Tag Archives: belly-dance

Dancin’ Fool

Well, I did it. Fortunately I’ve never been terribly attached to my dignity.

Yes; this weekend, after only ten lessons, I got up and attempted to belly-dance in front of a (mercifully small) audience.

It didn’t begin well.

I danced the piece a few times in the morning just to make sure I had it secure in my head. I got through it perfectly a couple of times… and then had a total brain fart.

We learned the first steps of the choreography in our very first class, and we’ve been practicing them ever since. They’re not complicated – 8 beats of simple movements, and then we shift our weight onto the other foot and repeat the same 8 movements.

I got through the first 8. Then the memory of how to make the switch and perform the second 8 vanished without a trace, leaving me gaping at my flummoxed self in the mirror.

Try as I might, I couldn’t remember how to do the next 8 beats. And it was exactly the same damn thing as the first 8 beats.

Nope, not an auspicious start.

But after I managed to assimilate that series of moves (again), it seemed like smooth sailing. Our class ran from 3:30 to 4:30, followed by the recital. We practiced during our class, and I was fine. Somewhat confident, even.

I knew this dance. I could do it.

Then the other dancers began to arrive. There were two other beginner classes and an intermediate class, plus the studio’s dance troupe. They all began to warm up and rehearse.

My jaw dropped.

As I watched the other ‘beginners’, it became humiliatingly obvious that our instructor had drawn the short straw this term and gotten stuck with the slow learners.

These women were dancers. And they had costumes, for shit’s sake!

It didn’t help that my friend and I were the only two students performing from our class– everyone else had ‘prior commitments’. (Including my other friend, who fled all the way to Korea to avoid performing. I know it was required by her job. But I still think the timing was suspiciously convenient.)

I sidled over to our instructor and muttered, “Gotta go; look at the time.”

That’s when she laughed and explained that ‘beginner’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘beginner-beginner’. Apparently a lot of students take the Foundations course several times before moving on to the intermediate class.

Okay… but still…

When Hubby arrived to watch, I made sure to point out we were the only real beginner class, so he shouldn’t expect too much. But at least I wasn’t nervous. It’s nice that my worries vanish when I’m absolutely certain I’m going to make a fool of myself.

The dance troupe performed first, followed by two other ‘beginner’ classes.

Then it was our turn.

And I nailed the choreography! I still can’t do the moves well, but I turned and shimmied and waved my arms exactly where I was supposed to. About three-quarters of the way through the dance I realized I hadn’t made a mistake yet, and that’s when I started getting nervous. Fortunately it was a short song, and it was over before I could freak out.

And you know what? I had fun!

We start a new class on Sunday: another beginner course with the same fun and fabulous (and patient) instructor. Maybe I’ll catch on this time…

* * *

Since some of you expressed an unwholesome interest in watching me jettison my dignity, here’s a link to parts of my ‘performance’. The video is clipped and cropped because my friend persuaded me to edit her out. It’s amazing how persuasive death threats can be.

Here you go: http://youtu.be/K-BngqeNQc8

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Belly-Dance: That’ll Teach Me

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I’m taking a beginner belly-dance class.  It has been a tremendous learning experience, despite the fact that I have absolutely no natural aptitude for it.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

The word ‘choreography’ has ‘chorea’ as its root.
Dictionary.com defines ‘chorea’ as ‘any of several diseases of the nervous system characterized by jerky, involuntary movements, chiefly of the face and extremities.’  That explains a lot.  I’m a word geek.  I’m just doin’ it right.

Also pertaining to choreography:

In choreography notes, ‘CCW’ means ‘counter-clockwise’.
It is not a typo for CCR.  Which is a relief, because as much as I love Creedence, I just can’t see belly-dancing to ‘Heard It Through The Grapevine’.  ‘Bad Moon Rising’, however, would be frighteningly apropos.

Never trust your friends.
The friend who exhorted me not to laugh at her… has belly-danced before.  The friend who swore she had two left feet… used to be a cheerleader.  Their hip shimmies are perfect, even though the only time they practice is during the one-hour class.  I practice every morning, and I still look as though I’m frantically trying to dislodge a barbed-wire wedgie.

If you stand with your feet close together instead of planted sturdily shoulder-width apart, you look more like a belly-dancer and less like you’re about to punch somebody’s lights out.
Unless you’re me.  Then it helps, but it doesn’t completely solve the problem.  I’m really not planning to punch anybody; that scowl is just baffled concentration…

Belly-dancing is best suited to women who have hips.
When you’re built like a telephone pole, it doesn’t matter how much you shimmy, you still look like a telephone pole… in an earthquake.

If you use an X-rated phrase to memory-associate the names of the moves, you WILL begin to giggle at inappropriate times in the class.
But that’s okay, because giggling is pretty much the only appropriate response to watching me try to belly-dance.

Studio mirrors were created by Satan himself.
Just sayin’.

I am apparently incapable of shimmying my hips without simultaneously flapping my hands.
This might not be so bad if the objective of the class was actually to impersonate an epileptic penguin.  But on the up side, I’ve developed a genuine empathy for tubby flightless birds with neurological disorders.

Start every day with a smile!
It’s hard not to, when I’m confronted by the sight of myself gyrating gracelessly in the mirror every morning.

Which leads me to…

Do not practice belly-dancing while wearing nothing but your underwear and a jingly hip scarf, even behind closed doors in the privacy of your own home.
Or, if you do, don’t describe it to your friends.  In a restaurant.  Just as the waiter sneaks up behind you.  For the record, he had the best deadpan I’ve ever seen.

Humility is a virtue.
I’m so friggin’ virtuous right now, it’s making my eyes water.  By the time the lessons are finished, I fully expect to achieve sainthood.  Or possibly martyrdom.

How to belly-dance.
Well… no.  I haven’t actually learned that yet.  But we have six lessons left, so I’m still hoping…

* * *

The instructor keeps going on as if she actually expects us to dance this piece in front of an audience.  If anybody’s got an inspirational story about how you started off sucking at something and ended up acing it, now would be a really great to time to share.  Even better if you ended up acing it after six lessons…

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