I never thought I’d ever belly dance in front of a live audience. My camel walk always made my sister drop to the floor laughing. And my shimmy was all about my mud flaps under my upper arms jiggling wildly.
But there I was, with four other beginner belly dancing students and our instructor, wiggling and gyrating to “Spell on You” in front of an attentive audience.
Mostly attentive, anyway. We were in a local nursing home doing our live performance. As we swayed into the room during the introduction, I looked around at our geriatric audience. Most were in wheelchairs. One woman was quietly snoozing with her mouth open. Another was hooked up to a tank of oxygen. And another was strangely gurgling.
We were there to bring a little spark to their day. Our troupe of middle-aged gals had rooted through our closets and makeup drawers to create the most alluring appearances we could muster. “Anything exotic,” our instructor told us. So we brought out the glitz–the heavy eyeliner, flashy jewelry, metallic baubles, veils and swishing skirts, ballooning pants and voluminous hairpieces.
I designed my own costume—a swirling skirt of gold-splashed printed panels with ruffled hem and a matching vest. Both pieces were trimmed with gold and black ribbon. The most elegant feature of my outfit was the row of beads flopping around my abdomen and along the lower edge of my vest. No need for a scarf of coins around my waist.
Our instructor choreographed a very simple routine that seemed to go on forever. We all kept glancing at her to make sure we were in step with everyone else. Some of us smiled, some of us looked at the audience, some of us wore a grim, determined look. Mostly we had fun with our hip rolls and chest thrusts and eye wiggles.
The performance threw me into a burst of happy. Especially when I saw the guy giggling. He couldn’t take his eyes off us, and he was laughing and shaking and almost crying. Probably watching his first live belly dance performance ever.
It made the hours and hours I put into creating my costume and the hours and hours we put into practicing our routine worth it. The experience might have put a bigger spark in my day than it did in our spectators’.