P1030854FatChanceBellyDance®Style is a modern style of belly dance created by FatChanceBellyDance director, Carolena Nericcio. The dance’s movements are inspired by folkloric dances of the Middle East, North Africa, Spain and India. Until March 2020 the style was known as ATS (American Tribal Style).  It is all about dancing in a group using a vocabulary of movements, slow and fast, a range of formations and cues.  This allows the dancers to communicate while dancing as there is no choreography.

It is a beautiful dance form that I found to be very empowering for women.  I stepped into it having never heard of it when my teacher started teaching it.  I found it earthy and grounding, I felt it celebrated women and their bodies.  I loved the costume too, and still do!

For more information about FatChanceBellyDance®Style, please visit fcbd.com  I also recommend looking at www.kalash-tribal.co.uk  Kelley Beeston, SSCE Instructor, has written beautifully about the history of the dance.

Please see Events page for details of classes and workshops held at En Pointe Dance Studio in York.  Thank  you.

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Teaching Philosophy: 

Picture1As your teacher I’m concerned about teaching you well, about being understood, about making your dance journey enjoyable, about you gaining confidence, about you finding joy in dancing and attending your class. As a FCBD Sister Studio I care about being good enough as your teacher and us all being good enough out there. When I have that hat on my ego takes a lot of space. I deal with that reminding myself of the lotus flower emerging from darkness into light, she is muddy then she is beautiful. I accept that mistakes are part of our journey, yours and mine, and I make peace with that. Karuna means compassion, I aim to walk the walk always and not just talk the talk, an on-going learning experience.

What’s in a name? 

Karuna, its meaning and how it became a part of our dance journey.

img001Karuna’s translation from Hindi is compassion. The dictionary definition of compassion is a “sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others”.  It helps us understand this by giving us several synonyms, including sympathy, empathy, understanding, care, warmth, love, tenderness, tolerance, consideration, kindness, humanity.  I selected these as important to me.  These are the qualities I want to see in my dance world and in my tribe.  It has not always been the case.  I find people who make derogatory and negative general statements based on someone’s race, gender, culture, religious beliefs to be quite foolish.  Human beings are all made of light and darkness.  We all have the capacity for love and to hurt, including dancers.  People hurt each other when they hurt.  I try to hold in mind people’s pain when I have been hurt, but this has not stopped me from feeling hurt, nor has it stopped me from saying hurtful things to people who have hurt me.  Forgiveness and finding peace happens through compassion, for them and for me.    I like the idea of it in our dancing.  The notion of light and dark also resonates with the lotus flower we symbolise in the Puja, beauty rising from the muddy darkness into the light.

It is not because of painful stories along my dance journey though that this name is now part of your lives too if you happen to come and dance with me.  Karuna was “given” to me.  Four years ago I attended a lovely little yoga festival somewhere in Oxfordshire.  One evening someone set up a sort of mantra meditation by the bonfire.  I went to attend and sat next to the facilitator.   She wanted to create something peaceful, quiet, spiritual and orderly.  What was happening was not what she had planned: people were chatting away enjoying the night and the fire.  She got incredibly frustrated, felt she couldn’t start chanting, and then got very annoyed with herself for feeling this way, reflecting her judgement about herself: she ought to be more accepting of the situation, more tolerant, more enlightened.  I supported her with her feelings in a way that felt completely normal to me; I guess I somehow gave her permission to feel the way she did offering reassurance, empathy, warmth and understanding.  She settled and got on with the mantra.  It was beautiful and powerful.  At the end she told me my Hindi name would be Karuna.  I looked it up when I got home.  I felt very touched and humble.  When I started classes I used the name as why make one up when I had one?  That’s the story.

Karuna is a Sanskrit word used in Hinduism and Buddhism which is used to define any action taken to diminish the suffering of others, “compassionate action”.

“When individuals experience enlightenment, they report that all beings are known as one. Therefore, it is natural to extend compassionate action or Karuna to everyone without distinction because we are all one. As we help others and aid them in their healing process, all beings benefit. Because of the oneness of all beings, it is understood that Karuna is not only extended to others out of love, but also because it is an entirely logical thing to do. In the same way that you would want to heal your own wounds, you would also want the wounds of others to heal. It is also stated in the Buddhist literature that Karuna must be accompanied by parjna or wisdom in order to have the right effect.

Karuna is the motivating quality of all enlightened beings who are working to end suffering on Earth. They continually send an unlimited amount of healing energy and guidance to us, but not all are receptive to it. As you develop Karuna in yourself, not only are you helping others, but you also become more receptive to the Karuna that is being sent by all enlightened beings. Thus your healing is quickened as well.” A sanctuary for healing (reiki articles, the meaning of karuna)

Compassion is also the quality associated with Kuan Yin (there are lots of different spellings), the Goddess of Mercy and Compassion.  I have a little Kuan Yin statue that I acquired after doing my Reiki level 2, after my Reiki Master shared feeling her presence during my attunement.  She had never experienced anything like it.  In Sanskrit Kuan Yin’s name Padma-pani means “Born of the Lotus”.  The lotus, the notion of light and dark, are here to stay.  I will keep trying to do my best to recognise and acknowledge my darkness and strive towards the light.  Together we perhaps can shine in our dance and bring Karuna to touch people around us…