Tuesday, April 11, 2017

"*gulp* What do I do NOW?!" Adventures in hafla dancing, April 2017 edition...

As ever, I bear amusing tales from our semiannual hafla, the Middle Eastern dance equivalent to the old fashioned recitals we all know and love. At least, *I* loved them. I'm sure my long suffering relatives sometimes wished they could have a break. 😂 And so here we have Current Day Tiffany, no longer a budding ballerina, but a full-time librarian and semi-professional belly dancer who dances even more than she did 30 years ago. Who would have thunk it?

Our spring hafla was a lot earlier than usual this year due to a number of factors, but despite that fact, it was still Heavens to Mergatroyd HOT in there for the duration of the show. Nevertheless, I straightened my hair with the hopes of it looking halfway decent by the end of the performance. As opposed to THIS, which is how we started off pre-straightener:

A rare behind-the-scenes hair look

With just a WEE bit of wrangling, we got to this:

Thank goodness for the miracle of modern technology

After packing up what felt like 100 costumes, I wheeled my handy dandy little orange suitcase off to the studio. I was nervous because not only would Mike and the kids be there, but also my in-laws, who have never seen me dance before.I wanted to do as good a job as I possibly could.

Set 1 included 2 group numbers for me. I was sweating as daintily as human possible waiting for our slots. The first number in any given performance always feels a bit rusty to me, but this one is one of my favorite pieces, and I felt like it went very well. I wasn't nervous, just like we were shaking off our cobwebs a bit. After that, was the piece from the Sunday choreography class I took over the winter, and that one went REALLY well. Set 1 ended on a high note.

But then came the part I was most nervous about. :0 My solo was the very first piece in Set 2. I changed into my baladi gown, sweating all the while. Even after all these years, I still get VERY nervous before I perform. I had practiced my heart out, and I'm pleased to say that it was all worth it. I've been working very hard to relax more when I dance, and to focus on projecting the emotion that the music evokes in me. I felt really good about the way it went (not perfect by any stretch, but my very best effort!), and the audience was super responsive. That's every dancer's best case scenario!

The solo behind me, I allowed myself the treat of breathing a bit, and changed into my next group costume. This is a piece that I've been having a difficult time remembering, which is totally not like me. Dance choreographies are usually the one thing I CAN remember. Office keys, crucial lesson plan details, directional navigation issues? Nope. Dances? Always.

So I had practiced this one based upon my nervousness about it, and during the show it went great! I remembered everything, including some last minute changes we had made. We had yet another group piece in set 2 (clearly, my most exhausting set of the night :0) which was a power-packed Shaabi/drum duo, and those also went quite well. My hair was expanding and curling quite a bit in the heat, but all in all, I was managing it quite well, I thought. :0

Then we get to set 3. I am nearly in the clear here, peeps. Everything had gone pretty much as good as it could for me, and I was already prophesying about the gigantic glass of Chardonnay that would be awaiting me upon my arrival home. I was tired, my hair was huge, but I felt good, and changed into the costume for our brand new Shaabi piece.

This was the last dance of the night. Everything started off fine. You're getting a sense of foreboding reading this, aren't you. ;-) You're not alone, friends! We get to the middle section of the dance, and herein lies the part that we changed the night before the show. Our venue is in the round, and Claire asked if my side of the line could face a different direction for that segment. It threw us all at first, because we've practiced it differently so many times, but when we tried it, it went fine and looked great. Well.

We get to that part, and I'm having an intensive conversation with my own self inside my head about what way to turn and face. Check, I remembered, no problem. But my mind was so preoccupied on that little detail, that BOOM! The music hit an accent, signalling the onset of our accent sequence near the end of the dance. And what happened? Nothing. I couldn't remember what came next in the choreography.


The directional change had disoriented me enough that I blanked. It doesn't happen to me often when I dance, but when it does, let me tell you, it sucks. :0 But I have learned something from my years of performing, and that is the following:

A compelling dance performance is about so much more than dance ability. It's about putting on a persona. You gotta SELL IT, SISTER. If you can't sell it, they won't buy it!!

The music accents. I blank, and realize that I have blanked. Thus, I strike a snappy hip accent, while fixing a blistering smile at my immediate audience. The other half of the line is doing something different from my half anyway, by design, so I pray that it looks like I MEANT to do this. The music accents again. I'm still disoriented and cannot remember what the next movement is. To my left, I can see that my troupemate Lara is in the same boat as me. I strike a second accent that I pray is correct. It isn't.


On the third one, I strike the correct accent but facing the wrong direction, and Lara manages to synch up with me facing the wrong direction. Which makes it the right direction, in my opinion. 😂

Lara and I beamed our way through our duo sequence at the end, which we both remembered, thankfully, but MAN. That was rough. :0 Back in the dressing room, my other troupemates were saying they forgot parts in the other choreography, the one I originally was so nervous about remembering, so the moral of the story is that it happens to everybody sooner or later. I hadn't even noticed that they had blank moments, so SEE. They sold it. 😀

All's well that ends well. My in-laws loved the show. Despite the Shaabi debacle, I felt really satisfied with our group pieces and with my solo piece. And hey, the Shaabi is a good story. ;-) I love the dancing life.

Book club tomorrow, and we're almost done!

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