World Belly Dance Day Bellingen 2012

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.

World Belly dance Day Bellingen 2012

I felt a bit like the pied piper! All the gorgeous girls following me.

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?).

parade improvisation at world belly dance day

Taking centre stage together – well done!!

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.

pretty in pink

Dorrigo kids wrapped up ready to start their dance

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).

Finale of Abl Ma Anam!

Finale of Abl Ma Anam!

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.

teal skirts - pinwheel

Mother’s Dance

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.

5 gorgeous women - belly dance / polynesian dance fusion

Our Bellynesian number

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!

Love Jade

mother and daughter

PS: If you have any photos or video of the day please send to

What I learnt from my biggest belly dance performance fails…

Getting a belly dance veil wrapped around your hand so its like a club you can’t get rid of, having your one of your zills swing around to the other side of your finger, making a mistake in a group choreography. Are these my biggest performance fails????– No. When I think back through all my performances I am happy to say that there have been no occasions where my on stage actions were serious enough to consider epic fails or true fails at all. I have usually managed to cover quite well for small errors and have finished feeling very pleased with myself for not panicking and handling the unforseen situation.

No, on reflection my biggest fails regarding performance have occurred off stage.

It’s what I say after my dancing that has given me the most cause for regret.

cute buny

Fails aren't fails if you learn from them...

This mistake I made quite a bit when I first began performing –

Audience member: “Wow, what a great performance, I loved how you danced”.

Me: “Thanks, but I really am not happy with how I did (blah, blah) move/dance.

     or “I can do better”

     or “The sound was terrible I could hardly hear it”.  Etc, etc.

Talk about totally ruining the moment!!

Here is a fan enthusiastic enough to approach me and say something nice and I would take the wind out of their sails! Being a perfectionist, I often run over what I did after each performance and what I could improve upon or try differently next time. But what I have learnt is that while internal dialogue can help improve one’s dancing (if you keep it constructive and positive)– it should stay internal! Don’t share it with the audience. If someone really loved what they saw, pointing out everything that could have been better is akin to saying “you have no taste”. Next time they want to compliment you or other performers, they might hesitate and choose not to. It’s particularly a big deal for someone to offer praise in Australia. Our culture is very much against tall poppies. People (particularly in country areas) may love what you do but feel anything more than a friendly nod or smile would be inappropriate, they don’t want you to get a big head and think that you should know if you were good – no need to say anything more. We need to cultivate those willing to break with tradition! So years ago I made a point of saying “Thank you very much” when complimented. I feel better, they feel better.

Don’t tear yourself down. – Lesson Learnt

My second biggest fail is on a similar theme. I am still so annoyed with myself because I have managed it more than once. A few times, I have unexpectedly found myself either on-stage at an event or on panels of choreographers being asked questions regarding dance. This is when you are supposed to answer the questions in a succinct and preferably funny manner and try sell yourself a bit. Boy have I struggled with this! I prepare for performances but didn’t realise its worth preparing for this too! While other dancers were glibly mentioning their credentials and places they had danced, I managed to NOT mention that I had been studying Middle Eastern dance for 13 years, that I had taken workshops with some of the best and brightest dancers and that I had travelled to Egypt to further my study!  WTF I did say I have no idea but I managed to sound like a country hick.

Jade Belly Dance with veil

I think I will go hide in this corner now...

So embarrassing!

Another time I managed to mention something about getting drunk!!! I am a tea-totaller, I rarely go anywhere near alcohol but somehow managed to infer that I like to hit the bottle!!! Where those lines came from I have no idea but let’s just say I came off in a less than optimal fashion.

The lesson?? Write down a few key points about yourself, what you love about your style and why you dance – you never know when someone will call on your expertise and you don’t want to ruin an excellent performance with sub-par remarks.

Can you relate? Any epic fails you would like to share?  Please comment below 🙂

Before you go, as a bit of a pick me up have a look at this short clip of famous failures. It seems many people ‘fail’ before they succeed.

I would like to thank Nichelle from Dance Advantage for suggesting this topic.

It costs how much?

If you ask yourself why PERFORMANCE ARTISTS i.e.: dancers, musicians, DJs, singers, etc, charge so much for what they do. It’s coz we don’t get paid vacation, sick days, flexi days, superannuation, bonuses for outstanding performances or for Christmas & public holidays. We sacrifice our family on special days so that we can bring happiness to others. Illness or personal affairs are not excuses for a bad performance. Next time you ask, remember that Performance Artists are ARTISTS because of their love for music, movement, expression & art but that love doesn’t pay the bills!! (R.E.S.P.E.C.T) ♥

Beautiful belly dancer spinning with silk veils

coming soon – dvd review, and nude by nature make up review!

Jade with double veils picture by Bruce Thomas

Next Newer Entries

Follow Jade Belly Dance on
%d bloggers like this: