Misha, Dark Cupcake of Goodness
MishaThe girl with the green eyes
Complicated. Unique. Intuitive. Sarcastic. Loyal. Feline. Soft yet Firm.
Sometimes Dark, Sometimes Shiney.
Artist. Belly Dancer.
Girl Scout. Educator Extrordinairre
Reading: Pox Americana, Geisha: A Life, Kabuki
Costuming: James' Ren Costume
Planning: beaded bedlah
Sewing: piratey goodness
Craving: C.C. Lemon!
Reviewing: Mystery, Desire Fantasy Bellydance
Working: 2 grant final reports
Move of the Month: jewel snaps
Layout template by pamelajoy and misha
The random musings and rambling thoughts expressed here are my own sweet delicacies. Read the chaos at yer own risk and enjoy the ride!
P.S. - the "good" stuff is usually friends-only...leave a post to be added
today was a lesson in triumphing any way possible. work started a bit late today, and i had music in the background as i did some house chores and checked my email. a song came on that i really adore - a shaabi piece - and before i knew it, i was up and dancing. and, not only was i dancing, but at 8 am after an extremely long and draining work week, i was SMILING. smiling, playing coy, grinning, eager to put each foot in front of the other as i bounced around the house. and, hey, not only that but it was all egyptian style, all the time. WHERE DID THAT COME FROM?
i guess, maybe without sounding too sappy, the heart.
finally...finally i was BACK. in my heart, not so much in my head, just letting my body do it's thing. and BOY did it do it's thing! there were movements there i have NEVER done before...amazing, fun, adorable movements that i WISH i had cataloged (but really maybe it's better not to try to force them). finally, finally, finally everything pent up came tumbling out.
and then, later that afternoon, it happened AGAIN!
i was waiting for my pilates instructor (who was running late), and curled up on the stoop trying to dodge raindrops. and then i thought, well, what the heck! let's listen to some music. i put the same song on my iPod (it moved me before, why not try again?) and...sure enough...i was dancing like nothing had ever happened. like seeing a good friend after far too long, dance wiggled its way back in, warming me and making me smile. geez, i'm a sap - it makes me smile right now to think of the feeling i had as i danced...
so why is this so damn important? this is a HUGE thing for me. because, up to this point, i hadn't really wanted to dance much at all.
once upon a time, i felt carefree and ecstatic when i danced. the world melted away, as it should, and i had FUN. i felt like dance gave me a way to connect with my body, it made me more confident, and helped me be fit too...all those things we as teachers tell our students bellydance will do for you.
but then it became a chore. a job. a 'oh man, i REALLY don't want to dance tonight because i have SO MUCH going on' thing some times. other times it was a 'the dancers in this town are pretty nasty/not supportive and i'm too scared to dance around them' thing. my ego and confidence in my dance eroded as i had my mentor say 'THAT'S not egyptian' as i danced my heart, 'you're doing it WRONG' or 'your technique is sacrificed for your dance.' in my head, i know these things can be true at times, but it pushed me so far into my head, and dance became a worry not a release. i taught extensively, which i enjoy, and that was good...i could demonstrate and play. but when i got on stage i was crippled with self doubt. i even have a troupe, that i manage even now, and i'm fine with them...but when it came time to solo i simply could not feel confident in my dance. i kept hearing a constant monkey in my head chattering 'are you SURE you're doing this right? you've already done that move! your students dance better! your technique is AWFUL!' i figure many of us have been there before, but like anyone who sinks into depression, this particular dis-ease had become increasingly awful and had really stolen away the joy of my personal dance.
today i got my personal dance back. after 2 years of not doing much, being scared, turning down opportunities, i feel like i'm well on my way to being whole again. it will take a while, to be sure, and i'll cope with the injury i've sustained at the same time too. i will be re-learning, and adapting. but i'll be doing it with the knowledge that the dance is in my body and will never leave again.
now, excuse me, but i'm going to shut up and go dance.
Day Seven was a LONG DAY. Again - Feb is a brutal month for me at work, and trying to do this dance thing along with everything else is proving harder than i thought it'd be.
But I STILL want to do it. Not giving up!
