Monday, February 9, 2009

My SITA Introduction: Moods and Motivations

Here I go again. The more I dance, the more I must dance. So I can never get enough, can never feel satisfied for more than a moment. There is always the promise of the next dance, a new dance, a new kinetic experience. It is an irresistible force.

I remember when I was a modern dancer in Hartford, Connecticut in the 80s. I worked a full time job as a proofreader and attended classes, rehearsals, and performances six days a week. At one point, I was a member of three dance companies at one time, one of them a three hour round-trip commute. I was jealous of every choreography that did not include me. I was driven and greedy. That was when I realized that I was powerless over that drive to dance…and that maybe that wasn’t such a good thing. Finally, fatigue and injury forced me to put my modern days to rest.

When I began bellydancing in 2001, I deliberately shied away from performance opportunities, beyond a community parade or two. I didn’t want to be involved in the politics of dance, its egos and jealousies, let alone the grueling rehearsals. I’d done that before and I knew I would be happier if I remained neutral. I just wanted to be in a classroom learning to do this new dance for its own sake. For my own sake, for that kinesthetic challenge that I can’t live without. And for the sisterhood that can evolve from dance studio life. Nothing more.

But as I learned how to perform bellydance, I naturally wanted to show that off. I wanted to perform again. I had discovered by then that this performance community was much more forgiving than the modern one I had belonged to in Hartford. At bellydance events, rank beginners are welcomed on to the same stages as the experienced dancers (admittedly, a mixed blessing). So when Helene asked me to perform with her company Sisters of the Desert Sky, I thought, Sure, that’s harmless. Just a few performances in non-competitive contexts. How can I say no to that performance at the senior center? That’s not much. Oh, Just one more workshop. I’ll be careful. Plus, I’ve got all these great costumes; I really ought to use them.

So here I am again. Suddenly inspired (perhaps by the Obama aura), I began to ratchet up my dance activities. I signed up for classes with Janelle; then Sahar; threw in a few veil classes with Helené. Audrey and I choreographed some new pieces, which, along with our group improvisation (American Tribal Style), we are scheduled to perform in early March. I am trying to find the courage to commit to performing a solo improvisation at a monthly showcase. My head says yes, go for it but my joints are screaming “NO MORE!”

But as a dancer I still have more challenges that I want to face. I want to find out who I am when I’m dancing; I want to trust that. I want to express, reveal, and share what wisdom I may have gained in 50 years of dancing. I sense that I am getting closer to understanding something about what it is to be a dancer. So, dearest body, just this one more challenge before I retire. Again. I promise.

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