July 28, 2008

Expression. Kentucky style.

I went to a workshop with Morocco, a 68 yr old woman who has been studying, performing and teaching Egyptian (folklorish) bellydance for 50 years (!). It was a day of choreography for me--always good for my choreography-poor brain. I learned a few things about the history of Egyptian dance (danse oriental/raqs sharki/etc). Ruric-Amari peer-pressured me into performing in the evening at the show, so I had to choose my music over lunch. I was originally not interested in going to the show, thinking it would be a typical four hour bellydance extravaganza without much to write home about, if you catch my drift. While it did last four hours, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the show. There were a few outstanding pieces (Kitiera's world fusion peices, and Ruric-Amari's troupe (Samovar)'s veil peice) and several notable pieces (Odessa's fan piece, Irene's scarf piece, Morocco's pieces) as well. But there was a stretch in there where I felt like I was watching the visual, bellydance version of the radio show "Delilah"--you know the one where people call in and dedicate sappy songs to their boyfriends, and Delilah always has some 2 bit piece of advice for the listeners about growing up or love. The songs they were dancing to were ones like Chicago'sYou're the Inspiration, and other soft-rock dentist office type songs. And while I started to roll my eyes when the song first came on, as the piece continued, I found myself grinning ear to ear at the spectacle. Here was a woman who literally had the announcer dedicate the song to her husband--she gazed lovingly at her husband the whole piece, as she bounced around with a sword, interpreting the words, "You're always on my mind, in my heart, In my soul, Baby" very literally (hands to the temples; hands crossing her chest; hands down, shimmying her soul out). As the other Delilah-type songs continued, I realized what I loved about them so much. There was no ego. There was no sense of competition. She wasn't trying to be the coolest, next best, most famous thing out there. These dancers were expressing themselves for themselves, which is really what folk dance is all about. Sure they were borrowing pop songs and other cultures' regalia, but this is the mixed up country of America where we have to create/find our own identities anyway. I loved it. It was such a welcome, relaxing, low-key, and Just Fun, humble contrast to some of the 'I'm such a sex-pot/I'm too cool for you/I'm technically gifted but really just ripping off some famous person's innovation/I think I'm awesome (but I really suck)' type bellydance shows I've been to in the past several years. Happy, smiling me. It was great.
[Morocco, Samovar, the You're the Inspiration piece, the I'm in Chains piece; me, teresa, dani-rose, kitiera.]

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