I didn’t get pictures of the Pride Parade. I was too busy walking in it and zilling along with the other women. Callie and Trish’s kids held the Bennington Beledi Bellydancing Banner and the rest of us followed.
We zilled to the beat of the music the band was making in the truck ahead of us. Behind us, there were people on rollerskates. But I didn’t get to see the rest of the people in the parade.
Those watching waved rainbow flags and danced along with the music. All kinds of people were there, and I felt good being able to show our support for the LGBTQ community by marching and dancing.
It didn’t rain as predicted, the sun shone on us all.
But they had already rescheduled the performances to be inside the Unitarian Universalist Church. The stage area was too small for us to perform on so we chose a larger area to dance off to the side.
There weren’t a lot of people in the audience and Julz gave the talk about how it doesn’t matter how many people are watching. Kathleen reminded us that we dance for ourselves.
A good audience is a bonus.
We started off in a circle doing Gratitude, a dance movement that is our way of giving thanks for being able to dance. Then we danced for 17 minutes to five songs. Callie and Trish danced while balancing swords on their heads to one song. And we all danced to two slow songs and two fast ones.
Jon took a ton of pictures, all the ones on this post except for the one of Julz before the parade. He missed the parade but had enough to do to find a place to park and get to the performance space.
For me, it was the best time I ever had performing.
I practiced smiling in the car as I drove to the parade and smiled as I zilled all through that too. “Remember,” Julz said to me before we began walking, say to yourself, “This is me.”
And I puffed up, my spine clicking into place, my shoulders sliding down my back, my chin square with my neck, my lips curling up at the ends.
I had fun. I loved walking down the street in the hot sun and enjoyed taking the lead on the slow songs and ditching it on the fast songs.
(We change the lead constantly throughout each song. And again, the dance isn’t choreographed, we all just follow the leader and never know who will lead next. We also danced in a chorus. This means that three or four of us stand in a line, zilling doing a slow dance move in sync with each other while two or three dancers dance in front of us.)
At one point I was following Callie and moving my hips in the wrong direction. But I just kept at it till I could make an effortless correction. I doubt anyone in the audience noticed.
Mostly, I played it safe leading with the easy moves I am most comfortable and familiar with. But as I took the lead during the last slow song I got the timing just right on a move that worked perfectly with the music and heard the supportive yips from my fellow dancers behind me.
That always feels good.
It turned out that the audience was a great one.
They were right there with us the whole way. And when they started clapping to the beat (Even Jon put down his camera to clap along) in the last song, we dancers in the chorus clapped our zills together with them. It was completely spontaneous a direct connection between us all.
Jon said it was the best performance he ever saw us give. He was so moved he felt like crying.
I’m not sure why it felt especially good today. I think it was partly the atmosphere of the Pride Parade and the people who were there. But we were all in sync too. It’s the first time I have had the chance to perform with all the women in my class. In the past, there were always one or two people who couldn’t make it because of work or other obligations.
Maybe that had something to do with it. After all those years of learning and practicing together, sticking it out through the pandemic it felt like a kind of rebirth.
Or a coming together, a celebration of years of dancing together.