Susan's Blog

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Cleopatra’s Frenzy is My Frenzy

I am so in love with this class I’m taking, and with my teacher. She is a beautiful little thing, and really funny. Melina has a true zest for life, and all its parts. I love that. The feelings she conveys are often precisely what I am feeling. She has a writer’s way of describing movements, so that I can truly understand the emotion behind each one, the look of each one. We are working on a choreography to a song called Cleopatra’s Frenzy, which she calls a kind of “erotic frenzy” of a dance. Some of the movements she describes as, “Go away, you can’t have me,” or “Proud Queen,” or “Suzie Q cross-step,” or even “constipated, Egyptian style: dance as if you are stuck inside a column and all you can move are your hips.”

The class is going to have a recital on April 1 at a local restaurant, where my teacher reigns as the star dancer. I am trying to learn the choreography so that I can be in the group dance. It looks great even now, with the class only having learned it last week.

I realized something essential recently: it’s no shame being where I am, semi-beginner. No one is going to be looking at any of my performances so that they can say, “Stop, you fraud! You think you can bellydance?!” I no longer care about being just where I am, not at all perfect as a dancer. I feel like a Bona-fide Beginner, (rather than Total Newb) and as I said in the last post, being can be good enough. Feeling this way has a positive effect on how I dance, of course, in that I now can look at people, and not feel like cringing about myself and what they must be thinking. I felt this happening in class last night when we were all practicing the group number and several of the Intermediate dancers were watching us, waiting for their class, which was next. I felt a sisterhood, a community, rather than a snippy catlike competition. I gave it my all, looking outward, rather than at the ground, and I felt like a real dancer.

The moves in this piece are so bellydancerly. That means they are full of joy, or coquettish, or proud, almost militaristic and straight up and down. There are arm movements that are palms-up, starting at hips, and rising up into the air overhead, a proclamation of owning-the-room happiness. You can’t help but smile while doing it. I don’t even have to think about my expression when dancing in Melina’s class. It’s a sweaty, hard working grimace, but it’s gloriously happy.

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