Monday, September 26, 2011

New Beginnings

Something touched my shoulder. I whirled and saw the Lord of Beasts looking at me from the gap ten feet away.
 Ilona Andrews, Magic Bites

When I joined Mecha's class six weeks ago, I had no idea I would soon be experiencing my first troupe performance, let alone hearing words like awesome, cute, precise and pizzazz in reference to it. I had joined her class as a way to get back to belly dancing while waiting to officially join Azalea, the beginner Egyptian performance class taught at the same school by Thia, the school's owner. Azalea didn't kick off until this last Tuesday.

When I showed up for the "advanced beginner" class six weeks ago, I was simply trying to mimic the moves of the very adept teacher as she wended her way through routines. Three weeks ago she announced that she had permission to debut her class as a troupe to Shakira's "Ojos Asi." Since I was about to leave the class the following week, I asked her to copy me the FaceBook link to the event so I could come watch. Her response? An incredulous, "You're just going to watch?!"

"You want me to dance with you?"

"Just let me know how you feel about it on Thursday." I realized I had two weeks to memorize a choreography that I hadn't expected to perform. So my two-a-week sessions, including my private lessons with Kelsey in tribal fusion, suddenly expanded to three when it was time for me to start with Azalea. Mecha happened to be subbing for the class, so I got extra time with her to pick up another segment of the choreography.

Each night I put in about an hour trying to get through the moves, to the neglect of much of my other training. Azalea started in full swing on Tuesday, launching immediately into drills of my first choreography there. I was consistently called out on various issues, mostly due to the tribal style I had picked up and need to tweak for Egyptian dance. It also comes as no surprise as most of the girls have at least a year or more of belly dancing in Thia's schools. They say it's a test and a compliment to be picked on or singled out in her class. She wants to see how you respond to criticism and she only does it with dancers in whom she sees potential. But let me tell you it's rough, and I want to improve so she doesn't keep stopping the class for my personal instruction.

Saturday, I and the other girls in New Beginnings--Tammy, Heather, Rebecca, Kathey and one other girl I feel guilty about not remembering her name--arrived at Sugar Space at 7 pm, one hour before performance to block out our performance. I was so nervous and running late that I hadn't realized until I took off my heels to practice that I was wearing a mismatched pair of shoes. We were third in the lineup and I was hoping I was going to do a lot better than our last practice, trying to clear my mind.

It wasn't long until we took the stage following a drum solo, a incredibly fluid dancer and a very long announcement introducing our first performance. I couldn't see the audience clearly due to the lighting and once we were about 16 beats in, the room was full of beat clapping guiding us through. I lit up my smile and flirted as best I could with the audience to the fast paced music, and before we knew it, the routine was ended. I blew a couple of kisses at the audience as we exited to the applause.

Once we returned to our seats, I kept hearing how they loved my costume and how awesome the performance was. Thia also told me, "You were awesome." I sought out my private instructor who had come to see me so I could thank her for coming and she said the same thing, complimenting me on a cute smile as well. I confessed that I made a few mistakes, and she insisted that there weren't any and she was watching for them. She didn't see them. I had successfully covered over them. But this being a community and we being beginners I certainly wasn't go to let the few words go to my head until I saw what the announcer Yasmina, herself a long time veteran and organizer of Night at the Casbah, posted on Mecha's wall:

Your solo had so much passion and left the audience wanting more Mecha! AND finally--what can I say about your babies-"New Beginnings?" They stole the show last night--the audience went wild--AND if that was their first performance--we are going to have to hold onto our seats for their second show! NEVER have seen a first-time group perform with such precision and pizazz!

I am flying higher than a kite. I see my private instructor tomorrow and back to Azalea class the day after. I am also back to only those two lessons and an occasional drop in on Mecha's class--that is, unless there is  a second performance.

Hugs and Blessings,
Sofia Featherwind

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Finding Meaning in Life

Suzanne's move toward divorce was the turning point-it gave them "the gift of desperation." For the first time, Michael seemed willing to explore just how painful his life had become. During one session, when they were discussing a heavy snowstorm in the Denver area, Michael mentioned that his 64-year-old father had just missed his first day of work in 20 years. I asked Michael what that meant to him. His eyes welling up with tears, Michael said he wished his father had enjoyed his life more. I wondered aloud if Michael had ever wished the same thing for himself. "I'm scared," he replied. "I'm scared of what would happen if I stopped working all the time. I'm even scared to stop worrying about the business-scared that I might be overlooking something important that would make my whole business crumble before my eyes."

Christopher K. Germer PhD. The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion: Freeing Yourself from Destructive Thoughts and Emotions (Kindle Locations 312-316). Kindle Edition.

I program for a living and get paid well for it because it's something that I turned out to be good at. As a child, it certainly never was one of the things on my list of careers. It wasn't dancing, singing or riding the range. I have a Master's Degree and wrote a thesis in data mining while trying to prepare for a compensatory career.

That career paid my loyalty back three times with layoffs and the resultant tears of feeling betrayed. No, I don't find meaning in my job; but that doesn't mean I give it my all when I'm there or not continue my education in my spare time. However, my spare time is mine and it's dedicated to expression.

I'm sitting on my couch--in partial costume, because I don't have class until 8 pm tonight and last week I was the only one to show up at the belly dance session not in costume. Therefore, with a little encouragement, I'm dressing for the occasion. This is my next to last lesson with the Baby Bellies class before my first day in the troupe class. I've already practiced my private lessons for the week today, zils and a couple of combo moves. The first combo is a traveling outer hip circle I am going to use when I perform to "Lantern" by Beats Antique and the other is a sequence of neck circle, chest circle and outer hip circle. It's fun, but the neck circle is hard.

Last night I took on the duties of the Welcoming Chair for my church, and wrote the schedule for the next two months today, sending it to all the greeters. I also have the added responsibility of facilitating the Newcomer's  Welcome every third Sunday as well as greeting people on the first Sunday of each month and stocking pamphlets. My free time is rapidly being depleted again. As a result I almost didn't make it to the free showing of The Virgin Suicides last night. I have dance class tonight, my support group meeting tomorrow and need to take the cat to get her next round of shots on Saturday. Did I mention that I lost a toenail this morning?

Meanwhile, my insurance claim for surgery is formally moving into the appeals process with the signed appeal request that my broker mailed to SelectHealth. They had the gall to deny payment to my Ob/Gyn, claiming that it was a complication due to a procedure they don't cover. We're trying to get the doctor to send in a letter stating otherwise. I bet SelectHealth is just hoping I'll go away.

That's about all the news for now, with the exception of a domestic dispute last night of a neighbor friend that I had to call the police for.

Hugs and God Bless,
Sophie Jean