But today killed me. it was a second 12 hour day in a row, in a 7 day work week. after leaving work around 9, getting home around 930, i was pooped. there was no dancing for me. the heart was willing, but the body could barely drag itself into the bed. and yet, well, the fact that the spark was in me...and that i was really disappointed that i couldn't dance (not in myself in a failure sort of way, but in the fact that i'd been so looking forward to it) was...delightful.
i'll put on my dancing shoes tomorrow, and take another small victory today.
another day, another 12 hour shift. but somehow, even though there were some nasty moments at work today with everyone on pins and needles (we're all chipping in to cover the recent retirement of our secretary, which means everyone is cranky from doing their job AND hers) i still came home excited and ready to dance. no sitting and vegging for me - i was inspired by my time spent day 5 (yup. didn't really get into it until day 5. sigh) and so i really wanted to see what today would bring.
i sat down to read the love note. today's theme was all about feeling the music. that echoed with me because, well, i often feel torn when i dance about what music to use. i want to be seen as a "legit" dancer who knows her stuff, who can match style to music, instrument, and rhythm...but i am often pulled to dance to all sorts of weird stuff. so i'd like to work on really becoming better about letting the music speak through my body and letting my limbs do the moves they want to use to express the sound. i suspect that if i was a bit better about listening i'd be more successful about having the proper movements come out anyway, and not need to worry about 'ooooh this is turkish music...i must dance turkish style!'
so tonight i went to dance in the bathroom (i know i know. i need a dance space, but it's the only place with a really good mirror...setting intention now to try to make it out to the hubby's dojo and actually clear a space for *me*...but that will come later). in any case, i turned down the lights and set up my computer to play. ah, but don't you love kismet? i just set my itunes to shuffle and NOTHING BUT TAKSIM played. yes. really. i even tried to get it to play different stuff several times but no luck. and so i figured, well, i'll go with that. so i did violin, kawala, kanoun, rast, and nay. not only did i get constant taksim, but I pretty much got a good variety of different instruments. i admit to hating the new itunes but this was a nice glitch and i went with it and did 20 minutes of work with taksim.
i once took a workshop with tamalyn dalal (it was EXCELLENT) where she taught about the different instruments and how to dance them with different parts of the body. she used a lot of taksims. and so, tonight, harkening back to that i decided to try my hand at her ideas. she'd suggested you use the part of the body that is used to play the instrument to focus the movements there. of course you can do other things, but this is a good place to start. i applied that principle tonight. i was dancing in front of a mirror (are we supposed to do that? not sure...) and also paying a bit of attention to the instrument and how it would be played, so this may not have been enough letting go, but i did find myself changing stylistically and movements to match the music. the kawala and nay pulled me up to my toes, reaching to the sky and undulating and leaning with the windy, reedy voice. the violin and rast had me grounded, arms snaking about, chest heaving. and the kanoun well, that was a tough one! mostly i shimmied and vibrated, but it was fun doing a bit of experimenting.
at the end i was exhausted and exhilirating and sweating - it was hard work! My brain still is arguing "this is NOT a bellydance movement" sometimes and, as i watched myself a bit in the mirror i saw a lot of stuff that was not strictly classical oriental style movements. Which, after nearly 10 years of dance, I know better than to say. but I think i'm afraid of failure and of not being able to still dance well after taking so long of a break. does throwing in different movements, changing my body line, leaning and swaying, and not having 100% perfect technique (sacrificing it to move more with the music and less precision) mean that i've slipped? or does it mean that i've actually grown?
day five, we received a love note about accountability. fair enough. message received, loud and clear. and, really, 2013 has started off as the Year of Accountability. i've tried to make myself create a personal yoga practice, and so far am very delighted to say that i've only missed a few days of this new year. generally, the practice is small - often only 15 to 20 minutes a day - but it is growing and my enjoyment and love of it is too.
and so, i hope, that with my body stronger and mostly healed from the injury that took me out of dancing two years ago, i hope that i will be able to do the same with dance and rediscover my love of this art.
tonight i read most of the other love notes before starting. some really spoke to me, some i skimmed through, mostly because i have a lot on my plate tonight. the silence one intrigued me and i decided to dance around my house in the dark. this is pretty dangerous, as our living room is fraught with furniture that i soon discovered my night vision didn't make out. but other than a few bumps and bruises i did pretty well. i also decided to dance without any music. i set my timer on my computer and began.
