Monday, October 22, 2012

More Dancers, More Musing

Here is another small batch of photos from the Madison Belly Dance Alliance performance this past weekend. I guess technically it is not a "show" but rather a hafla - a party - which in this case was twisted into a spoofla with comedic pieces being displayed. The haflas here have long since ceased being actual parties which were more about dancing for each other and have morphed into true performances. I am not saying that is a bad thing, just an acknowledgment of the straying from the term. In order for any performance art to flourish in a society that is drifting as conservative as ours is requires that money must flow. It doesn't have to be a lot of money, but no artist is making enough in their day job to fund a performance, and no grant money or patron system exists to pay for renting a space. As I said earlier, it all becomes a labor of love: Performers do what they do for free because they love it. They buy their own gear and costumes because they love it. They put up money to rent a space because they love to perform (and they cross their fingers). The audience comes and donates some money because they love what the performers are trying to do. In the "business" world things are somewhat easier. As long as their is a tangible good being consumed, even if it is junk, there is cash to be had. Not so for intangible trades like a performance. We as a society do not value the effort behind intangible experiences except in a few specific cases: Football, baseball, and basketball.

Perhaps dancers should have trading cards. Get little kids hooked on the glamour early. Each card would be coated in glitter or sequins (guaranteed to be found for years later!). Can't you just see it?

Ayperi Trading Card

It is a nice fantasy, and just not likely to become reality any time soon. We value activities in which one "wins" and it is as simple as that. "Us and Them" could be as valuable a learning style as "Us versus Them" (and we would have fewer wars).

Anyway, this is a post about belly dancers and a fun show. It just never ceases to amaze me where my mind goes when I start to write one of these posts. When I sat down to do this I was thinking that I would simply pop up a few more photos and dash off a bit of text. Voila! Then I remembered that to cross-post to Facebook, their "linter" tool fails to find the correct post if there is insufficient text before any photos. I pondered simply cutting and pasting the whole "Ipso lorem..." filler text, but then let stream of consciousness have its way with me. [Shut up Nataraj, just post some pretty pics!]


Amazing makeup! This dancer did a super fun piece about the Evil Queen talking to her mirror and discovering the existence of one Snow White. As we were talking about it afterwards, our friend commented that "perhaps she has always owned the role of the Evil Queen, since childhood." We laughed and pondered the possibility and parental realization that their daughter did not identify with Snow White, but was drawn instead to the Evil Queen. We imagined that it started with the gothtuming (Goth+Costuming). She nailed this dance for sure!


There is also a tradition of male belly dance that most people are not aware of. Misha has been dancing for years and is quite good. I have not seen any of his solo work recently and in this group piece there was not a lot of room to shine, though he and sometimes dance partner Ayperi did stand out. It is clear that each of them has spent time learning how to engage the audience and emote from stage.

As I close this post, ponder that our society promotes and subsidizes many things (using tax dollars to repair and plow streets, for cars) that lead to other costs (need for parking structures and parking fees) while ignoring or disenfranchising other things (mass transit). So too do we promote professional sports (Us versus Them) by publicly funding stadiums while we overlook and even ridicule non-competitive arts programs (Us and Them). What would the world be like if we chose differently?

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