It's raining outside and my black umbrella is hanging like a bat in the corner, and I wonder why the word haiku always makes me think of the rain and cherry blossoms.
This week starts a new class session, and I'm now teaching two classes, the Saturday monrning beginning bellydance and a Thursday night beginning level 2 class. For the level 2, I think I need to review the basic isolation moves (maya, taqsim, camel, hip circles, horizontal 8s) that I teach in the beginning class, and then add to them, with level changes and traveling steps etc. Last night was the first class, and three of the students had expected the previous teacher to still be there, but they hid their disappointment, and by the end they seemed to truly enjoy the class. I saw smiles on everyone's faces by the time we left. I also asked if there were things the previous instructor did that they really enjoyed doing, and the two things mentioned will be easy enough to incorporate into the lessons. After class, S & I went out for dinner in celebration that he was accepted to the master's program in historic preservation at the U of O. He starts in the fall.
I've been busy and a dancing fool lately. My parents came for a whole week and it was such a whirlwind of activity I don't feel like I saw them enough. I know S, who was home all day for three days with them, doesn't share the sentiment, but he's wonderfully tolerant and does genuinely like his in-laws (although the morning they left, he revelled in the quietness of the house and the absence of busy-ness, along with my cat, who tends to hide while the parents visit).
My parents were able to see me perform, finally, and my new costume has been broken-in. It's a dark burgundy two-piece cabaret-style slinky thing encrusted with white and black jewels and black sequins and beads. It is heavy and adds a refined element of elegance. It exaggerates my shape, and fits like a glove, and I do mean tight in all the right places. With Mom's last-minute help I fixed the top and the little gauntlet gloves. I've done two big shows this past week, both of them were standing-room only, with wonderful crowds. The show on Saturday I was the evening's featured performer in a line-up of five other dancers. The whole show was amazing. I got compliments on my "mean shimmy" from two other dancers I respect very much. I even pulled off my first drum solo, which is not easy because the drummer is, um, well, shall I be tactful and say "unpredictable"? But I did it and it worked great! Boom boom! Hooray! I liked it a lot. I also liked it that Shell & I nailed our duet-- it was a lot of fun & ended too fast-- we finished, and ran away to the little dressing room, and people started stomping and pounding on the tables. They yelled and whistled and called us back out for an encore, so we went out & worked our way around the tables. That is FUN! I was nervous about dancing around the tables at first but people really dig it when dancers pay attention to them. I'm so glad my folks finally got a chance to see me dance-- it made a difference to me to have them there.
Wednesday I danced with a different band in a different venue. There were a lot of people that came right at 9 o'clock, when the band started playing. My folks & S & I got there early & found a table up front, & Shell & I swept the cement floor in front of the stage (oops-- no rug! But that's okay, I'm always afraid of catching my foot on the edge. The tablah player said forgetting the rug was a hazard of not having a dancer in the band. Neither R, the other dancer, nor I did any floorwork, so it was no big deal at all). And while I don't mind the dim lights, the complaint a few people had was the lighting in the place-- there's no light on the dancer, & since only the people right up front have a full-body view, it's hard to see. I asked them to turn on the disco ball, yeah baby.
I am very happy with my performance; the traditional song Zeina was a crowd-pleaser. The slow Traveling song was curious... I went into it resigning myself to lose the crowd's attention, so I did some veil work halfway through, but I think I could have gone without the veil. I didn't lose their attention, and I surprised myself. Wow what a change in the crowd's emotion I could feel; Zeina makes people smile and clap, and Traveling makes them sit still and just watch. While I was dancing I thought I had lost their focus, but no, all eyes were still on me. I looked at the sea of faces and their souls were in their eyes, very reflective, lost in thoughts and listening to the somber, sensual rhythm of the oud. It took me a minute to realize, and I felt doubt until I realized, that people weren't smiling simply because it's not a smiley kind of song, and it's okay they weren't smiling because they truly enjoyed the fluidity and graceful slowness of it, and they weren't bored, and only the people far in the back of the room at the bar were talking. I haven't ever danced with music like that except playing around at home-- I liked it a lot. The band played Firedance last, and I went once around the tables, back to the front, blew kisses, and ran away! Wheee! JJ helped me out of my sweaty costume-- we wrestled with the gauntlets, which were almost adhered to my skin from the sweat. She hugged me and then disappeared for the evening.
The place was crawling with friends I haven't seen in a while and lots of bachelors-- what a great crowd! Very respectful, and I heard many kind & thoughtful compliments. At the end of the night I had one fellow (well into his cups of beer) take my hand, call me lady, and tell me, "Your beautiful dancing transcends your soul," and then he kissed the back of my hand. He had scratchy whiskers. Momma gave me flowers, two dozen purple irises. I think I need to make a costume that purple color with gold. The best reward was from my S, who always knows how to look at me and shows his love for me in his eyes.
R had a fantastic performance, too. She threw her silk veil at me, which tickled me! She then did a neat little improv with an Algerian man and the crowd loved it. They shook the house, and he danced dressed in a black leather vest & big billowing heavy black pants and black boots, twirling tassels and a knife and doing great stomping rhythmic stepwork and shoulder-shimmies. They played a sweet coquettish little chase-me kind of game and took turns doing center-stage stuff. It was neat to see a man dance (and not wearing sequins and purple spandex leggings, if you know what I mean). R finished her set with that wonderful timing and clarity of motions that make her so much fun to watch. She was hot on the drum solo and then wowed us with a dramatic ending. I hope she does well in her dance work up in Canada-- she's a neat performer and I think she has so much potential.
My parents enjoyed it, and Dad commented on how there seem to be two types of performance (we saw two dancers on Saturday who he said were wonderful dancers, but to him it seemed more like bar-room dancing, and he didn't mean that as an insult at all, I think it was his way of saying they vamped it up and were overtly seductive in their motions). He thought my dancing, and R's on Wednesday night, all fall under his category of "artistic," and that made me happy. I think it is a beautiful art form, I don't intend to seduce anyone except S, and I don't want my father to feel uncomfortable watching me dance. It is always interesting hearing people's observations.
Tomorrow starts the new session for beginning students, and I hope to see some familiar faces plus some new smiles. I have butterflies of happy hope.