If you live nearby, please come see me and the rest of the Bennington Beledi Bellydancers perform this Thursday, August 25th at the Bennington Museum. We’re part of the 25-year celebration of the North Bennington Outdoor Sculpture Show (NBOSS). We’ll be dancing two 15-minute performances at 5:30 and 6:30. Click here for more info or email me at fullmoonfiberart.com.
I wake up feeling like my old self before I got covid. I’ve been thinking about tying more knots in the yarn hanging off the back of my head scarf all morning. It’s the first thing I do after letting the dogs out. I start knotting the beautifully straggly pieces of yarn to hold them together and make them stand up higher on the back of my head.
While I was at my sickest, I put thinking about our Bellydancing performance aside. It was always there in the back of my mind, but there was little I could do about it. Sometimes I would listen to the music, even dance to it in my head.
But a part of me was just discouraged.
Our performance is on Thursday, just two days from now. Tomorrow I’ll go back to class for the first time in two weeks. I feel great in the mornings, but by the time the afternoon rolls around, I’m tired. So tired I have to lay down. I don’t usually sleep, but I still need to rest. It’s not only fatigue but my back, my knee, my wrist, all the places that always mildly ache, now demand I stop for a while.
I have no idea how much or how little I’ll be able to do in class tomorrow. It will be two weeks since I felt the first symptoms of covid and since then I’ve taken only two walks and danced to two slow songs.
I tell myself not to worry about it, I’ll either be able to do it or I won’t.
Last week my teacher Julz called me. She told me how they’ve figured out what order we’ll be in during the first song of the set so that I won’t have to start any of the songs. “If you get tired,” she tells me,” just hand the lead to someone else or stay in the chorus so you don’t have to dance at all.”
Even though our dance is improvisational, there is still a structure for where we stand and how we take the lead. Everyone else follows whoever is leading then they hand the lead off to someone else. We also take turns dancing in duets and trios, the rest of the people who aren’t dancing stand in a line behind the dancers keeping the beat going by zilling and doing one continuous move at a time.
Not only was it a relief to hear that I had these ways of opting out of dancing if I got tired, but I loved that the class was thinking of me and figuring out how to make it easier since I haven’t been able to practice with them. They could have said that I shouldn’t dance in the performance, but they chose to figure out how to include me instead.
When I mentioned this to Julz, she said, “Just like the families we didn’t have growing up. I’m grateful for my dance family”
I cried a little when I heard that.
Yesterday, as I was beginning to lag again at the thought of dancing, Julz texted me a picture of the headscarf she would be wearing at the performance. It had metal pieces on the top and was loaded with purple and white flowers and feathers.
She put it together with thread and hotglue.
I couldn’t help thinking of the book I just read How You Get Famous by Nicole Pasulka about the drag scene in Brooklyn. How the performers had taken drag to a new level, reaching beyond the traditional boundaries of big hair, high heels and lip sinking. They blurred the lines between drag, performance, and art.
We are not in that category of performance. But Bellydancing is probably as close to drag as I’ll ever get.
So when Julz suggested I make my own headscarf, “You’re an artist,” she said, “make it your own.” my heart swelled and the creative part of my brain sparkled and crackled.
In my mind, I immediately begin going through the special fabrics in my studio, thinking about my Bellydancing jewelry and my little spice drawer filled with broken pieces of metal and jewelry.
The idea of dressing up and dancing which seemed a bit daunting was now something I was excited to do. Julz had sparked my creative self. And now, even if I found that I couldn’t dance, I’d make my head scarf for when I could.
I’m still working on the head scarf, but I have a good idea of what I’ll be doing with it and what it will look like when I’m done. My plan is to add some fresh Zinnia’s to it on the evening of the performance.
Now I’ve got to do some work. The hens are gathered outside my window and I have a couple of people who would like a potholder with them on it. But later this afternoon, after a nap, I’ll get back to the headscarf.
When it’s all done, I’ll ask Jon to take a picture of me wearing it and put it up on my blog. Hopefully, I’ll be wearing it Thursday night too.
If you haven’t already, check out Julz’s blog Julzie Style. It’s as creative, fun, outrageous and loving as she is.