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December 08, 2016
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Dancers of the Dawn

Jarin Weinstein, named Suraya (star), had studied various forms of dance under the guidance of several teachers, but felt that Sabah had something different to offer. “When I met her, she was transmitting the dance. It was unique and authentic. She transcended what the body can offer by using her own energy to bring in a new dimension. That’s where the self-transformation springs from. It’s a blessing to dance with other women in an environment where it’s safe to see their beauty and not be threatened by it.”

The ongoing experience has transformed Sabah too. “I was always a lone ranger in my work, but I’ve been discovering the potential for camaraderie and how women help each other when barriers are removed. I thought I was courageous because I was a loner. But I was actually too terrified to open up to friendship on this level of interaction. I come in to teach a class, but I walk out being taught.”

Suraya agrees. “The women have taught me that it’s okay to be strong and to feel powerful, to be bold and to stand up for yourself. In our society, we’re not taught what a real woman can be, all the possibilities.”

A special bond

Sabah has taught around the world, but says there is an unusual bonding here that arises from trying to reach personal goals together in an environment that is supportive rather than competitive.

“When there’s no competition, you can just be yourself,” explained Suraya. “There’s no better feeling than self acceptance, because you’re going to accept the next person in return. Then you can see that on the street because you now know what you’re looking at—the sparkle in a woman’s eye, the smile on her face, how she chooses to adorn herself and what kind of clothes she wears.”

“It’s become somewhat of a sisterhood,” said Dounia. “The dance itself promotes freeing oneself. Inhibitions evaporate. It’s a wonderful form of release. I leave my problems at the door and I leave here on a high.”
Jehan initially decided to attend the class to rehabilitate from a back injury. “I didn’t know that part of the experience would be about letting go and opening up, she said. “It’s very freeing.”

The women help one another in various ways, from developing
costumes to providing support through personal crises such as depression, the death of a loved one, physical ailments and more.