i don't have a dedicated dance space, not really. so with the lights off, the only bit of light shot in from the front door window. it's clear stained glass, but as the night approached it threw a clear bright ray of light into almost like a spotlight. as i danced, a story unfolded. a battle began, between the inky blackness of the kitchen (the room directly inside the door) and the little pool of light in front of the door. i didn't bellydance, not really. but instead what came out were leaps and lunges, pushes and pulls as the light fought the dark for the little dancer trapped in between. i have no idea where this story came from - imagery inspired by some of the love notes i guess - but at times i'd be dancing in that warm little circle of light, arms outstretched, bathing in joy...and other times i'd be sucked into the shadows in the dreary kitchen, hunched over, head hanging down, struggling to get back to the light. my steps were leaps in the light, turns and joyous bounds of gratitude for the light shining on my skin. in the dark it was a fight, dynamic tension and sorrow. i would press up against the door, reaching for the light, stretching up to absorb it. or i would slink into the night, cover myself in shadows, and undulate in the shades. the emotions were different and it was so intense to feel this come out without any music, unbidden.
this was a really amazing experience and, while not necessarily the bellydance practice i was hoping for, it was fantastic to let my body just MOVE.
Day two in the 90 day challenge...still not really fully taking part. Sigh. But, then again, I seem to be participating at the level at which I can, at least for now. And that, in itself, is still a triumph for me.
Today was a rough day at work not because of anything in particular that happened but, rather, due to its length. I wound up working about 12 hours with only a brief quick lunch break...from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m....and the day ended with an educational program which meant I expended a great deal of energy entertaining people for two hours. It was a star walk - beautiful under the star lit sky - and wonderful to be able to get that type of work. But it is a performance nonetheless, and just as a really great dance performance can leave you exhilarated but exhausted so too can teaching the public. After such a long shift I was frustrated. I knew that there was probably NO way I was going to get to dance tonite. another day - another missed opportunity.
And so, bone weary and VERY aware that I needed to be up at 6 a.m. the next morning for another day of work (and another tour/performance), I headed home. The trip takes about 45 minutes and this evening I decided to listen to my music on shuffle. By complete accident, the 4 songs that appeared were all quite different and, as I slowly made my way home through the back roads with as little traffic as possible, I found myself dancing in my seat.
So, okay, maybe I WOULD be able to dance. the first song that played was a sweeping piece. I'm not sure of the name as I wasn't really able to look and when I went back after I got home I couldn't find it again. No matter - the important thing was that the music spoke to me and I found myself rolling shoulders, moving head, swaying with deliberation and intent as I drove. This song wanted something - candles maybe, or veil, or maybe even wings - something to flow and ebb with the piece. I let my brain dream about how the moves would be and here it seemed to stay centered mostly in my arms and torso. Next up was a more classical piece (to me anyway), an oriental delight that moved all the way through the stages of a good dance routine. entrance, a bit that would be suitable for veil, a drum solo, a nice taqsim, and an ending. again, i found myself dancing, and also thinking in my head how i would move too. not overthinking, really, but just letting my mind wander (i promise i was driving safely!) as the music directed. This time it was incredible just how much the music dictated a change in focus. Instead of torso and arms it was ALL HIPS. of course there were other movements but, boy, did those curvy hips of mine want to take over. by the third song i was thankful that piece ended because it was insistent and driving and really had me wanting to jump up and dance. it was also quite long - nearly 10 minutes - so a break was good. the third piece was a rather folkloric sounding piece that i've used with my tribal students and my brain instantly switched gears from oriental to strict fast ATS. the audience of my brain that sat back that analyzed this later had to admit - i was pretty amazed at just how fast i was able to switch gears. i'd always worried i couldn't do that. that my technique would be muddled, or i might do the wrong moves (trot out ATS stuff for more oriental, be too fluidly oriental for strong ATS etc.) but, really, i was able to adjust quite quickly. course this was all in my head in the car, but it seemed to work.
the fourth song - i'm almost embarrassed to admit it.
it was a song by ke$ha. and instantly my world shattered. not because i didn't want to dance to it, but suddenly the bellydance vibe was replaced with an entirely different mood and feeling. and so, ok, lesson learned pretty clearly. the music really DOES make a difference, and can speak volumes to you if you let it. sometimes i'm guilty of being too busy to really take the time to listen, or i just don't take risks and stick with old songs i know really well. i'd like to go back and revisit this someday (and really dance!) and just put my ipod on shuffle and let my body do whatever it'd like. that'd be nice, i think.