My Coin Bra, Bellydancing At The Farmers Market

My Coin Bra, as it looks today.

I cringed and apologized to Callie.   We were dancing facing each other and when she raised her right arm  and turned to the left doing a Stalk Walk, I got confused about which arm I was supposed to raise and which way to turn.

I can easily follow someone when I’m behind them, but when we’re facing each other, it’s like looking at a mirror image and it often throws me off.  I raised one arm, though better of it, then lifted the other.

Julz, one of my Bellydancing teachers, was watching. She told me to go with my first instinct, even it was wrong, it looks better to raise the wrong arm, than to keep switching them trying figure it out.

“Just smile and act like it’s what you meant to do”, she said.

For the past three weeks, in my Bellydancing Class,  we’ve been practicing for performing at the Bennington Farmers Market on Saturday, June 22nd from 10-1pm.    And for the past two weeks I’ve been wearing a another part of the costume I’ll be dancing in, getting used to dancing in different clothes.

Last week I pulled the skirt that Emily lent me over my purple skirt, adding weight and volume.  Eventually, I’ll also be wearing harem pants under the two skirts and some kind of belt over it all.

Yesterday I tried out the coin bra that Jon bought me after I danced at the hafla in December.

I didn’t ask him to get it for me, but when he saw all the other dancers were wearing them he couldn’t resist getting one for me.  I thanked him and  folded  it  up in the bottom of the trunk I keep my Bellydancing clothes in.  I knew that I would only be wearing it if I was performing and I wasn’t ready to think about doing that just then.

The layers of long skirts, coin bras, make-up and turbans or  flowers in our hair is all a part of the American Tribal Style (ATS) Bellydancing costume.  A few years ago, when I was learning to ride my pony, Chloe, I wrote about how I hadn’t worn a bra since high school, but found horseback riding much more comfortable with one, than without.

Now, I’m not only wearing a bra, but it’s on the outside my outfit and covered in metal coins.  The other women in the class explained how they’ve attached different charms and metals to their bras, or special trims,  making them unique and  personal.

My mind sparked at that idea, thinking of what I would add to my coin bra to make it my own.

Since ATS is an improvisational dance, I won’t be leading during our performance. For me, following is challenging enough.

As we practiced last night, I found that I was too busy dancing to be nervous.  The dance forces me to be in the moment, paying close attention to whoever is leading so I’ll know what to do from one moment to the next.  And there were plenty of moments when I wasn’t sure what to do, if I was lifting the right arm or stepping on the right foot.

The less I thought about it, the better I did.  The more I enjoyed myself the better I danced.

At the end of the class, Kathleen, our other teacher, told us the trick of pressing the tip of our tongues behind the back of our upper teeth, which relaxes the face muscles into a Mona Lisa-like smile.

And Julz reminded us that, no matter what happens,  if we make a mistake or are unsure if we’re doing something right, make it look like you wanted to do it that way.  The audience will never know the difference she said, as long as do it with confidence, they’ll believe that’s the way it’s supposed to be.


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