Part 5: Becoming BellaDancer & the ‘Beast

Fall 1991 — In my freshman dorm room just after I started college

March 1992
Nineteen years old

We seven dancers clump on the stairs at the side of the stage, awaiting our turn to rehearse. I don’t see why the director makes us come to every rehearsal, much less why we have to stay for the whole thing when we’re only out there for two-and-a-half minutes to run our piece.

We’re the Polynesian Dancers in this semester’s main theater production, Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. (1–3)

You’re probably raising your eyebrows as you say, “Huh? There are no Polynesian dancers in Twelfth Night. It’s set in a fictitious version of Illyria. What the bleep?”

Part 4: BellaDancer Takes Ballet (and other adventures)

Fall 1991
18 years old

I used to think I was good at dance. Now, training among real dancers for the first time in my life — dancers who have been taught by other real dancers since they were in kindergarten or younger — I feel like a one-legged ox on a tightrope. The gazelles leap and prance around me. The swans flit and float.

And then there’s me.

In the mirror — more so in their eyes, I catch the reflection of myself when I try to pas de bourrée. I’m worse at jeté, and an absolutely nightmare trying…

Part 3: My First Modern Dance Muse

“I…Isadora…hereby vow…that I will dedicate myself to the pursuit of Art and Beauty, and to the single life. I will never submit myself to any claims other than those of Truth and Beauty. Beauty is Truth…Truth: Beauty. That is all we know on Earth, and all we need to know.”
~ISADORA, 1969 movie starring Vanessa Redgrave

Photo by Leigh Photography

Continued from: *ALSO* A Belly Dancer

…As I compile the videos for this series of posts about my dance adventures, I am astounded by how deeply the threads of my Modern dance pioneer she-roes run through me. Given the brevity of my Modern training…

Part 2: Continuing Adventures in the Origins of BellaDancer & the ‘Beast

“She’s not a belly dancer! There’s more Jazz in her than anything.”

This was one of the many statements repeated around the belly dance scene for years in the attempt to damage my reputation, undermine my popularity, and get me blacklisted from the restaurants and shows where I performed amidst the aftermath of being hit by a drunk driver.

We’ll get to the successes and failures of the varied campaigns by varied individuals to boot me off varied stages later. Let’s just address this one today, shall we?

The first statement — that I was not a belly dancer —…

Where BellaDancer & the ‘Beast Began

Second Grade

From my bedroom, I hear the front door go ka-thump! I do a little jig.

Free! My fifteen minutes of bliss!

And how will I spend it? Duh, dancing!

Mom is a teacher’s aide at the school, so she has to be there fifteen minutes before I do. She told me goodbye before she left, and I pretended I was still getting ready. Nope. I’ve been ready to leave for three minutes now. I’ve just been pacing in my room, waiting to hear that I’m alone.

The second I am, I rush out to the living room…

The Unenviable Arts of Learning Hatred

Fifth Grade: Music Room

“Who just did that?” Ms. Green asks, standing up from the piano bench. “Who just hit that high note?”

I did.

I try not to blink, to move, to so much as meet her eyes. Ohhhh, please-oh-please-oh-please don’t —

She calls my name. “Was that you?”

It absolutely was.

My gaze fumbles around on the floor between the chair legs in front of me. I scrape my feet, shrug. “Um…I-I don’t know. Maybe?”

Maybe I really am a big ole liar after all.

“Come up here and sing it again.”

My eyes go huge…

A Tale About Being “All In This Together”

As I sit on my patio after having video-dinner with my parents, I contemplate one of the topics that dominated our conversation: what it will mean as the world tries to figure out how to “get back to normal.”

What is “normal”? For me, normal looks mostly the same as the past couple months. Extreme isolation, health concerns taking top priority, juggling multiple government agencies, and feeling like it’s a triumph to simply not lose the claw-hold I have while eking away at Baby Steps. *shrug* SOP.

How long can we keep this up?

Last week, I had to venture…

On Reaching for the One-Ring

Photo by Juan Pablo Arenas

Fourth Grade
Fall 1981

There is an open spot in Queenie’s court. Princess is on the outs. (Again.) I know this because she called me and asked to play over the weekend — Suzy, that is. Of course not the Queen. The only time Princess ever calls me anymore is when she’s been flung out in the cold. And here in Minnesota, it gets way below zero! But I can always be counted on to be nice to her.

I was. Like always, when it’s just the two of us, she was nice back.

Now it’s Monday and she slinks…

Sticks & Stones, Love — But Words Can Do Deeper Damage (especially the ones we strangle in our throats)

Ah, the difference 2 years can make. (Although I‘ve never lost the Spock eyebrow.)


“Teacher comin’! Teacher comin’!”

A bunch of kids run back to their seats, giggling. Not me. I did as I was told. Mrs. Erickson said to stay in our seats, so I did. Becky never does. Now neither does Suzy. She used to be my best friend after Johnny, but ever since we came to school, now she’s mean to me, too. She used to only be mean when the big kids were around, but Becky must have told everybody how they chase me through the woods and wreck my forts. …

Getting Back Repressed Memories Amidst Isolation

Me: 3 months old, staring at my favorite lamb…

February 26, 2001, 7:32 a.m.
28 years old

My eyes pop open as I gasp.

I stare at the white ceiling of my bedroom. Unblinking. Chest rising and falling in hard, steady breaths. In and out through my nose. In and out. In and out.

Eventually I get up. Go pee. Walk into my office. Sit down at the computer and turn it on. Open up a Word document.

I stare at the black flashing cursor on the white page.

I stare at it for a good hour.

Jittery. Disturbed. The morning light comes in gray today, filtered further by…


I dance. I write. I fight. Often I do them at the same time. The dance world knows me as Isidora Hart. Alexx is my pen name. Port of Entry:

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