“Ok”, Julz said,” let’s remember Maria can’t do that move.” She was sitting in front of the class watching Kathleen, Callie, Emily and me dance. It was our first practice session for the Farmers Market in June.
The week before last, as I was leaving class, Kathleen asked me if I wanted to dance at the Bennington Farmers Market. I’d be mostly in the chorus (the women who do simple moves and Zill standing behind the dancers who are out front) and dance in some of the slow dances. I wouldn’t have to lead.
When I reminded Kathleen that I can’t Zill and dance yet, she said not to worry, after dancing for three hours, I might just learn.
I agreed without having to even think about it.
It seemed a good limited way to practice dancing in public. The audience at the Farmers Market is mostly there to buy food and the audience is sporadic. Also, I know that two or three of the women in my class won’t be able to dance that day, so I’ll be helping them out, just by being there.
And I feel like I’m ready for it.
Julz was looking out for me when she said I couldn’t do the move. She was saying to anyone who might be leading at the Farmers Market, that if they were dancing with me they should leave that move out.
This is part of the way the Sisterhood of Bennington Beledi Bellydancing works. We don’t intentionally do anything to make anyone look bad. We take care of each other.
I experienced this same feeling of sisterhood when Callie and Emily and I were dancing together in class last night.
We were in a circle facing each other. I could see both Callie and Emily looking at me. Their eyes big, dark, round and intense. They were more than just looking at me, they were talking to me with their eyes.
But I couldn’t understand what they were saying.
We give all kinds of signals to each other when we’re dancing. It’s improvisational, so paying attention to who ever is leading is how we know what to do next. And the leader giving good clues is essential.
Last night I was completely lost when Callie and Emily started moving around the circle we were dancing in, doing a move called the bump. Both of them were trying to let tell me what to do with their bodies and their eyes, but I was clueless.
By the time I figured it out, I was flushed and laughing, but we just danced though it and the next time Callie did the same move, I got it.
Last night, I woke up seeing Callie’s and Emily’s eyes trying to communicate with me and couldn’t help thinking of Red, our Border Collie, and how he uses his eyes to herd the sheep. There’s something primal about it. There was no anger in Callie’s and Emily’s eyes, only an urgency. It made me realize how much I’ve come to trust them and the other women in my class.
I had fun practicing for dancing at the Farmer’s Market last night. We talked a little about how we would coordinate the colors we wore and about the music we’d dance to.
And the dancing felt different to me.
Because for the first time, I felt like I was working towards something, not just learning. And I felt like all of us, even the women who wouldn’t be dancing, were working towards something together.
Dancing at the Bennington Farmers Market last year.