June was a very busy month, and looking back, I just don't know how I got through it all!
Father's day was the 19th, and as many of us know, it's a very busy day for bellydancers; there is always a demand for lecture-demonstration shows in nursing homes, and these are always some of my favorite gigs to have. For starters, the folks in care facilities are some of the most gracious and grateful audiences one could ever hope for; they are mostly from an earlier generation and therefor have a much longer attentin span than many people out there in the world today. They're not trying to multitask 24/7 and they're not overwhelmed or on "sensory overload" the way the rest of us so often are. This means they can pay very close attention and absorb some of the subtle nuances that can be lost in a "lots of excitement all the time" situation. Because of this, I have an opportunity to present some things that wouldn't be appropriate in a more lively setting, perhaps numbers that build in dynamic over the course of a piece, or that might be too "serious" for the nightclub setting.
Another thing I enjoy about performing in care facilites is that part of the show consists of lecture and explanation, so I get to learn new things too. It's important for me to brush up on my planned material before I do a presentation, and in the course of my study, I always seem to discover something new. As a closet academic, I love this. The more 'ya know, the more 'ya know 'ya don't know!
Nursing home gigs are often the first "baby" gigs dancers get, and as such, I sometimes hear more established dancers pooh-pooh them, as they're not very glamorous and they're not in posh settings. For me, however, these jobs serve a valuable purpose. There are the obvious public service, educational, giving-back-to-the-community aspects of course, and this is certainly of value to us all and our responsibility as conscientous artists. And then there are the (secret!) benefits to me: I get a platform and an excuse for some of the works-in-progress I may be developing or something I learned in a recent workshop, and I can test this material on an appreciative audience. I have to brush up on some of the pieces I like to keep in rotation for corporate events, and by doing those numbers regularly, they're all that closer to being ready if I get called on short notice. Sometimes I've spent a great deal of time learning a choreography for just one event, and want to get the satisfaction of doing it again (with permission, of course) and getting more mileage out of all that rehearsal. By the same token, I can break in new costumes (face it, that new costume will NEVER show it's true nature in the living room or rehearsal studio, will it?!), a new veil wrap, a new prop, or so forth in front of a discerning but very forgiving audience. It is a goal for the rest of 2011 to cultivate this part of my business.
Father's Day also featured a concert of contemporary, experiemental, and classic Middle Eastern Dance at the Anahid Sofian Studio. It was a short but high-quality concert and I had the pleasure of rehearsing and performing Azza Amon's veil choreography to Aicha alongside her and my friends Tammy and Caitlyn. I believe this concert was the first of what Anahid would like to be a quarterly series of studio concerts featuring diverse styles. I wish I had photos from this ... perhaps I will, soon.
It was with mixed feelings that I boarded a plane the very next day and took off for ten days in Oregon. On the one hand, I was hesitant to leave NYC with so many projects begging for my attention and so many exciting things going on; conversely, I hadn't had a chance to be really, really "off duty" in a very long time. I didn't realize how wound up I really was, and having a week of total retreat (no phone, no internet, no TV) with good food, fresh air, plenty of sound sleep, some excellent bodywork, and loving kindness with Mom has given me a fresh perspective and a new lease on life. I feel like a different person! Why must we always learn and re-learn this the hard way?
My goal for July is to refocus my energy on developing and cultivating new opportunities in dance and to de-clutter my life, physically, mentally, and energetically. Although my enthusiasm is boundless, my time, energy, and resources are finite, so it's time to focus on what I love most and what will serve me and my fellow creatures best. Stay tuned ....
My blessings to all of you and your loved ones!
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