Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Of airborne veils & balanced swords under STRICT instructions to behave - it's a belly dance post, part 2!

Hello to you all, and welcome to part 2 of our dance-fest this week (for those of you who care about such frivolity ;-)). And thank you to those who do! I certainly enjoy writing about this subject, it's very fun for me. Part 1 is here, so let's get on with the dancing!

I think I left off with the fact that on Saturday I was nervous. ;-) Yes, yes I definitely was. And so I did what I could in the morning and early afternoon to stave that off by thinking positive thoughts. Sword and I practiced one last time. Anne helped me get my costume ready and my veil steamed free of wrinkles. I made sure my iPod and speakers were all charged up. I distracted myself well and good by raking leaves with Mike and the kids.

Around mid-afternoon, the kids went over to their grandparents' house to help them with a basement painting project and to order pizza. I made my final preparations, and then tried to put it all out of my mind. By that point, there was nothing else I could do. I had put myself in as good a position as I could to succeed. I had to just hope and pray for the best.

And this time, I did in fact remember to pray. Mike was coming along with me, and had to stop to put gas in his car on our way. While he was outside taking care of that, I said a quick, but heartfelt, prayer that God soothe my nerves and help me to perform to the best of my ability.

As we continued our drive, I felt calm, but a tad sick to my stomach. :) I was really glad that I had taken this opportunity not only to gain more performance experience, but to dance and have fun, because dancing IS fun for me. Usually. ;-) But I couldn't help but feel like I'd rather be going in for a surgical procedure rather than the social situation I was about to face.


In fact, my legs were trembling a little bit and my hands were FREEZING:

"Honey, could you turn up the heat? I'm *super* cold."

"You are? Oh. OK."

*Mike blasts heat* *discreetly rolls up the sleeves of his shirt and wipes a bead of sweat from his brow*

Car selfie:

putting on my brave smiley face...

And so, we arrived, and I could see someone waiting for me in the back. We gathered up our stuff and trooped over, my pink cover-up leading the way. As I suspected, it was the woman that I'd spoken with on the phone, and we did the usual polite greeting stuff. She said that the initial surprise of the party had gone very well, and she was very excited to surprise her husband with the dancing component. I asked if the other guests knew that I was coming, and she said yes, which made me feel a LOT better. MUCH less awkward that way.

We arranged ourselves in the hallway outside of the banquet room that the party was in. She said to just start whenever I was ready. She went into the room, and left Mike and me out there to do whatever we needed. Mike had instructions on the music and how and when to hand me Sword. I got my dance shoes on, cover up off, and veil out, and I was ready. I couldn't think of a better way to do the music aside from sending Mike in ahead of me to start it. He tried to be discreet and headed to a corner of the room. He peeked out to let me know that he was about to start, and then I heard the music begin.

This was the moment I was dreading :0 but I gathered my courage and entered the room, Veil putting on a lovely airborne performance. The husband seemed appropriately surprised, and was a very good sport about the whole thing. I wished him a happy birthday, and then tried to smile my heart out, dancing away on the small cleared space in front of all the tables.

He, his wife and another few couples were standing next to the bar to the side of the dance floor, and everyone else was at the tables, so I tried to divide my time a bit. I spent more time near the bar, but I went over the tables as well. A little toddler came out to dance with me, which I LOVED. Kids are THE BEST audience at dance events. So I discarded my veil to dance with her for a minute (Veil didn't like this one bit, and I had to pretend that I *meant* for him to engulf me for a few moments :0), and she tried to mimic my hip circles. I also scooped down to her level and showed her a few shoulder movements. That was a real crowd-pleaser.

After that, I had my longer first song to finish out and I was just in the moment, dancing away. And smiling. I smiled and smiled as much as I could. The song ended, and it was time for Sword to make his big debut. I could feel him simpering with energy over in the corner with Mike.

This is also the moment I was dreading. :0 Mike brought Sword over, and I danced around with it for a bit, just building anticipation. I balanced it on my hand and swirled it around for about half the song. The audience had been very attentive throughout, but with the addition of Sword, gazes were now raptly on me.


