Belly-Burnout: What happens when you lose your mojo?

As a student of bellydance for nearly 10 years, I’ve had many moments of wanting to give up my dance, for a myriad of reasons. The past couple of years, I’ve felt my inspiration waning, despite attending retreats, intensives and teaching. There seems to be something missing from my dance at the moment which has caused me to mentally and energetically pull back and examine where my journey is headed. For the better part of ten years my mind has been occupied with Bellydance – going over choreographies and performance ideas in my head, thinking of music to dance to, finding costuming inspiration, thinking about upcoming shows/haflas/intensives/trips/gigs and keeping tabs on what everyone else is up to on social media.

So when I started feeling dread at the thought of preparing of a show, or the thought of attending a weekend of workshops exhausted me before I had even signed up, I realized that it was time to take a step back. Call it Belly-Burnout, if you will. For a long time this feeling churned inside and I felt guilty that this was happening to me, that somehow it made me a failure or a fake or someone who *gasp* isn’t as dedicated to dance as everyone else. That because I had come so far that it was too late to just stop, that I had to keep going for the sake of students and the expectations of the community, to be seen to participate and not become irrelevant or forgotten. So I pushed through, but I found that I was spending more time and energy trying to force ideas and worrying if I would be able to come up with something that I feel like that’s when my mojo disappeared.

Now, the creative process is a very interesting creature – for most of my professional career I have been employed in creative roles and for me when the ‘aha!’ moment happens, all things come into place, and I find myself re-energized and invigorated ready to explore an idea. The thing is though, the road between development of an idea and the ‘aha!’ can take anywhere from a moment to years, which for me (and I’m sure for many others) is the most difficult stage to get through. But once that moment happens, that’s where magic starts!

I haven’t had an ‘aha!’ moment in quite some time. However instead of stressing about it, I’ve thought about what else is going on in my life and where I need to direct my energy so that I can nurture myself back to a point where I am ready to feel creative in dance again. Though I still drill a bit at home, I have taken up other forms of exercise to give my body a break from what it is used to, build up my strength and stamina, and discover a different way of movement. I have started sketching again after many many years of not making the time having been so preoccupied with dance (and also full time work).

I want to love bellydance again. It’s all I think about during the day, which really indicates either a deep love or obsession. I want to be better, I want to improve and I want to continue my dance journey. But first I need to take some time out to realign and readjust so that I can be truly present and enjoy every moment. There is no shame in feeling the burnout or wanting to give up, it’s natural and normal. A teacher once told me in class that, “Bellydance is like falling in love with someone: You discover them, and they are all you think about. You can’t keep your hands off each other and every moment is exciting and thrilling. A few years later you’ve developed a deeper relationship, you might not be so hands on but you know one another inside and out. Maybe you even think maybe you’ve fallen out of love. But then one day, something happens and they remind you how amazing they are and you couldn’t imagine life without them.”

This is how I feel about dance. I think about the journey that has taken me all over Australia, the people I’ve met, how as I’ve grown as a person my dance has grown too. Losing your dance mojo doesn’t mean the end. It just means a little bit of time needs to be taken to rediscover that hunger, that desire. It might not happen right away, but I have faith that it will. And that’s OK with me.


7 Replies to “Belly-Burnout: What happens when you lose your mojo?”

  1. that is all so relate-able, although my journey has been different, i too have been suffering a lack of inspiration. it started with a rather unpleasant experience (with the behaviour and attitude towards many of her students and other performers) of a teacher which left me feeling disillusioned, and sadly affected my love and joy of the movement, leaving a bitter taste in my mouth and needing to leave those classes, and considering giving up, permanently, something which i have loved for years.
    i attended a new school and my enjoyment started to return as i remembered that this place offered what the BD community is about. women (and on occasion men) getting together to teach and learn a craft that offers both physical and psychological health as we share our love and enjoyment for the dance form (regardless of expertise and abilities).
    then injury struck and i have not been able to do any dance for about a year now. i have just started getting back into it slowly, but in my own time at home as the injury is still creating restriction on my abilities. during this time i have also put on a little weight and hit the 50 milestone so (as i’m sure many of us do) i sometimes struggle with thoughts of performing at my size and more so my age… that nasty little voice in my head “who wants to see a fifty year old rather chunky woman dance”. aahhhhh the eternal struggle of self doubt 🙂 . what i try to focus on, is who i am, and the joy i feel when i dance, that i am a woman of grace, peace and inner beauty, a loving mother, sister and daughter and lover.
    yes life is a roller coaster ride so as we each ride in our own car lets straps ourselves in put our hands in the air and enjoy the journey. and yes it is ALL ok. x


    1. Thankyou so much for sharing Sally. The great thing about being a bellydancer is that there is a huge worldwide community out there to help support and inspire you even if you’re feeling a bit down. I’m glad that you’re on the mend and rediscovering dance xx


  2. Oh my. I absolutely relate to this. I used to teach and gave up in 2009-2010 not only for personal reasons of a marriage separation but also I ended up feeling like I was giving, giving, giving to my students and forgot about MY reasons for dancing. In the end the demands of the more difficult students wore me down and I shut down physically and mentally. It was also a lesson to me that my elders are not necessarily full of wisdom but can still act like bitchy schoolgirls 30-40 years after finishing high school which was very sad.

    I still go and attend some workshops every now and then but can’t face teaching anymore. It puts me in a total anxiety attack these days. So I am slowly but surely attempting to dance again but just for me. After all, bellydance suits me and my body and I love it.


    1. Thanks so much for sharing your story Kelly. I feel a bit of anxiety sometimes about teaching, for me it takes a lot of energy and sometimes it becomes a bit too much to cope with. I hope you find your way back to dance, and maybe our paths will cross some day! xx


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