Aaargh, I keep seeing posts from friends who are gearing up to go to Majma . It's a belly dance intensive weekend in Glastonbury, in early March each year. I had a great time last year, but this year I'm short of money. I haven't been paid yet for some work I did 9 months ago and haven't picked up much work since, so I'm a little nervous, financially. Oh, well, maybe next year ...
Last year I stayed at the Highlands Retreat;
it was recommended by a friend and I'd stayed there the year before, too. It is
lovely, a very calm, comfortable and nurturing place to be, with
I did some rehab exercises for my right knee, which I had damaged trying to chase a dog after my chickens, and was gentle with it in preparation for the Majma weekend,
so it was still a little dodgy but feeling pretty good. Unfortunately,
dragging my heavy bags up steep steps at the B&B, I must have
strained my left knee and within minutes it was painful, swollen and
tender around the inside of the knee joint. Arnica and a tisane
notwithstanding, I had a bad night. I had brought a knee support for my
right knee, so with the aid of that and some more arnica, I went off to
the first workshop, creative combination play with Samantha Emanuel.
Which was great, but increasingly I needed to rest the knee and went
out at break time to get some painkillers. (It turned out the knee problem is osteoarthritis, and a knee support is not really any use at all!) Thankfully, it is possible just
to sit in the workshops and take notes, which is what I did for the next
workshop on layering and her advanced choreo class on the Sunday
morning. So inspiring, and lots of good drills.
also great for the shows, featuring teachers on the first two nights and
then the Shimmy On showcase on the Sunday afternoon for students and
guest dancers. Of course, the teachers' performances are all wonderful
to watch, but Ava Fleming's piece to Roxanne (tango, Moulin Rouge
version) got a standing ovation. She left us all dry-mouthed, hearts
thumping, on the verge of tears, having been transported to another
place and then left wondering what had just happened. Such shimmies!
Such power, control and expression! Awesome!
One of the reasons
for going to Majma last year was to perform in the Shimmy On, an
ambition of friend and fellow dancer A, who also talked C into coming
and performing. A and I created the choreography the previous year, to music A
found and liked - Aal Eah by Samira Saiid. The pop/shaabi choreography
has been performed by various class members at various haflas since
then, but for this event, we really concentrated on polishing it. It was
a steeper learning curve for C, because she hadn't danced the piece yet
and some of the moves were new to her too. I found the rehearsal
process very interesting; it challenged me to be more mindful in my
dance and teaching. What arms do I use with this figure 8? Why? Does
the hand turn out at the end of this movement? How do the arms flow and
transition to the next movement? Do I do it the same way each time?
How do you progress from copying a leader's/teacher's moves to knowing
the choreography in muscle memory? How do you make the transition from concentrating on remembering what to do next, to letting your memory take over?
Well, we did it. We
looked and felt absolutely fabulous in our matching turquoise sparkly
galabeyas. I reckoned that my knees would be okay for a short, intense
burst, so I just went for it. It felt good, A and C danced brilliantly
and I felt so pleased and proud to be dancing with them. They shone! We received
such compliments afterwards, including from some of the teachers (!!),
it was overwhelming.
Since then, A and C have joined two other friends to form their own performance troupe for fun, and have produced some of their own choreographies, including a wonderful contemporary fusion piece using Isis wings. They took the life cycle of a butterfly as their theme, reminding me of my own belief in the transformational power of dance.