The balancing cue in the music that I had picked came, and I carefully set Sword on my head. He's been contrite ever since the art festival, and held on firmly. I started dancing, and received a nice round of applause. Naturally, Sword assumed the applause was for HIM, I could feel him preening away up there. ;-) As is always the case with balancing, I now had a more limited range of movements to pick from, and I beamed as much as I could while I danced. Here is a true statement for you: balancing a prop in practice is ALWAYS easier and more comfortable than it is in performance. It should be the same, right? But it isn't. Everyone is watching you, and it always feels more precarious. However, this time, I could tell that Sword was anchored well, I just needed to be more delicate in my movements, and that's the case in balancing regardless. So, Sword was a good boy, and we finished out the song without incident. That was also a crowd-pleaser. After Sword and I struck our final pose, it was time to hand him back to Mike and dance a drum solo.

I love drum solos, they may be my very favorite part of Middle Eastern dance. And I knew this was my final song in the set, so I was feeling excited. :) I accented away, and before I knew it, the song was over. When I danced at a restaurant a few years back, in a 15 minute set, it felt like FOREVER, and I was physically and emotionally drained afterward. This was a full 13 minutes, but it went by in a flash, and I felt happy and energized afterward. I posed for a few requested photographs, and then we were done. I spoke with the happy couple for a minute and wished them well. They thanked me profusely, and on our way out, the party guests were all very sweet and kind.

So that was that, and can I tell you? SO MUCH RELIEF. :0 I was very glad for the opportunity, I think it was good for me to challenge myself like that, but I am SO GLAD that that one is in my rear view mirror.

Do I have any other performers in my reading audience? Singers, dancers, actors? Do write in with your experiences. :)


  1. Tiffany what a wonderful account of your performance! Wow, your first solo in 8 years.
    What a great progression of practice, jitters, prayer, more jitters, music, and curtain up!, then triumph. It sort of reminds me of the nerves I get, at times, when reading at Mass, though I've been doing it for years.

    We have a high school acting troupe in our homeschool group named "John Paul's Troupe" and it has been an incubator for young thespians and singers. We did "Singin' In The Rain" and others and I see the passion and work that these kids put into their shows. One graduate is studying opera performance in college.

    Your post, really, is an allegory for life. We're anxious about the future, we pray our hearts out for the answer we want, we face our fear, we're relieved, and, at times, exhilarated.

    Loved your "brave face" in the car and your performance play-by-play. I really got some insight into this pastime of yours that you love so much.

  2. Phil! As ever, you have interesting and pertinent anecdotes to share, thank you so much! I know how much your family enjoys the arts, as well. I think the fact that the high school students' acting troupe is named after St. John Paul II is AWESOME! What a beautiful and perfect patronage. He will certainly guide them in their future acting endeavors.

    Love your thoughts on how my post applies more broadly to other things in life. I was thinking that too. In fact, that's rather a theme of my blog as a whole. I don't often blog about current events that are going on in our world. It's not because they're unimportant, certainly. But I think that it's worthwhile to look at the small and simple things in life and think about how we can apply those lessons to these larger problems to the extent we are able. It can be refreshing to look at it in this context, I think.

    I'm so glad that the post conveyed what I was hoping about Middle Eastern dance. It's been a happy, and busy, 8 years. While I have done many other solos in that time, this was the first time I had ever performed solo in a professional context. So much nail biting! :0

  3. Sounds like despite your jitters, things went well. I am sure you know this, but for whatever reason, the performance arts are rather well peppered with introverts. When I was taking dance lessons regularly, some of the instructors would always participate in the student haflas, and even some of the instructors would get jitters and have their own process for dealing with it. On the rare occasion I felt well enough equipped to participate in a hafla (grown up dance recital, in my case), for some reason the sea of faces didn't even really compute into actual PEOPLE while I was out there. I'm glad you enjoyed the experience, at least in some respects, and that it encourages you to do more in the future.

  4. Hi Amy! You know, I did not realize that about introverts! How interesting. I wonder if it has to do with how introverted people channel their creative energy, that the arts come more naturally to them? I'm not certain, but fascinating. I do know very experienced and talented dancers and other performers who still get nervous before they perform. My instructor is included in this regard. You would never know that she was nervous (how I envy that! :0) but she tells us later that she was. I think of this as a very good thing - it is a sign of how much a person cares about what they do and how they present it.


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