I just got back from a convention of bellydancers, The East Coast Classic, run out of Hampton Virginia by Nadira Serenity. I came out of hours of class a day, no sleep, a five hour show, competing in front of some luminaries of my art, with, as Frank Farinario said “too many feelings”. The overwhelming feeling right now is pride in the dancers and our dedication. Bellydance is full of non-professional dancers, vets, paralegals, hairdressers and writers who dance on the side. They make their own costumes or have a troupe mate who does. They practice in the evenings or mornings, drive long distances, earn little to no money doing this art form. They are self-starters and work the thankless task of being glamorous for the stage. Some are preserving folkloric styles of dance, some are consciously evolving the dance in unexpected ways. It’s a big world and I’m so proud of all the people in it.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am a work-focused dancer. I train hard to be strong and articulate and value advancement. I set goals, and drill to attain them, but after over a decade of being a bellydancer I have encountered a new stage in my relationship with dance, the good feelings I get from it and why I do it. I am now past my point of being my strongest, spending the most time training (I used to train at least 30 hours a week) doing the most performing, and evolving my fastest. That time of total focus and dedication is in the past for me, or maybe looming in the future. For now I have a kid, and two day jobs. I can’t focus as much on dance. At first it was hard to keep going or feel comfortable dancing without the momentum generated by total focus on the dance, but I have found that I have experienced an interesting shift. I am dancing more just to dance and with my less goal-oriented (Must get ready for this show! Must have costuming done!) practice, I enjoy it more. The creativity is more gentle, more natural. Since I am just dancing, things flow out of me and I am making more authentic art. As a performer I have always enjoyed working with the parameters given by a particular show, because it gives me ideas that I would not have come up with on my own, but now that […]
Well, after months of viruses and hacking and mental fatigue preventing me from being here, I am back due to the good graces of my friends, who got my computer fixed when the pros couldn’t. I am coming off a fabulous weekend at my good friend Onca Oleary’s festival, the Asheville Americana Burlesque and Sideshow Festival. (www.Absfest.com, look it up, its a good time) As a belly dancer I find the burlesque and side show communities very interesting and fun to be with. Belly dancers are very bookish, we work hard on it and it is a virtue. We know about cultural particulars, evolution of the dance, and history. The burlesque and sideshow folks are similarly well informed, but their performances have a pop that belly dance can sometimes lack. Belly dance is subtle and often an art only appreciated by a truly informed connoisseurs. That is part of the nature of it, not being native to America the dance form is not often in front of our eyes, and many people don’t know how to appreciate it. We can all tell a good ballerina, but often good belly dancers go unnoticed at public events, people just lack the understanding of how hard the art is or the ability to see past the “wiggling hips”. The art form is also often not focused on “reaching out” to the audience, and creating performances that are accessible to the untrained eye, and educating people on good belly dance, but we are getting […]
Tell me your goals. What do you want out of dance? Why are you in this studio? What do you need from me as a teacher? I do not have a set program that will make you a dancer. I am here to offer my skills and some structure to help you practice. I do not think that my art is better than yours, maybe just more practiced. If you are a dancer in your heart, you need to find the door to open your heart and let that dancer live in all of your body, and move you always. This dance can help you heal from emotional insecurity, physical pain, and create a new confidence and comfort in yourself. There are no criteria for you to meet to dance, just do it. You may not be able to dance in the way you want at the beginning, but if you don’t start trying you will remain uncompleted, with a dream waiting to erupt into your conscious world.
I’ve been asked that question or interactions of it by all comers. My old school southern aunties, strangers I pass on the way to a gig, event producers, the audience, everyone has an understanding of belly dance and “what it is”. When asked that question, I usually start off by clarifying that I do not do traditional dance of any one culture. There are specific ethnic or cultural dance forms that are very defined and refined. I do not do any of them. I feel that it would be disrespectful to pretend that I am Moroccan and present myself as a Moroccan dancer, however studied I became in the form of Moroccan dance. I’m not Moroccan and lack the subtlety that comes with growing up or immersing in a particular culture. The ethnic and regional dance forms have gotten lumped together in America, where even our cultural enclaves are in close quarters. Often in big cities where immigrant communities congregate they are side by side. Chinatown next to Little Italy. Syria Street one right turn off an intersection from Egypt Alley. Older dancers I have talked to have related that they had to learn cultural specifics quickly to avoid being rude when moving from culture to culture in those enclaves. I don’t have access to the proper information to do that, my town does not have much “source material” in the form of native dancers. I do have a world of American-bred belly dance teachers that have good grounding in […]
Up and running! Mostly. Well, folks, I am not the most tech savvy person, and this page is, by definition, a work in progress. Much thanks to the wonderful Mab Just Mab, the DC Sideshow Girl (who keeps it real in our Nation’s Capital, someone’s got to) for her help and tutorial on this electronic endeavor. I have many opinions to share and rants to let loose. There will be information about politics, bellydance, love, health, and the environment here. They all intertwine. I’m sure I will frustrate you, piss you off, or otherwise convince you that I am an idiot, a genius or not suitable for children. At least I hope so. Upcoming….. My rundown of dancing at Riverfest 2013 with my Found World Bellydance lovelies, and ruminations on culture and Americans as participants in the global cultural buffet following Crossroads and Origins in Atlanta with the magical Amel Taftsout and Artemis Mourat.