Sunday, September 02, 2012

Achieving greatness

I had 2 shows last night.

I had been dreading them, since my head (possibly for the first time ever) was not exactly in a happy place from which to dance. It's been a hard couple of weeks since I returned to Cairo.

I never choreograph my shows. I love the freedom and excitment that comes with improvising. Sometimes however, having a piece choreographed for just such occasions might be a good idea. I say that, but since this is the first time I have thought it in the 16 years I have been a professional dancer, maybe this is an exception rather than rule kind of time!

My mentor, Sara Farouk, said that if you choreograph, then you can always give a good performance, no matter what. If you improvise you run the risk of giving a less than perfect performance if your mood just isn't there- however you also have the freedom to attain an exceptional performance. I always prefer taking that risk to achieve greatness. Last night I have to admit I was worried i wouldn't live up to my usual standard, never mind achieve greatness!

How to get into the zone when your mind is full of lifes troubles?

-Look at the audience. Remember that to you this might be 'just another show' but to them it is a completely new experince and the power is in your hands to make sure they leave with a smile on their faces. How they view dance even will be influenced by how you perform. Rather than giving me 'performance pressure' to do well, this makes it almost like my 'duty' to show what it is about this dance form which has made me choose it as my lifes work.

-Reminding myself that no matter what things are going wrong in my life, dance has always been a constant- the one thing that can always make me happy, no matter what. If I am lucky enough to be on stage, in Cairo, with my own band (even if the keyboard hasn't shown up and there is a stand in who doesn't exactly know the music) , then I should honour my situation and give the dance, and the people who have come to see me, all I had.

So, for the audience, for myself, and for the sake of the art, last night I danced my all, and I danced well.

I had so much fun. The audiences were lovely and very appreciative. I felt slightly out of shape since I haven't been performing over ramadan as much as I normally would have, but I think it actually helped add a stillness into my dance which improved it! I gave up trying to get the tabal who refuses to (or isn't able to)  follow me to follow and instead concentrated on making the most out of what he was giving me.

I felt alive. I felt appreciated. I felt strong again.

Whether I 'achieved greatness' or not is not for me to say, but I felt great!

Someone recently asked me... with all the hardships and heartaches I have faced over the last 7 years in Cairo, Has it been worth it? If I had the choice, would I do it all again?

Yes. Yes I would.

No it has not been financially worth it, quite the opposite.... my life savings are gone. But what is that compared to how rich I feel being able to change not just my mood, but that of everyone's in a room, by getting up there and doing something that feels so good to do?

Thank God for dance.


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