I´ve earned a good dose of impermeability to ignorance and prejudices.
Being a successful Oriental Dancer for about 14 years – most of them spent at the Mecca of this art form, Egypt which also happens to be the Mecca of hate towards Oriental Dancers – helped building a thick skin.The good thing about dealing, consistently, with stigmas and unfair judgements is the resistance, compassion and indifference you eventually gain. I learnt how to laugh at ignorance and answer with intelligence, and the sarcasm in which I became an expert, to stupidity.
My dance and I have been taken by what we´re not since forever. I can count with the fingers of one hand the times someone saw me or what I do under an educated, open and fair light.
I´m often taken as a dumb blond, a femme fatale who eats men for breakfast, the seductress who captures the sultan´s attention with her dangerous moves. Flash News: I couldn´t give less of a damn about the sultan and, if there´s dance going on in the “harem”, the sultan is doing it. Not me. I´m the one lounging on the cushions, eating grapes and enjoying the performance.
Curiously enough, it all started way before I became an Oriental Dancer. I was the pretty girl who hangs around with bad company – gangs; African and Gipsy kids – and hides in the last row of the classroom while managing to get A grades. The teachers would doubt every time the results of my exams came out.
-Is this your exam? Did you do this? – They´d ask, astonished, embarrassing me in front of the class.
This is why being seen for who I am became such a luxury, something I never take for granted. Cheers to the exceptions, men and women who happen to have a brain that operates above the heavy luggage and the nonsense associated with this dance.
Now here´s a funny thing: I´m not free of prejudices. I, too, can presume to know what I don´t know. For some reason only a good shrink would identity, I presumed the person who wrote the critic to my last performances in New Zealand was a man. Raewyn Whyte is her name and the person who called my attention to this fact was Angela Mott (thanks, Angela). There goes my hope of a male enlightened creature where Oriental Dance and dancers are concerned.
For now, my gratitude goes to the critic from the New Zealand Performing Arts who reviewed my last performances in Auckland. A woman, no less. A sister. A soul who could see my soul. A pair of eyes who could go past the stigma, the pre-concepts and the burdens Oriental Dance has been carrying around for so long – a woman who saw It.
My appreciation also goes to Candice Frankland who organized the event and all the students, dancers and collaborators who made the event possible.
Here´s a sneak peek at the critic on my performance (WOWZA!):
“Her dancing seems largely improvised yet is clearly well informed by a rich understanding of the structures, elements and values of traditional and conventional Egyptian dance. Her movements show utter control of her own body and all the refinements of shimmy, shiver, quiver, vibrate, and ripple, back bend, head whip, arm ripple… and so on that you could possibly imagine, all interlaced with the gestures and signifiers of metropolitan living which flicker through via micro-movements. As you watch you feel as if there’s a whole city there with her on stage, street sweepers, policemen directing traffic, a haughty camel, old ladies sleeping in the sun, street kids taunting one another with vulgar gestures, market sellers haggling over prices, suave businessmen seeking to charm, a socialite sipping a cocktail, beggars, backpackers, protesters… And you’d swear that the musicians to whose recordings she dances are right there on stage with her, so responsive is she to the nuances of their recorded tracks.
She looks like a rock star, and certainly owns the stage, moving confidently and freely in any direction, and taking everyone’s eyes with her, no matter where or how she moves. When she comes down off the stage to dance amongst the audience, her charisma is palpable and I am sure that some aspects of her approach to dance and choreography will infuse the locals who take her workshops following this evening of performances.”
Follow the link to read more: http://www.theatreview.org.nz/reviews/review.php?id=9365