What Dance Brings To My Life

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Khanda Hameed


Participating in a dance course called ”Dancing to Discover Your Core”in Sulaymaniah, in Iraqi Kurdistan in 2017 was another phase in my life. It promoted my relationships and led me to leave daily routines behind. This course gave me a chance to perform and get close to audiences which is a rebellious action for me.

Dance, for me, is such an experience that it will remain an existing experience for the whole of my life. While on the course, Karwan Omar, the choreographer treated us like we already have abilities and skills to dance. For that reason, my nervousness and stresses wentaway, andI recaptured rhythm and balance through dancing.

Here in Iraqi Kurdistan, life is stagnant due to politics, so for me, dance is a reason to live despite the ugliness, misery and difficulties which surround me. That does not mean I do not care about what is happening around me. Dance allows me to create a world that I would like to have and inhabit. After participating in this course, I feel that my psyche is much calmer and I have positive feelings about myself.

Dance gives me an active body and vitality. I love my body when it expresses my inner beauties. Dance makes me feel healthy, safe and secure. I have learned how to work with my body, respect it and give free rein to my feelings and impulse to express themselves. I have achieved harmony and balance between my body and mind.

Dance is an art which is linkedto life. It is a valuable art for life. Compared to other arts, dance and in particular contemporary dance might be the freest art, since it transgresses all routines of daily life. Contemporary dance is full of free and independent movements, but this freedom and independence doesnot exist in the Kurdish folklore dance, because Kurdish folk dance is collective. Everyone holdseach other’s hands and move aroundin a circle. Individual dancers have little opportunity to perform their movements freely. This collectivity in Kurdish folk dance represents unity, solidarity and cooperation. In Rojava and Bakur, Kurdish folk dance is an act of resistance against fascism. Sharvanan (YPG & YPJ fighters) dance after their battlesto celebrate their victory.

We need courage, adventure and beauty of dance to weaken cultural stereotypes. I like all types of dances, butcontemporary dance gives me the most joy. I believe contemporary dance is a kind of knowledge to awaken you to your bodyand to understand those stories which are performedbehind the movements of the dancer.

Contemporary dance uses the bodyin its freest form.It canremind us of the forgotten history of our bodies. Dance creates bodily awareness, which leads tomovement.Awise person’s behaviour will be under the influence of these movements. In dance,we think aboutour bodies and useour body’s rhythm and melody to be safer and healthier. Since we learn to think with our body, bad feelings which create tension in our body go away. When we are dancing every cell in our body is influenced by the rhythm and balance of the dance.In dancing nothing is impossible. Dance is something we should not wish for rather than do and practice it and stay in it. In other words, dance is created by the dancer. Dance is a space in which you should stay and discover your core. Dance is a language of the body. It is an exercise for the dancer to reach their goals.

In the end, dancers should tell their story. Gender equality is a key to dancers. In our culture, our impulses and spontaneous feelings are suppressed. We learned how to hide and silence our feelings.

Kurdish individuals are prone to endurepain rather than watch dance performances. Dance take these suppressed, unexpressed and unexamined feelings into account and find a way to express and examine them. Through dance,you feel the importance of bodily movements, and you awaken the physical body whichis ignoredin Kurdish society.

Contemporary dance serves human freedom, in my opinion. When a woman dances or we depict dance in pictures, we want to create and show a new perspective  and get out from the general representation which is shaped by Kurdish society.Therefore depicting dance or dancers differ from common traditional imagination. Here in Iraqi Kurdistan women’s bodies are not free, Kurdish individual bodies are disciplined and controlled like a woman. Therefore when a woman dances first of all her body is freed from traditional and religious restrictions.Dance is an important and influential necessity for Kurdish women’s liberation.