January 25, 2010

Time for a deep breath

Preparing for a performance at any level can be tiring, even down right exhausting. Performing with a group of 10, to non-traditional belly dance music, with costumes to make and steps to perfect could, in essence, suck the life out of you. However, if you can find that sweet spot between creative inspiration and group collaboration, the experience is different. It's an exciting, joyful ride that leaves you a little breathless at the end. Such was my feeling after this weekend.

Friday's show marked the debut of my first big performance and choreography since leaving Troupe Mirage, and showcased Baharat Belly Dance Ensemble. I took the name of my student troupe and expanded it a bit. It was the perfect solution for me because right here and now, I need a group over which I have creative control...just to keep me sane. So, I took students from my class and brought in dancers from the community that I respect and enjoy (as dancers and friends) and mixed up a whole new concept. Consider it my version of a belly dance hook-up. Minimal obligations for invited dancers, limited commitments, but maximum rewards!

The wonderful part of this journey was the enthusiasm and professionalism of all the dancers. They showed up early, stayed late to practice as needed, volunteered to help out and kept me posted on their schedules on a regular basis. And the relief I felt in knowing that everyone would follow through on their promises was priceless...really priceless. There were so much time before we performed (we got to close the show) where I had nothing to do...nothing! I just could sit and relax. No stress or worries! In fact, minutes before we went on stage I found myself counting dancers (there were ten of us you know...), not because I was afraid someone would go missing, but because I needed something to think about to occupy my time. And like counting sheep, counting dancers actually had a calming effect on my nervous (actually excited) energy.

And the costumes! Seriously very hot. We chose a take on menswear, but with a girly twist to go with our Michael Buble song. My favorite part of the whole costume making experience (yes we made all of these), was the group effort. I can say that in every costume there is a little piece of each dancer. We picked a couple of days for a sewing marathon and banged out costumes in an assembly line process. One person cut, another stitched, another ironed. Buttons and other bling were carefully added by another person. It was a community effort and such a bonding experience. And just what I needed to give my creative spirits a lift this year. I plan to do more collaborations and involve other dancers in the community. Right now, I need a little sleep, a little rest and nice big breath!

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