because of the precision with which they can roll their tummies or the dizzying speeds with which they can shake their hips.

They amazed me even before I saw them dance. They had not rehearsed for this show. They didn’t even know when they’d be on, but they were all so calm. Laura introduced them to me as they arrived and they were all friendly, relaxed, generous with their time and attention. Ten minutes before showtime, they stood in a small group beside Laura’s jewelry booth, and she went over the play list for the first time.

It was very quick, like a quarterback calling a play, only more democratic. Everyone voiced their ideas, solos were assigned, songs were volunteered for. I listened, but they lost me about 30 seconds in, and it seemed unlikely that in just those few chaotic moments they could pull together something show-worthy. (Only a couple of the women were seasoned performers, and one had never performed publicly before.) I was nervous for them.

And then they started dancing.

There is a sort of primal grace in belly dancing, at once controlled and wild, art and chaos. I decided that the best dancers, besides being technically dazzling, were able to communicate how it feels to be truly free. It was as if we were watching them shake off (literally and figuratively) the restraints of daily life. Their smiles were radiant, joyful. Their movements were seductive in that they made me want to move too. How could I not want to? These women were busting wide open with life.

Just before they went on, Laura thanked the dancers for making time to come, for stepping out of their lives to “dance here in the moment,” she said.

I felt those words on a cellular level, a message etched in my soul. “Dance here in the moment.”

Yeah, I want to do a whole lot more of that.

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