Dance-iversary: Part 1


It's been one year since I decided I wanted to be a belly dancer when I grew up. I had recently finished my degree, I was 21, just performed outside Newfoundland for the first time and I thought I knew everything about belly dance. The important thing is that I promptly learned how little I knew, I haven't really performed outside Newfoundland again (Winter Sparkle potentially excepted), and I want to be a belly dancer when I grow up even more now.

I was in the metro in Montreal with my sister when it hit me all of a sudden. We had just said goodbye to the other OhMaya girls who were about to hop on a plane and come home to Newfoundland, after our first workshop away experience. At various points throughout the sixteen or so hours of dance that weekend I had felt peaceful, excited, stupid, knowledgeable, happy, frustrated, flattered and embarrassed. But I had also felt determined. Not once did I feel like giving up or not dancing anymore. By Monday, that feeling had started to grow.

We went to Ethereal Tribal's studio for a private lesson with Andrea Fryett, and when got the metro again afterwards, I was quiet for a long time after we said goodbye to the girls. We wandered down to wait for the train and all of a sudden I exploded and told Amanda that I was sure, more than anything ever, that I definitely for sure wanted to be a belly dancer, professionally, for my job, for my whole job some day. It all kind of went from there, but I'll always remember that second in the station, starting at the fluorescent lights in the ceiling, when it dawned on me. A real live epiphany. The fact that it happened after one of the most grueling and scary weekends of my life (I've done way worse now though!) is all the more affirming to me. I want this, more than I did a year ago, if that's possible.

I've gone away to study a bunch of times now and I'm more hooked than ever. I've dumped 80+ hours into those workshops this year. Hundreds of hours of personal practice. Dozens and dozens of hours of choreography and marketing.

What do I have to show for myself?

I don't know!

I'm a way better dancer, technically, artistically-- in every way, I'm pretty sure. I'm challenging myself all the time to get better by going away and forming relationships with my peers in dance (in terms of dance type and level) instead of just contenting myself by being a big fish in a small pond. That's gotten to be very important to me. I say in the sidebar that it's hard to make a go of professional dance in Newfoundland, but I rarely elaborate on the hows and whys. The reality is that Newfoundland dance (at the very least, belly dance) is an echo chamber and since not a whole lot gets filtered in it's easy for things here to stagnate. Too many metaphors, but you get the idea. Hell, I'm pretty sure that I've done more professional/out of province training than anyone else in St. John's, and possibly Newfoundland at this point. That's not really a bragging point, so much as a depressing point-- I haven't even been dancing three years fully yet.

I've performed tons, gotten comfortable onstage, tried many different voices on for size and worked my ass off to get better. I've opened a studio with some great girls to awesome praise and media interest.

A little part of me was looking at this one year thing as a milestone, to see how much better I'd be. And I am, but it's more subtle than that little part hoped. More of a period of growth than of explosion. But the important thing is that one year is a tiny, tiny amount of time, and I've got years to hone what I do and get better. I need to be less critical of what I do and learn to see what I actually am. I've got a voice (this week!) and I'm not afraid to use it.

Ok, look for Part 2 of this entry a bit later! It will include, duh duh duh, my goals!


  1. It's like the dancing version of Julie and Julia. I think projects, goals and 1-year journeys are great things. Some people just sit around and wait for things to happen. Some go out and bring it to them. You might have moments now of not being sure but it will pass and you'll be proud of your accomplishments!


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