Sunday, July 29, 2007


I have to admit i'm having a bit of a bellydance-related-crisis.

I encountered my first brush with fundamentalism a while ago, I was asked why I "degraded myself in front on an audience" and how would I ever expect to find a husband? And while I think that I explained the dance and my motives pretty well, it was still a bit of a wake-up call.

I'm planning on going to the Middle East to teach English and study dance in the winter, and it's just hitting me now that I can't say that I'm a bellydancer if I expect to be employed, respected and treated as a professional. This really upsets me as I think that being a dance teacher and performer is a wonderful thing, and I'd love to have in on my TESOL resume as I think it really qualifies me to teach there. It seems so ironic to me that the very countries that I have dedicated my life to studying the dances of, are the ones that I can't admit this to! You'd think they'd appreciate someone who is so fascinated with their culture, yet it's places like China that would actually respect this!

Also, it's hard to feel like people appreciate your art when a large portion of our audience views us as some sort of party trick, and assumes that we want to be sexualized. Just last night I pulled up a guest at a restuarant and had him dance with me, and instead of thanking me as he sat down, he slapped my butt. Shocked, I kind of gave the audience an unimpressed look, but I was in full performance mode and couldn't think of what to do. I wanted to come back after I'd changed and give him a piece of my mind, but I just wanted to leave at that point.

This is a serious problem for dancers, people have been fired for stopping a show due to customer harassment. Restaurant owners seem to think it's just a hazard of the job and it's our job to just "go on with the show" and not make any one feel uncomfortable, even if they just grabbed us.

I think that Western men just don't understand how they are supposed to react to a bellydancer. Should they look away? Smile politely? Made crude comments to their buddies? Shake their pelvis wildly at us? Its pretty disheartening after studying this dance for so long and working so hard on being a great performer, so see that a lot of our audiences view us as basically a clothed stripper who is there to embarass, seduce and make fun of the men.

My plan of attack has always been to project my joy and love of the dance and hope that this shines though...but people always project their own experiances and assuptions onto you no matter what you do. I'm starting to wonder if the nightclub/party scene is really for me.


It's been a while

Well it's been about a month and a half since I've updated...eep!

Since then I've:

Headlined at Layali Arabesque at Myth
Had three more seniors gigs
Performed with ADC at the Canadian Arab Federation
Performed at parties/weddings in Oakville, Vaughn, Woodbridge, Maple and downtown
Celebrated my 25th birthday!
Bought two new costumes (sigh)
Negotiated making an instructional DVD (still in process)
Took my course in TESOL so I can teach English overseas next year
Headlined at Layali again
Learned a bunch of new parts for ADC shows
Taught regular classes at Aradia and Arabesque...and a veil variety class.

So it's been busy!

Layali both times was a blast.

I love dancing for a band full of friends...these guys know how to play FOR a dancer and really keep it interactive. Bassam was hearbreakingly amazing as usual, and the second show featured a whole new set of talent, including a really incredible violin player from Isreal. I think I felt better about the first (June) show, I had more time to practice and get ready. The July show was right after my 5 day TESOL course and I was going on 4 hours of sleep and was exhausted. I performed Assaya (cane) for the first time ever that night, and nothing horrible happened! ;)

The Canadian Arab Federation performance was a little crazy, massive crowds, great food, amazing Ethiopian singers... We had re-positioned Nawaem, a, oriental veil number, and the Khaleegy piece. It wasn't perfect, but we made it work! The audience seemed to love it.

It's been a little crazy getting out to all the parties and weddings I've been doing. I don't drive so I've been TTC-ing it out to the ends of the earth, usually it takes me an hour and a half to get to these places. For the most part they've been a complete pleasure. People at parties are in a great mood and are very appreciative. However, interesting situations come up...I've had men waggle thier tonges at me while i'm dancing, kids complain loudly of boredom, guests dying to show me up, clients making me wait an hour and a half to go on, and oh, so much more. You gotta have a thick skin! On the other hand, I've had delighted grandparents dancing with me, big-eyed little kids join me on the dance floor, elderly women's eyes light up, Bride's-to-be learning to shimmy and having a blast, and really heartfelt thanks from almost everyone. It's such a mix of rewarding and trying at times!

I'm in talks with a company about "starring" in an instructional dvd...something for the mainstream market, low key and not too fancy. I'm excited about it because I'm being given quite a bit of artistic freedom and they seem very interested in including the history and background info of bellydancing, and I'm always interested in opportunities to educate people. I am in the process of editing the script, negotiating pay (it's more about the publicity and opportunity, not so much pay), and finding music that we can afford the liscence to. Nothing is signed yet, but it's looking good!

I'm also planning my vaction to Halifax for late August early September, and Monique and I are planning our first "Cabaret Sperpentine" show! I'm also planning on teaching a couple workshops, and hopefully performing arounf town a bit. I can't WAIT to get back to NS and just family and I are planning on going camping and I can't wait!

Well that's what I've been up to!