Exciting times

I’m excited.

Tomorrow is hafla night for my dance club.

We have two other troupes coming as well as some solo spots (and hopefully some musicians!)

I’m going to spend from 4 pm tomorrow turning the kindergarten we meet at into an ‘exotic locale’ worthy of hosting lovely dancers (it ain’t completely easy, but my sari collection helps).

This week I have taught two classes and run a dress rehearsal for the club, and done my own practice (I’d like to say “of course”, but that wouldn’t be quite accurate…).

A small voice inside keeps trying to say that I should be all danced out by now, with nothing left for tomorrow night.

But…

it’s wrong

I’m finding it hard to believe how much energy I have at the end of this busy week (there was busy times at work and whiny angsty kids at home as well) and I’m putting it all down to my dancing.

I do feel a bit tired, but there’s a solid core of energy left in me – which I find very exciting.  It’s certainly not something I’m accustomed to.  It is something I’d like to get used to.  And I have noticed it starting to flow though into other things (like being able to cope with those whiny kids).

I am delighted that the small voice is so wrong.

It gives me confidence that I have made good choices in letting my passion for belly dance take over my life.

It gives me hope that I can keep on doing this for a loooong time.

It gives me courage to dig deeper and enrich my dance.

I cannot recall ever feeling so happy or so much myself.

It’s cool.

I love it!

And…

…I am going to keep on dancing 🙂

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To ponder

There is a form of creativity that reaches for the stars and is sunny and bright,

but there is another kind, just as fruitful, that is dark and deep,

more hidden than visible,

motivated sometimes by anger and envy.

This deep source of the creative spirit is difficult to express in our world

because we have difficulty appreciating the positive qualities of the dark emotions.

But they give a person depth,

strength of character,

and an earthy honesty

and counter any tendency towards the sentimental and naive.

from Thomas Moore’s A Life at Work (2008, p91)

Life, dance and procrastination

Trying to fit life around dance, or dance around life, is always going to be a juggling act for me.  As well as my dancing commitments, I have work and family commitments to fit in each day.  This is not something I find particularly easy.

However, if I’m honest, the regular commitments – the ones that come with set times and obvious responsibilities – I do find straightforward.  I can get to work on time, I can pick up my kids on time, I can prepare for and lead a class on time.  Where I fall down is the commitments with non-set times, and most especially the ones where I have no one to answer to but myself.  Which is when the procrastination comes in.  Unfortunately, it is also when my own dance practice comes in.

Confession time: I really struggle to practice.  I have goals and aspirations for where I would like to take my dancing, but what I really aspire to (apart from being able to do back bends on the floor) is to have good practice habits.  To be honest, I don’t know here to start.  Whatever routines I have tried to set up I seem to end up sabotaging or the kids get sick or it’s school holidays again (school holidays are great for destroying my routines!), and I don’t know how to fix it.

I want to practice my dance every day.  By this I don’t mean, the listening to music in the car or while doing chores, I don’t mean the shimmying and grooving to whatever music happens to be playing at home (usually Queen – thanks kids!), and I certainly don’t mean reading dance blogs and watching Youtube.  Not that there is anything wrong with any of these things, but they do not count as the formal practice I need (and indeed crave).

I wish I could figure out my psychology enough to fix it.  Apparently, being answerable to myself just isn’t enough (though it can help me spend endless hours beating myself up for not doing the things I could have been doing in the time I was beating myself up!). But, maybe, just maybe, I can try making myself answerable to you, dear readers…

So (deep breath) I hereby commit myself to practicing at least 10 minutes everyday from today (even if I have to stay up later to do it – getting up earlier just ain’t gonna fly!)

And I will regularly report my progress with this to you (as well as finding the time and brain to write some other posts, too).

Right, off to dance now…

(BTW – thank you :-))

Mission statements

The highly observant amongst you may have noticed a small tweak to the header at the top of the page.

Over the past weeks, I have been doing a lot of hard work on personal stuff like aesthetic preferences.  This has been an interesting voyage of self-discovery which has by no means come to an end.  After all, I’m not dead yet!  I will be writing more about how this affects my dance/life another time.

This has lead to a few significant realisations and subsequent adjustments to my life planning.  One of these has been the appearance of a sort of ‘mission statement’ for my dance related activities.  I can’t say I worked specifically on this, but it did pop up when I was looking for a descriptive phrase to describe my approach:

Opulence in motion

Now I’d be the first to admit that this is still at the aspirational phase!   However, I take heart in the thought that this is something I can consciously seek to embody in my dance.  Having uncovered this phrase, I’m now looking to things like my costume choices and even my movement vocabulary to see how I can dance this idea to my fullest ability – feedback on how I’m doing would be most welcome, please 🙂

I am a newcomer to this whole focus phrase/mission statement business, and I will be interested to see how it affects me and my dance over time.  I’m hoping that it will be a help!  I have already noticed a few subtles changes: I’m watching more Golden Age and Oriental dance on YouTube, and my costuming choices are getting richer and more detailed (sumptuousness is a good thing – right?!).

So, here’s a question: do you have a ‘mission statement’ for your dance?  If you do, how does it help you?  And can it be a hindrance, too?

* * *

Coming soon (yes, really!): my review of Tanya Bamford-King‘s “Dancing the Drum” workshop in Wellington

Body image, emotion and dance

Recently I strained a tendon in my foot and need to see a physiotherapist.

I was lucky enough to find someone who practises holistic physiotherapy – muscle activation, treating fascial tissue and so on.  In other words, a physio who wants to get to the root cause of the injury, beyond the surface symptoms.

As a result of her work, my body is working better than it has in years, better than I ever thought it could.  I now have calf and hamstring flexibility, I can stretch further, my spine is better aligned, my shoulders looser and more.  As a result, my shimmies are sharper, my shoulder rotations more serpentine and my undulations stronger.

As well as the physical effects I am enjoying, there have also been psychological effects which I hadn’t anticipated.  The main one of these has been the need to completely re-write my own definitions of my body.  For years, I have talked down my dancing as ‘my body wasn’t flexible enough’, ‘I was physically incapable of dancing any better than average’, ‘tight hamstrings ran in the family’ and there was little I could do to improve the situation despite my best efforts.  Now I’ve found that’s not true.

I’ve found instead that what’s true is that my body stretches just fine when my calf and hamstring muscles are working properly.  My shimmies work well when my gluts are awake.  My rib circles are sharper and faster when my shoulders and chest are open.  My stamina is greater when my muscles all work together.  My body is, in fact, capable of dancing well, and of improving its skills to dance even better.

One particular area of dance performance I had always had  issues with was expressing emotion through dance.  However, with the freeing of my body and the re-writing of my mind, I am finding it so much easier to draw on the deep recesses of my soul and let them into my dance*.  I feel so much less limited in the range and strength of emotions I can dance.  I am very much looking forward to seeing how this translates into my performance.

*My thanks here, also, to Asharah, the Bellydance Paladin, for her thought-provoking posts about emotion and dance, which have helped me dig even deeper.

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