Yes, i am a professional Bellydancer in Cairo... But that's not all I do.....
This week Ellie of London (my flatmate) has been busy with a lot of singing gigs, so i have been following her around being her ‘assistant’. She is always so supportive of me in my work and often comes to the pharaoh to be my labisa (dresser) so it’s nice to be able to return the favour ...helping each other and a fun night out too!
At her work, I advise in the sound check (and continue to do this throughout the evening), liaise with the management and the staff and sound engineer. I translate where necessary too. Of course, I also keep her supplied with drinks through the night and I take seriously the ‘crowd whipper upper’ element of the job, applauding loudly, getting people on the dance floor and generally agreeing with everyone how wonderful she is (especially if management are within earshot!) I take song requests from the audience for her, also take photos and video for use for promotional stuff and generally be a PA so that she can do her job of singing and entertaining the audience without those worries.
At first it was weird for Ellie to think of me as her PA. She has always known me as a dancer in Cairo, and often helped me in various aspects of my work, so it felt weird for her to introduce me to anyone was her ‘assistant’.In UK a singer wouldn’t need anyone with her. In Egypt it would be unwise for a woman to go alone anywhere, and since artists (not only dancers) are often seen as having dubious morals then people often tend to think they can take advantage when they see a woman alone. In fact, not a single person at any event has ever questioned ‘why’ she might need me there, which again shows how normal it is here. At last night’s venue the staff just took to calling me ‘the beautiful assistant’. It’s a fun job for me when I am not dancing.
I also think it is useful as a performer to do the assistant job from time to time. As a solo artist it is easy to feel lonely. You are on stage alone thinking no one else can fully understand what you are doing or how it feels up there. From helping Ellie, I know that I am imaging how she feels, what she might need and therefore putting myself a hundred times a night in her shoes. I realise that my assistants have always done that too (the good ones anyway!!) thinking what i might need before i get up on stage and as soon as I come back to the changing room. I feel less like it’s a one woman show, and much more like it’s a team effort now. (and that’s without the dynamics of working with a live band!)
Performing is my passion, and 'artist' is the job title printed on my work visa.
I love teaching too, whether it’s workshops , or private classes.
Managing ‘Hotel Bellylorna’ is always entertaining playing ‘mummy’to all the dancers from all round the world that end up coming to stay with me in Cairo. Often it involves a fair amount of tour guiding and cultural advising!
Tonight a friend said to Ellie, “but, what I’d really like to do with my life is what Lorna does”. Ellie was rather surprised as this man did not strike her as belly dancer material as such. He laughed and said, “oh no, I wasn’t thinking about that... I mean her writing, the blog, you know. I’d like to be a writer too”. I felt honoured that someone saw me in that light before even the dance. That’s a first for me. Even i see myself as dancer first and everything else after. I guess i am a writer too, which was actually my dream job if anyone ever asked me when I was a little girl what i wanted to be when i grew up. I always answered a writer, or one of ‘Pans People’ (a dance troupe who performed on the TV show ‘Top of the Pops’ !!!
Here I am living more than one of my dreams. Dancer, Teacher, Manager/Tour Guide/'Mum', PA to a star and Writer!
My many jobs here in Cairo keep me busy, keep a roof over my head, keep me sane and connect me with some fabulous people. I love all of my jobs! Life is good.