Monday, July 28, 2014

"Remember, ACT LIKE YOU'RE HAVING FUN!!" Dancing with rashes and high wind warnings...

...and so we begin another installment of Belly Dance Monday. I had a jam packed weekend of dancing, so are you all settled in and ready?

*gets tea*

Ok! This weekend I was privileged to perform with my Middle Eastern Dance troupe at an arts festival as part of a local World Dance Association. Besides us representing Egyptian dance, we had performers in Spanish, Colombian and Indian dance. As a group, we put on four 30-40 minute sets over the course of the 2 days and included an array of costumes and even some live music. Super fun. I LOVE being a part of the local dance community, it's one of the most enjoyable parts of my personal life.

But it's not without it's challenges, to be sure. :) Anytime you perform, a number of things can go wrong and, you know, publicly humiliate you. So I take my job of preparing for every possible dance scenario very seriously. :0

We'll start on Friday evening, our final rehearsal. We had to do some major restructuring of the choreographies since only 5 of us (out of a group of 9) could perform at the festival. As we readied, one of my troupemates looked in the direction of my neck, frowning:

"Are you ok?!"

Uh oh. Anytime I get sick, my extremely fair and sensitive skin deems it a duty to produce a bright red rash as my elevated body temperature dissipates. I hadn't really been "sick sick" during the week, but I did note that I may have had a touch of a minor bug. No biggie, right?

Not according to my body. By Friday evening, my neck was showing signs of rashiness. And the second day is always the worst. Which would make it the first day of the festival. Lovely.

But the only thing to do is to wait it out, so I tried not to worry, since I had zero control over the situation. Instead, I chose to worry about how my hands cramped up and turned into claws while attempting my part of the veil fan number. One wouldn't think that a wood fan with a piece of silk attached to it would make your hands ache and your arms feel as though they may seize up and fall off. One wouldn't *think*. But it was not to be, dear reader. Instead, I had to ACT LIKE I WAS HAVING FUN when I clearly was not. Heh.

By the time I got home from rehearsal, I was texting friends hourly with rash updates, as the situation was growing dire. Just before I went to bed, the rash looked ANGRY and THREE DIMENSIONAL. This was *not good*. I was hardly going to look lovely in my costume if it appeared that I was fighting some sort of fleshing eating bacteria.


I rushed to the mirror the instant I awoke Saturday morning. The rash was still there. Not exactly a big surprise, but damn. It didn't look *quite* as red and raised, but it still wasn't pretty, gentle reader. But what can a girl do? I put on my costume top. It covered a bit of the rash = good. Unfortunately, the strap also appeared to chafe my skin further, making it appear redder = bad.

Oh sigh.

Self portrait with rash.
I met up with my troupmates and arrived at the stage, them looking at my neck with concern. I was just hoping that the fact that we would be up on a stage plus my long hair would obscure the rash a bit.

Our first set involved our wings and tray balancing number, and wind is definitely a factor with such props, my friends.

 On Saturday that wasn't really an issue, although on Sunday the wind was so bad it seemed we might take flight at any moment. On Saturday, I went to grab my wing and lift it up gracefully and found a handful of gossamer fabric, but no stick that will lead to aforementioned graceful lifting. So a fistful of clutched fabric would have to do, no?

The veil fans were next, and although still painful, they didn't go nearly as horribly awry as I feared. Although...there *was* that clump of dead leaves that I discovered *on stage* making my veils stick together, that was a bit of a discreet adventure, I hope nobody had a crunchy leaf bit fly into her mouth. I just kept careful count in my head so that I would know exactly when the torture would be over and I could lower my arms again.

Then I waited a bit while the other groups danced. And sweated. Did I mention that it was hot out? Well, it was. So there was a lot of sweating involved here. And if you were wondering whether heat makes my rash worse, ding ding ding! You would be correct. :)

Cute anecdote to insert and distract us from my rash: When the Colombian dancer was performing, she was swishing her absolutely gorgeous full skirt around with her hands as she moved. Suddenly, a little girl in the 3 year old age range moved right in front of the stage. She started dancing, mimicking the dancer on stage, grabbing her little dress and swishing it to and fro with abandon, underwear blazing to the world. :0 It was SO PRECIOUS, you could hardly stand it. I think everybody was watching only her for a time, lol. That would have been my daughter had she been there, by the way. Showing her underwear to everyone seems to be an enjoyable pastime to her.

Ok, so back to our chronicle. At the end of the set, we danced two more choreographies, including our new drum solo, which is pretty kicky. I think my belt moved 360 full degrees around my body on that one, but it went well.

We had some time on our hands between sets, so we amused ourselves by taking ridiculous photos:

I love these girls. So much. :)
Those veil fans had to be good for *something*
After the break, we had a Saidi cane piece, which also involved balancing, and thankfully went well. I found this weekend that I really don't love belly dance props (veils, fans, canes, swords, trays) unless I'm balancing it on my head, ha! I'm a huge fan of balancing.

A tray of flowers makes everything better.
Sometime during the second set, I saw a woman who works down in cataloging in the crowd as I was mid-undulation. This seemed a bit awkward to me at first, but then I figured: she works in cataloging, it's not like I see her all that often. :0 She seemed bemused.

Sunday, my rash was looking decidedly better:

I even *look* happier...
But the humidity was *worse*. So much sweating. SO MUCH. So gross. We repeated the whole shebang, this time with wind added. The Flamenco dancers had a live guitar player on Sunday, which was extremely cool. But despite the wind, the canes and trays stayed on our heads. There was just the wing issue, but hey, you can't win 'em all. :)

Also, for the first time ever, I had a stranger come up to me as our group was leaving the stage who asked if she could take a photo with me. And a little girl told me that I looked like Ariel from The Little Mermaid. Apparently, the sparkly costumes attract both elderly ladies and little girls. :) My 15 seconds of fame...right there, my friends. ;-)

I had a great time, and I love, love, LOVE my dance community. I can't think of a better way to spend some free time than dancing with women who are so fun and talented. I'm already looking forward to our next performance, which is in two weeks.

How was your weekend?!


  1. You really danced your heart out! How DO you balance things on your head like that? It is really neat! (And like Cristina I also worry about tripping while being a cantor.) Love that a girl thought you were Ariel!

    I totally have been getting that same rash, on and off, for years. I had it a month ago and had to ignore it while my sister tried on wedding dresses.

    My weekend was mundane, punctuated by a funny post-Mass chat with my octogenarian neighbor. But my Monday morning was really good! (Sorry I can't say more right now.)

    1. I think it's my Type A personality - my neck and head are always rod straight or something, lol. And whew! Glad I'm not the only one with the freaky fever rash. :)


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