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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Back to Belly Dance: Public Debut Coming Up

My costumes are ready.  I went to pick them up yesterday from the uber-talented seamstress.  She made a few alterations, plus a couple of inspired modifications that she suggested.  Maybe I’ll get brave enough to attach photos of me actually wearing them.  I better get used to wearing them in front of people.  Next week we're scheduled to do a practice run of our dances at a Greek restaurant in downtown San Antonio.  Our public debut!  The more advanced students are also unveiling their new dances.  But they are old hands at performing in public.  We newbies are chewing our fingernails. 

For the “Jemileh” dance, I’ll wear the beaded Egyptian costume.  It looks more traditional, and “Jemileh” is a more traditional song.  From what I gather, and my information may not be correct, “Jemileh” is about a husband grieving for his beloved wife.  He sings her name mournfully over and over, as if his sorrow has no words.  Miss K’s choreography is graceful and slow, almost somber.  If I were directing the music video of this dance, it would look like this:    

A darkened stage is swirling with mist.  A beautiful woman appears, her beaded dress sparkling.  Her head is bowed.  Her arms are extended, palms up.  It is a gesture of humility and giving.  It's as if she is saying, “I am here, my love, one last time, to dance for you.”  He wonders, Am I dreaming?  Is she an apparition?  A ghost?   The music strikes its opening chords.  She lifts her head and begins her hypnotic dance.  All he can do is watch and sing her name over and over.  As the final notes sound, her arms return to their original position, now a gesture of acceptance and finality.  Her head bows, and the mist closes in. 

OK, put away the Kleenex, and let’s move on.     

The second dance, “El Sekka El Ghalat,” is the total opposite of “Jemileh.”  It’s an up-tempo rap song.  The Arabic lyrics call to mind a back-talking teenager telling his parents, “I’m gonna do it my way, even if it’s the hard way.”  I imagine the dance character as a young girl full of sass and attitude.  She whirls and pops her hips and throws her head back in diva poses.  The usually fluid moves of belly dance are performed with snap and precision.  At least, that’s the idea.  My moves aren’t as crisp as the better dancers, Miss K chief among them.     

So my two dances could hardly be more different.  In one, it’s the Humble Handmaiden, in the other, the Sassy Dance Diva.   

On with the show! 

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