She Said Yes! – Rachel’s Story

She Said Yes! – Rachel’s Story


I still clearly remember the first time I encountered bellydance. I remember she was beautiful, and the precision she had over her movements was absolutely amazing. I wanted to be able to dance like that.

But even then I knew we did not have extra money for me to take any kind of lessons. So I tried to put it out of my mind. Over the years, I continued to watch any performances I could catch, silently wishing I could do what they did.  But there was always something… time, money, lack of…

Then in June of 2004, I was working as a lead therapist in a day spa when one of the receptionists thought it would be a brilliant idea to jump on me while I was stretching my back. To my complete and utter devastation, in those thirty seconds, she absolutely ruined my life as I knew it. I suffered a severe injury to my spine and sacroiliac joint that left me in constant agonizing pain, and worse, fully disabled. I was 23.

After nearly five years, I decided I’d had enough of waiting. If I was going to get better, I was going to have to do it on my own.

I wrote to the listed instructor, fully expecting her to say no. But to be totally honest, I couldn’t quite help myself. Even though I knew my disability would prevent me from taking it, I still sent the email because some part of my mind still wanted so badly to learn bellydance. In the end, only one of the instructors said yes: Oreet… from the SharQuí Bellydance class. I was… unbelievably astonished. There in the email she was insisting I come in, that her class would be absolutely perfect for me, and she could help me modify the movements to my own limitations. All she asked me to do was come in early to make sure she could go over them with me. I don’t think I can adequately describe how reading that made me feel. I cried; I’ll admit that without any hesitation. For so, so long all I’d heard was no from everyone. And suddenly, here I was getting a yes to learn something I’d given up on thinking I’d ever be able to do. Now I was a hundred pounds overweight, hated seeing myself in the mirror, and couldn’t even tie my own shoes.

I finally pushed myself through that, bit the bullet, and went in for a class to meet Oreet face to face. Unlike any of the classes I’d seen or talked about with my friends, the SharQuí method she created focuses on strength, endurance, and form.  The entire hour was spent learning the foundations of each movement and focusing on full isolation. There I was, very slowly attempting to shimmy, activating muscles long atrophied from inactivity, and at the same time, getting a history lesson on the dance form itself.  By the end of the class, I was panting, sweating, already feeling my muscles protest… I was absolutely ecstatic.

With my own training in muscular therapy and injury, I’m really, really picky about the things I do. I have to be; otherwise I’ll aggravate my injury and spend a ridiculous amount of time immobile and in a great deal more pain than normal. I know the right way to do things, and the wrong way to do things, and I know how many people have no idea which one they’re actually doing. Because of that, I have so much appreciation for Oreet.  Her format has not just made it possible for me to start exercising again, but it’s given me the opportunity to do something I’ve always wanted.  I’m hoping that by sharing my story, I can help out others like me who’ve admired this beautiful style of dancing but thought they’d never be able to learn it.

SharQuí has really been just about the best thing that’s happened to me in my “quest” to get my mobility back. It’s so focused on building the strength and stamina in all the right muscle groups and hasn’t once felt like I was in danger of straining myself or aggravating my injury. Oreet is absolutely amazing for keeping us on track with our posture and the appropriate way to perform each move.  I’ve recommended SharQuí to all of my friends, to my family, and even to complete strangers in the gym.

Sure I’m still in pain. I’m still out of shape, overweight, and disabled, but now I feel like just maybe I can get those first two back under control. I haven’ felt that way in five years, and I love Oreet for giving me back that confidence and hope that even though it’s not ever going to be in mint condition, I can make my body my own. I feel alive again.

Well, maybe now I can try to work up to those really awesome flashy moves after all!

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