December 24, 2009

Mira Betz's strangest performance

Oh dear. Woke up early this morning, checked my account, saw that there was a new podcast with an interview with Mira Betz on YIP. Let me preface the rest of this story by saying: Mira is one of my dearest friends, and also one of my major dance influences. On a professional level, I admire her maturity, her depth of focus, her perfectionism. On a personal level, I love her spontaneity, her creativity, and how we feel like sisters picking at one another, supporting one another, and laughing (or crying) together at our foibles.
So, I gave the podcast a listen, to hear her voice that I miss, and to support her from afar. She gives a very straightforward interview on the types of things you would expect to hear from a famous bellydancer: her influences, what she finds important to teach, music she loves, and so on. Then, the interviewer asks her if her jellyfish piece was the strangest performance she's ever done. Immediately, my heart does a little flip flop because I'm pretty sure I know the answer. I'm kind of dreading her mentioning the piece we did back in August. To my relief, she says Buto theatre pieces are stranger than the Jellyfish Piece (which starts @ 1:09 in that link, and is a lovely homage to that gelatinous creature).
....And then, she starts telling the story about our piece back in August. I'm nervous and kind of embarrassed because it was definitely an impromptu strange thing that just sorta happened, and not something I really envisioned anyone (ha, everyone) knowing about in regards to my professional performance history. So, before I go farther, give it a listen. (Her interview starts at 27 minutes, and the story begins at 42:43).

Okay, so now that she's spilt the beans for people who weren't at Mecca that night, here's my version. The costume was the result of me just trying to get Mira out of the house, trying to get her to laugh and forget about playing the part of a proper famous bellydancer for a little bit. It worked! We even got my boyfriend in on the put-everything-on costume (what a sport).
So we arrived at Mecca, and to my bewildered amusement/disbelief, people (instead of laughing at our ridiculous costumes as I'd imagined they would) started exclaiming how amazing the costumes were, and how they couldn't wait to see what we were going to perform. WTF? The more people that said this, the less time/fewer options we had for just making a quick clothing change. And the rest, they say, is history. Here are some pictures, in sequential order, taken by Silvio Wolf Busch of the performance. Ay yai yai.

And later, Mira did a beautiful improvisation to our live drummers, holding the audience and the drummers in the palm of her hand, incredible as always.


woo said...

I love hearing both perspectives of this piece. My favorite moment is the vividness with which I could imagine your performance energy in the I listened to Mira's voice. I have always admired how much of yourself you give to a piece.

Tiffanie said...

i've always wondered about those pix. what a story!