A tribute to my students
I stumbled across the World Belly Dance Day website by accident back in 2008. At the time I was a student and teacher with the Awalim school of Middle Eastern Dance. I suggested to the other teachers we hold an event as well. Ruth and Shekhinah thought it a great idea and Bellingen’s first World Belly Dance day was born. That year we won “World’s most caring organisers”!! We hadn’t known such an award existed.
In 2009 we were thrilled to have around 26 dancers parading, as this was 1% of the population! (we live in a small town – Bellingen has a total population of 2600 people). This year my dance school, Jade Belly Dance, had 30 performers all on its own from the Bellinger Shire and several other schools had good numbers in attendance too (too many people in the photos for me to count them accurately! Maybe 70 dancers all up as a guess?).
What a beautiful day it was, you would hardly know we were only a few weeks off winter. Even I was hot and that rarely happens. Good photos were hard in the parade because of the copious amounts of sunshine in our faces but I would rather sun than shivering – it means you can show your belly without turning blue! After weeks of costume panics and dance practice it was such a relief to finally be there with so many of my gorgeous students.
The kids were armed with veils I had picked up in Egypt (really cotton head scarves but they are a good size for children) and off we went following the beat of the drum. Every time I turned I saw a sea of smiling faces following behind. There were two extra special moments for me in that parade, one was watching my friend Pauline (whom I had danced with for a decade) and her daughter Catie (a past student of mine), do a little solo together. When I have danced with Pauline, I have always thought we looked a little silly together. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the energy but next to her I felt like a giant. Seeing mother and daughter dance together was just perfection. The other was when one of my current students, Lyn, struck out and did a spontaneous solo improvisation to the maksoum beat. WOW! Is there any greater feeling for a teacher when you see your students shine. Later 3 of them had a go together and I had a grin from ear to ear (so proud Lyn, Bess and Bec).
Next up was some dancing to live drumming, then my girls took the stage. My Dorrigo kids classes opted to dance without my assistance or that from my more experienced Bello girls and they did a fine job. Only one disaster was poor little Izzy that had run off to the toilet and we couldn’t find her. She was so devastated to have missed the performance but she got to parade so it wasn’t a complete loss for her.
My Bellingen girls did the first ever complete run through of their dance Abl Ma Anam. They choreographed a good deal of the dance themselves with moves that reminded them of the lyrics (Houda translated for us- thank you!!). But as a child inspired piece it naturally broke with convention and thus included cartwheels while holding veils!
The Dorrigo Ladies then followed with our mothers dance which was very appropriate for the day before mother’s day! It was partly choreographed by last years Bellingen class but with the addition of some tricky pinwheel formation work. I can’t believe they were all so brave to publicly perform after only 1 term of tuition! I refused for 3 whole years when I started out!!!
Other schools danced a variety of styles including Baladi, Khaleegy and fan veils. I didn’t catch as many acts as I would have liked due to costume changes, organising, photos and trying to keep an eye on my own little dancing daughter as she flitted around the market but what I did see was lovely and there was great music as well.
At the end of festivities my Bellingen ladies performed our Bellynesian act (Polynesian mixed with Belly dance). I took my first Polynesian dance class in Hawaii when I was 15, I loved it and wanted to do more but it wasn’t available here. Eventually I took up belly dance and it has remained my passion for the last 13years but all along I have wanted to do a fusion of the 2. On World Belly Dance Day 2012 I finally got to fulfil that goal backed by my beautiful students.
The unseasonably hot late autumn weather added the necessary tropical feel and our fast and furious dance to Tahitian drumming was a triumph. My schools last offering was a sword duo by two of my more experienced dancers, they were told they were definitely doing it only 10 minutes before performing. It was then I also told them that I would not be dancing with them as I usually do. I wanted them to be the stars. They had a panicked look in their eye at first but rose admirably to the occasion.
So it is with much happiness that I congratulate the efforts of all of my past and present students that have bought me to this place in my life. Without your support I would not be a teacher and would not be writing this blog. You have come to me for lessons but have taught me so much in return.
Thank You, Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!
PS: If you have any photos or video of the day please send to email@example.com