Tomorrow is the jiu jitsu national seminar and annual ball for the style that I study. Some time ago I offered to do a very short belly dance demonstration at the ball, obviously while possessed by some sort of Dance Demon. Luckily I managed to finagle a friend who also does jiu jitsu and is also a belly dancer to get up and dance with me. Man, was I happy I wasn’t going to have to do it alone! (Weirdly, she’s also American, which probably causes some confusion amongst our friends. They must think that all American women are mad jiu jitsu belly dance fanciers.)
Over the course of the next several weeks we worked out our songs and routines and such. I’m not a brilliant choreographer, mainly because if I concentrate too hard on remembering what I’ve choreographed, I get this Thinking Expression on my face while I’m doing it and I’m constantly trying to either speed up or slow down to keep with the music, so I look a little like a belly dancing robot.
At first we rehearsed in my friend’s front room (living room, dear American readers), which didn’t go as brilliantly as one might have hoped, because I kept whacking into the overhead light every time I raised my hands over my head. I tried doing a sort of u-shaped dance around that spot on the floor, but it didn’t really help.
Finally last week we decided to have dress rehearsal up at the University gym because there’s a dance studio with mirrors in there, and no hanging overhead lights. Sort-of by accident, we ended up having rehearsal at the same time as the jiu jitsu class would be happening in one of the other rooms. So there we were, greeting all our friends in the locker room as usual, but instead of changing into our nice shiny white gis (aside–I tried to look for a picture of a gi so you’d know what I’m talking about, and I found some camoflauge ones. Then I decided to look up pink gis, just to see if they exist. Yes, yes they do. Or there’s…this…) Where was I? Oh yes, instead of changing into our shiny white gis, we were strapping, wriggling and twisting ourselves into our respective belly dance costumes. (Looks like a dress. Feels like a tank.) Then we put our coats on over the top so the boys wouldn’t make fun of us in the corridor, and hied it down to the dance studio.
Because we are conscientious dancers we stretched and warmed up before jumping into our routines. While we were doing this, two of the boys from class (I call them boys because they are little baby undergraduates) came bursting in, saying something about how there were extra mats in the studio closet. They stopped in the doorway. Regarded us suspiciously. Went over and found the extra mats they needed, which were in fact in the closet. On their way out, one of them turned around and said, “I don’t know what’s going on in here but I like it!”
After that rehearsal went pretty smoothly, especially the bit where I pretty much abandoned all the choreography I’d planned and started varying the pace and doing some more interesting footwork and things. (What particularly comes to mind is Lorna’s teaching us a move I will call the ‘kick-pose’ at a workshop last summer…I knew there were some more interesting moves stored somewhere in my brain!) I just have to remember that I can only do that during my song, and not during the song that my friend and I are dancing together. Because that just wouldn’t be fair!
I’m slightly trepidatious about dancing tomorrow–there are going to be 124 people there, I am informed by a reliable source. However, I take refuge in the fact that by that point in the day everyone is going to be so exhausted from training and so drunk after dinner that no matter what we do will go down as a smashing success. I say that in jest (well, not the drinking part)–I’m actually very much looking forward to it, and once again–SO GLAD I don’t have to do it alone!