I began dancing professionally in 2010 so it was surreal as 2019 ended to think that it has been a full decade for me of dancing professionally. So much has happened in the last 10 years. Here are some highlights:
Click the comparison photos for captions:
One of my favorite parts of this last decade was studying music with friends. During the decade before this one some friends and I started a study group for Arabic and Turkish music. Then during the early part of this decade the study group became a band called Manavi. We hosted haflas, did performances, we even recorded a few tracks in the recording studio!
One of my favorite shows from this decade was Otherworld in 2012- a collaboration between Manavi and SHOW Circus Studio. It featured dance acts and circus acts, all performed to live music. It was a theatrical show with a narrative and characters and it was so much fun! This was my first sword performance and you can probably tell from some of the photos that I was terrified, but it is still a very fond memory. So many of my dear friends were in this show and it was lovely that we all got to perform together.
The early years of this decade were a wild ride as I got my classes started, working on studying, and tried to get used to being asked to headline shows.
The first three pictures here were taken by @stevewollkind. They are from when I was asked to headline a show in Boston. The next two were taken by Paul Jones and are from the Clarion back when it was a monthly venue in Western MA. Later it would be where I hosted my own shows.
The Dancing into the Dark and Dancing into the Light student shows began in 2011. In 2010 my students were invited to dance at the student shows that my friend Sanaa of LifeDance Productions ran. And for the first year or two after DitD/DitL started my students danced at both her shows and those.
Here are some photos from Sanaa's shows. The first photo is the instructors from one of the shows (Sanaa is on the right in the first photo, she recently retired from dancing, Felicia pass on the left), the others are my students.
Dancing into the Dark and Dancing into the Light have been going since 2011. They were originally started by Chaya, Jericha, and I (last photo). Over the years Jericha moved to the west coast and Chaya stopped teaching dance. Occasionally guest teachers had students who performed in the show- Asherah who took over Chaya's classes, Krista, and my students who turned pro- Lisa, Aralia, and Avienn. Now I have the shows for just my students since I needed to scale the shows back to being much much smaller than they used to be so that I can also concentrate on other parts of my life. Here are just a small number of my incredible students who have performed over the years. I think all of these photos are by Paul Jones, Huong Phan, and Ashley Elizabeth.
There is so much more that happened in 10 years than I can fit in a blog post. Not all of it was always fun and shiny. There was harassment, bullying, anxiety, and economic issues,. There are also big problems with racism, colonialism, and orientalism amongst dancers from the US and Europe. All of these need to be addressed and I am planning to add more discussion of these issues in classes this year. As a white woman not from any of the cultures of origin for bellydance I am a guest in these dance styles. The last few years this has led me to get more involved in activist work, which I had put aside for many years, to advocate against imperialism broad and discrimination locally. I look forward to continuing this work.
I am honored by everyone who has welcomed me in to their homes to dance at their parties, all of the musicians whose music I have had the joy of dancing to, and the students who allow me to teach and share my love of the music, movement, and cultures that inspire me so much. I am grateful for all of the people I have met and friendships I have made along the way in this journey. Thank you all.
My adventures in dance, music, costume design...