I’m in my studio and dressed to dance.
My sage-colored tiered skirt is tucked into either side of my waist to make my hips look bigger. Underneath are purple Harem pants. A teal coin sash is tied around it all, making a swishing noise whenever I move. I’m wearing a long-sleeved red choli and light blue tank top with the words “Support Your Local Bellydancer” on it.
Cold air leaks in through the cracks between the floorboards, but I know once I start dancing even my bare feet will warm up.
My computer is propped up on three of my biggest art books so I can see it while dancing and I practice the torso twist as Emily ques up the music. It’s a ten-minute mix of one slow song sandwiched between two fast ones.
Kathleen and Emily are in the gym where we began dancing over the summer. I’m in my studio, Kat is in her living room and still we’re all dancing together.
I’m watching Kathleen on my computer screen, her back to me with hands on her hips. I’m still waiting for the music to begin when Kathleen starts to shimmy. There is silence but I follow her anyway, imagining a beat I can’t hear. Halfway into it, a tinny sound fills my studio and I recognize Don Omar’s Salio El Sol. The quality of the music ebbs and flows, the volume varies. Sometimes Kathleen freezes for a moment or the image slows and stretches out in a blur.
But it doesn’t matter, I just keep dancing, following as best I can.
That same day Kat slipped on the ice and banged up her knee just before class. So she’s dancing sitting down. “I’ll just do the arm movements,” she tells us.
And I think she’s heroic to show up.
Emily and Kathleen figured out how to bring our Bellydancing classes to us at home. They’re constantly tweaking the camera and sound trying to figure out what works best.
Between sets Kathleen crouches down in front of the camera, talking constantly. For some reason when the music stops, the volume is so low we can’t hear each other talk. But if Kathleen keeps talking eventually the system adjusts to the new volume.
“There you are, “I say to let her know I can hear her.
After class Kathleen and Emily clean the whole space, sanitizing the floors and wiping down surfaces.
It is far from perfect. It is the essence of Wabi-Sabi. The Idea of beauty through continual change and imperfection.
And it is beautiful.
Not just the dancing which I love so much, but the effort and dedication of the people who show up. And also, the understanding that for various reasons, Zoom Classes don’t work for some of us.
It feels to me like we have more Zoom Bellydancing behind us than in our future. I can imagine us dancing together in person again. Although I don’t know how long it will be till we can dance without social distancing and wearing masks.
But sometimes when I’m falling asleep I see something else inspired by Julz’s idea of a Moon Dance Ceremony.
I picture all of us in a field, dancing around a fire, under a full moon. The earth warm and soft beneath our bare feet. No masks, no social distancing. Our skirts swirling with joy, our coin sashes, and jewelry catching the moonlight and pulsing like fireflies in June.