Yesterday was a looong but varied day. I had to get up at 5.30 to get a train and tube to Kings cross then then catch my 8am train up to Hartlepool. I have never taught n Hartlepool before and to be perfectly honest wasn't sure where it even was til I looked on the map for it! Just 40 minutes drive from Newcastle is the answer, on the coast.
Vanessa, my workshop host for the day met me at the train station and took me to the venue which was a huge space, perfect for a saidi workshop! There wasn't mirrors but to be honest sometimes I find the atmosphere of a class is better without mirrors. People focus on the music and feeling there own bodies move more, rather than looking at what they look like. Mirrors always make for better technical dancers, but no mirrors often makes for more natural 'real' dancers, I find. Obviously a mix of the two is the preferred option!
A lot of the girls in the workshop had come through from Newcastle for the day and I t was lovely to see a few familiar faces and meet some new ones too. The level of dance was very high and I had to adapt some of the things I had thought to teach to stretch the students further. Thank god I don't actually teach to a strict lesson plan or choreography, otherwise that would have floored me!
We had fun and I am looking forward to seeing many of the girls again when I go back to teach in Newcastle the week before JoY festival in October this year.
The show at night was an intimate affair, on a boat to make it feel home from home for me. A lovely venue and a more than lovely audience. I had a pleasant surprise to find that a friend who is not involved in the dance world ( yes I do have a few of those!) and who lives in Newcastle has come through with her husband to see the show too. It is amazing when you meet someone from the 'past' and the years all just melt away isn't it?!
At the night, before I danced I gave a talk about life in Cairo, which could last the entire night in itself, but always seems to focus on politics. I still have to pinch myself when I find myself getting passionate about Egypt's politics, before living there I would have been the first to change the subject if people started Talking about governments. Now it is me initiating the conversation! Egypt has changed me. Living in a different country, especially one going through the changes Egypt has in the last 3 years, has made me question all. The things I took for granted. Little things; police and traffic wardens on the streets, religious beliefs being a private personal thing, people taking responsibility for their own actions, people having control over what happens in their own lives, the BBC news being unbiased by any political agenda. I don't think I even thought about or questioned these things before. I guess I was naive. When I gave my talk last night, and talked about mainly politics, I realized that I take for granted to a degree the glam and glitter of life as a bellydancer, and the excitement of life as an expat in Cairo. What I think about and focus on more than anything is Egypt's situation and future. Not even just as it affects me, but overall. If someone was to ask me if I had any interests or hobbies other than dance I would have to answer Egyptian politics. Now there is something I never would have imagined in my life! Funny how things turn out isn't it?
I went back to Newcastle with my friend after the show rather than staying of in Hartlepool, and. We talked til 2am. "Remember 'so and so' - they have 2 kids now, oh and 'so and so' got married, and remember when we went to Mambo club, and cavendish and century 2000 and then bought kebabs on the walk home in bare feet because our shoes where killing us from dancing all night?".
It was an evening of thinking about the past and how life was. I feel like a different person now, and yet, not. ( I still often end up eating a kebab at the end of a long night dancing!). My life could have gone in a multitude of different ways, and despite some of the more challenging events, not least living in Cairo through two, yes two, revolutions, I really am glad to be who I am doing what I do.
I guess that is all any of us can ask for. Regrets, I have a few. Everyone does. Usually things I didn't do rather than things I did. But everything that has happened has made me who I am. For better or worse.
How many cliches can I write in one paragraph? Seemingly a lot!
I need to stop all this thinking, I'm beginning to sound like an 80 year old! (aye... when I were a lass...!)
Anyway, thanks for reading this far and sorry that this has been a bit of a brain dump. I'm on the train heading to Edinburgh to have a week of seeing family and friends and more reminders of how life used to be and comparing it to how it is now. What I can never, ever imagine though is how it will be in the future. I can never even put into words how I would like it to be or what would be my dream life. I am too busy just being in the now. Which I believe is the 'best' place to be, but somehow doesn't stop me worrying about everything either!
Being in the now is how I teach and how I dance too.
It might not always be perfect, in fact it might never be 'perfect', but it is always honest. Over sensitive, over emotional, constantly aiming to connect with others, me.
Thankfully, some people seem to like that.
Who are you when you dance?