Monday, March 10, 2003

Spirit of the Tribes

I just flew in from Florida and boy are my arms tired...

It was an overwhelming experience to say the least. I had never seen "tribal" bellydance outside the context of the SCA and I was intrigued by all the different interpretations and expressions of the dance and costume that I saw at the event. It was wonderful seeing so many people come together like this. This year, the venue was a rodeo fair grounds. I don't know what it was like last year, but this venue had its advantages and disadvantages. It was open-air, and considering that the weather was hot and clear, this was not such a bad thing. However, the floor was DIRT--not very encouraging for doing any kind of floor work at all, and shoes were a must.

I attended three of the workshops and I enjoyed them all, although I found them all very challenging and some things were just way beyond my level. Firstly, there was Neha Shah who taught Rajasthani dance. She taught a very charming choreagraphy of authentic moves to a traditional piece of music---that she sang to--and she was very good. Then, I took the Ultra Gypsy workshop with Jill Parker. This was probably the easiest one for me because I have studied with Zafira Dance Co, who were influenced by Ultra Gypsy and a lot of the moves were familiar. Even so, I found it difficult to last through to the end. It was quite a workout. Lastly, I took the workshop by Urban Tribal and they were AWESOME! They put a very modern hip-hop-techo spin on their moves and they seemed to just float across the stage. I was glad that I got the chance to take their class.

I did not take the workshop with my troupemates, Neefa and Safa: Indo-Eurasian Dance, because I already participated in their "test" run-through prior to the event, but I think that it was well-received. I thought it was very challenging, and the moves were original and unique to the conference--no one else is quite like us. After seeing a vast array of troupes and performers from all over, I can honestly say that we are quite "novel" in what we do. Jas's drum workshops also seemed to go well--he is an awesome musician.

Speaking of performances, ours was almost ruined by a case of mis-management at the event. We were scheduled to go on near the end of the big performance on Sat. night, and the show started to run behind schedule. There were just too many groups, taking a little bit too much time, and Maja, the organizer of the event had to start cutting numbers. This was a real shame because there was so much talent to be shown off. Luckily, we were able to perform our set in its entirety, after we sat through about 3 hours worth of other performances--most of which were a real treat to see. There was a huge troupe, with somewhere around 20 people on stage--they rocked. Blue Lotus Tribe, rocked. Awalim, rocked. The other troupes I mentioned already, rocked. However, the anticipation, combined with the threat of being cut, was almost too painful.

To further complicate things, I had brought some of my merchandise and attempted to vend alongside the Khafif merchandise that we had. And, I had brought mom with me to the event and this was her first exposure to anything like this. I had put a lot of pressure on myself to perform, while also juggling my DarkThreads business and looking after mom the whole time. It was a good experience for mom, but I didn't sell as much stuff as I hoped to. It certainly wasn't worth the schlepping. Next year, I focus on performing, and that's IT!

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