Monday, April 4, 2011

The pregnant belly dancer dances on, part 1...

This was my big belly dance weekend, and I have lots of fun impressions to post. Not sure how many of my readers are dancers or otherwise are interested in dance, so I hope this is of interest to at least some of you!

Friday night I gathered at the dance studio with my classmates to practice for a public performance: an international student night at a local college. In a very nice development, our group has gained some interest based on past performances, and this was actually a paying gig. Sweet. We're not billed as professionals (our instructor is); we are students. However when we represent the studio she passes her fee off to us. We all pay to attend class, of course, but we also each pay for our own costuming, which in belly dance is substantial. This is why we don't get new costumes very frequently. :) So, she wants to help us out a bit to make it more affordable for us, which I very much appreciate.

At any rate, I brought my blue gown, and we ran through our numbers several times before we left for the college. For this particular performance, the organizers asked us to dance a 30 minute set. That's actually a *really long time* to be dancing. Our instructor had 2 solo pieces planned, and to fill the rest of the time, we were doing 3 full group numbers. As well, she asked me and 2 of my classmates to do a little trio we had been practicing, so I was in 4 numbers. That's a lot of dancing for a woman who is 8 months pregnant. :)

There are many things that I forget everyday; MANY. It's a wonder that I leave the house fully dressed most days. But when it comes to dance choreography, I tend to have a pretty good memory. However, Friday night I was struggling. 4 different choreographies right in a row + pregnancy hormones seemed to prove a challenging combination. I found myself forgetting steps that I've had memorized for months. It made me worry a bit, but what could I do but trust my base instincts to kick in at the heat of the moment?

Also nerve wracking is the fact that our latest group choreography uses a prop: a belly dance cane. I'm sure you can see where I'm going with this. This is not only an object over which I exert incomplete control, but as opposed to a veil, it can also actually inflict injury and/or take somebody's eye out. Thinking about our concluding fast twirling sequence was making my hands sweat, and as you can imagine, Sweaty Hands + Cane = Potential Disaster Resulting in Trip to Emergency Room or Call to Glass Repair Person.

By the time we piled into our cars to head to the event, I was actively trying to implement relaxation techniques to cool my palms. Not a good sign. Our arrival (and illegal parking jobs due to lack of spaces) heralded a new anxiety: our audience was, well, college students. And with the exception of one teenage member, every single member of our performance group is old enough to be their mothers. Including me. And I'm the second youngest member. :)

This made me even more nervous. They all seemed extremely young, confident, and potentially rowdy. I'm 36, 8 months pregnant, and stuffed into a belly dance costume. With sweaty palms and a potentially deadly weapon.

By the time we went on, I was beyond anxious. The cane number was first, which I suppose was good. It's like a band-aid, peel it off fast. It went just fine, although my twirling at the end was affected by the sweat factor. When I feel the cane slipping I can't help it; I grip it. Which impedes my twirling, but at least no one was hurt. Our instructor went out for her solo, and we waited patiently. By the time we got to our final 2 group numbers, I was sensing that not everyone in our audience was as enthralled by belly dance as I am. We certainly had our enthusiasts; a guy videotaping us on his phone in the corner, (good, or creepy? inquiring minds want to know)and some interested viewers in the seats near the front. But at the fringes, a good number of people had moved on. We were the last performers, so that certainly played a part, but it was only 9:30. At first, I thought that they were tired, but really, let's not be naive. 9:30 is late for me, but not for college students. They were obviously ready to move on to the *real party* which wouldn't begin yet for a solid hour or two, and would entail them drinking too much beer and waking up with a headache.

That actually made me less nervous. They may be young and able to consume unhealthy amounts of alcohol, but I'm doing what I love and not ashamed to do it heavily pregnant. And I don't look half bad doing it either! So there.

When we were done, I was relieved. We had one very enthusiastic fan there, a young man of Middle Eastern descent who is friends with our drumming group and has been to our haflas. He was thrilled that we were there and helped us set up our music. I could hear him trying to make converts of his non-belly dance loving friends in the background. It made me smile.

When I got home, there was no doubt about it, I was "all done in." Exhausted. I happily went to sleep and prepared for Day 2.

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