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Archive for July 3rd, 2004

A Parade & a Sock

Saturday, July 3rd, 2004

Today I danced with the Habibi Dancers in the Independence Day parade (OK, so tomorrow is independence day, but today is a Saturday). I have never done a parade with the group before, and it was actually a great deal of fun. Mom was there as a spectator, with her friend Fai (who took pictures as she always does). It was fun to dance for them.

Fortunately, the possible rain did not materialize. It was sunny and a bit too warm, if the truth be known, but for me that is better than rain and cold. I spent the rest of the day drinking water to get re-hydrated, but I’m really glad I went.

There is something wonderful about hanging out with this group of women. We all practice this danceform which emphasizes the fact that we are women. In parts of the world, this type of dance was developed as a way for women to strengthen themselves for childbirth… that is, when there were no drugs or some of the other medical advantages we have these days. Strong muscles made for a better birth experience. In some cultures, your women friends would come to you when you were in labor, and dance with a hypnotic rhythm, to try and help you with your experience.

I had a hard time learning this danceform, really. I had to make friends with my hips, before I could move them with any precision. I had to make friends with each part of my body before I could isolate that bit and do the moves well.

Maybe you have seen mideastern dancers (sometimes called belly dancers, although that is probably an intentional mispronounciation of “beladi” which is a common mideastern dance rhythm) dancing with a cane or basket on their head? Or sword, or candelabra, for that matter? One reason these props are used, is to prove the skill of the dancer. Let’s face it, it is hard to balance a book on one’s head, or anything else. Add to that, a precision dance move, or two, or several dozen, going on underneath that balanced item, and it proves that her head is steady as a table.

Belly dance is not just about wiggling hips. Technically it is about controlled movement of one small part of the body at a time. You move only your shoulder, for example, and you hold every other part of you very still. The eye of the viewer will then focus on that one isolated move. This is one goal of a good dancer. We only move the parts we want you to notice. We do not move all of ourselves at once. But more than that, it is a celebration of one’s womanhood. We dress up in all sorts of glitter and color, we typically decorate ourselves to emphasize our curves, and we move as one can best do if one has a female body. In doing this, we enjoy celebrating our womanhood.

What I have found is that I have really made friends with myself, my physical body, through studying/practicing this dance. Before I studied this type of dance, I did some ballet, some modern dance, some jazz, some tap, some theatrical dance. But I never really made friends with my whole physical self. When I came to this dance, I felt that I was mostly a good brain, and some feet moving me from place to place. Now I have a comfort level with my whole body that is almost a miracle. In the Habibi Dancers we have dancers of all sizes and many ages, from teenagers to retirees. It is about learning to be comfortable in one’s skin, no matter what size or age one might be.

The first picture here is Kay/Phaedra, Stuart, and Arlyn/Mahtaab. Stuart is Arlyn’s hubby and he’s always around when we need help with about anything. He doesn’t complain about the work, he just does it. You’ve heard me talk about Kay/Phaedra’s costuming before. She’s an amazing seamstress and creative costumer. Arlyn is also a hard worker, does lots of volunteer work for the troupe, and is another excellent seamstress. Arlyn taught me a lot of the dances I first learned when I was new. She is willing to spend time helping folks.

The second picture is just a crowd shot, where we were preparing for the parade. The additional Habibi on the far right, is Marie who doesn’t seem to have a dance name yet. Marie I have mentioned and actually pictured here before. She used to be my supervisor on the cutting counter at JoAnn Fabrics. Her kids come to my knitting/computer programs at Foster Center. She even actually bought the house exactly next door to the one I used to own, one block from Foster Center. Unfortunately she bought it after I had already moved out! But we just have a lot connecting us.

My New Sock Design Comes to Life
Oh, and just a teaser here. I just turned in another sock pattern for publication in a few months. I got the sample sock back from my knitter, Wendy, today. I am just thrilled with this design! Wendy did a great job and it looks a million bucks. Here’s a tiny peek at a small part of the sock. I can’t show any more than this… I can’t scoop the publication, or I won’t be invited back. It is just a tiny peek to get you interested!

Wendy met me at Yarn for Ewe to deliver the finished sock. That was fun! Ruth was there, Marlene was there, a few other familiar customer faces were there. I got a skein of self-striping yarn to use, planning to knit a pair for myself. Then Wendy and I went to the coffee shop a few doors down from the shop, and we talked. I don’t know how long we chatted, but it seems it was at least an hour. What a fun and relaxing time I had.

Wendy doesn’t talk as much as I do… but I did ask her a few things and she did get a few words in edgewise. I did, in fact, listen to what she said. She will be teaching her Mitered Bag class again at Yarn for Ewe one of these days. She does bag classes a lot (usually felted/fulled, but the design changes from time to time), and they are very popular. I would love to take her classes, but it seems they always are on nights where I’m teaching myself, somewhere else. Boo Hoo!

Well, this grrl is very tired from dancing in a parade. I’m off to relax a little.