I think 2013 will stay in my memory as the year I actually became a dancer. Just a very amateur, baby bellydancer, mind you, but a dancer nonetheless.
I upped the learning with my weekly classes. Lacy’s regular classes remained the foundation, with several new choreographies and semi-regular ATS® classes. Jenny and Nawar’s intermediate tag-team technique classes started to be too much physically and travel-wise, though, so I decided they weren’t the best format for me. Instead, I learned that Aziza Nawal, she who I want to be when I grow up, was teaching on Wednesday nights in Sandy Springs, right on the way home from work. After nine months I know I’ll never BE Aziza, LOL, but she’s an excellent person from whom to learn at this level. That gives me a routine of two to three classes/rehearsals a week, which is about what I can take.
I challenged myself with workshops — sometimes TOO much. Anasma and Amy Sigil are both admirable dancers but they are so far above me that I could not absorb, much less implement, what they had to offer. Frustrating!! I couldn’t keep up with Zoe Jakes’ classes at TribalCon, either. At 56 (now 57) and not exactly superb physical condition, I see these twenty and thirty-somethings and wish, oh wish so badly, that I had discovered bellydance much, much earlier in my life. On the other hand, April Rose at TribalCon, Jaki Hawthorne’s ATS® combos workshop, and two Athens-bound road trips for workshops with Amani and Aziza were well worth it.
Classes and workshops weren’t what made me actually become a dancer, though. That credit goes to the Northside Tribe, Lacy’s student troupe that finally came together in the spring of 2013 after some urging by me and several of her other students. ATS® was one reason — it IS a group dance, after all, and having a consistent group with which to dance does help make you better. The other? We wanted to perform, but not necessarily solo. Plus Lacy herself was pretty psyched about having a group of dancers to play with, create for, and dress up like her personal dolls, if you will. Shimmy Mob 2013 started the ball rolling in May; then she resurrected “Habibi Min Zaman” with a low-key appearance at the Mountain Park Swing-a-Thon.
We made our real Atlanta debut as Northside Tribe at the July Night in the Oasis!
Fall turned into a real performance boot camp (Lacy referred to it as our “hazing”), and that’s what did it. Samora’s student showcase at Nicola’s Restaurant, Halloween in the Oasis, the Awalim Halloween Carnivale, and the Jendayi/Jahara Phoenix Dia de los Muertos show in a four week span was an exhiliarating endurance test that did a lot to get me over my previous overwhelming stage fright.
Two more December performances, one with Inara and her troupe and the other at the Global Dance Holiday Party, ended the year.
What will 2014 bring? I’m not sure yet, but Northside Tribe has two performances scheduled for early January, plus we’ll be making our TribalCon debut (OMG!! SQUEEE!!) in February. With that kind of start it has to be promising!
Photographs used courtesy of Larisa Gilbert, Barbara Smith, Heather Payne Davis, and Jaki Hawthorne, copyright © by their respective photographers.