Tuesday, March 6, 2007


My students are putting together their first solos. Are they nervous? You better believe it. Everything's scary the first time. Dancers who've performed for years still get nervous. We fear making a fool of ourselves. Now, I've had my share of embarrassing moments. The worse was the first time I danced at Rakkasah, the biggest belly dance festival, they say, in the world. I dialed that call-in number a hundred times. I was that determined to get in. I picked my music. Put my choreography together, made my costume and practiced 'til I could dance it in my sleep. Looking back, the costume was all wrong though. Actually, it took me years to realize 2-piece costumes do not work on me. And silver spray painted dance slippers - gimme a break.

So there I was. Waiting in the wings all gussied up. Then, "From Richmond California Aaahsataaa...”. The applause died down and I thought "damn that's a huge audience". Later I learned a well-known dancer was next. Anyway, my music shook the hall and I whirled, twirled and shimmied around the stage. Go sata. Go sata. It's ya birthday. Go sata. I felt good. I'd made it through the first half of my dance. And then...my beautiful belt, the one I spent hours sewing various colored beads and fringe on, slid lower and lower. I kept on dancing and it kept on sliddin'.

When the music ended, I did my diva pose and swished off in a grand exit. I felt sweaty, out of breath and proud of myself. Peeling off the fake eyelashes I changed and found my sister. “Great job", she said. Leaning closer she whispered “..but, every time you turned around we could see the crack of your butt.” My eyes got big with that "What you talkin' bout Willis" look on my face. “Every time you turned we could see the crack of your butt.” Ohhh my Goddd! Imagine the crack of your ass exposed to hundreds even thousands of people. Go on laugh. I did when I read this. To this day, I have a hard time looking at that video.

So, make sure you perform your entire dance routine in your complete costume at home. Before you adjust anything, stop and look in the mirror...front and back, if you catch my drift. It's no secret belly dancers use lots of safety pins. Second, choose a costume flattering for your body type. And please no spray painted ballet slippers, they look stupid. Finally and most importantly, don't ever give up!