Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Little Background & Civilian Life

  The '70s were coming to an end, & the '80s seemed to hold so much promise. So much happened to me in those few years as a budding professional dancer, it really was a dream come true. I had been an only child born to teenagers, a narcissistic alcoholic, drug/gambling addicted father & a young mother trying to keep it all together. The two of them enjoyed the party life, & as a child I would ultimately be shoved into a bedroom at some friend's house & told to go to sleep. It was me, my transistor radio & my imagination. With very little money from my father's sputtering acting career, we struggled. While gazing at photos of my favorite pop stars, I dreamed of being an entertainer of some sort, though I didn't have any talents to speak of. I would examine maps for hours, dreaming of escaping the little world I lived in.

  So Belly Dance was my ticket out of a humdrum life - and it was my education.  Behind the costumes & eyelashes there was still an unsophisticated, frightened & shy girl those first few years. It wasn't long, however before I began to blossom. I became comfortable straddling two cultures, and I began venturing out into the world, visiting foreign countries for the first time. Belly Dance was opening up the world to a girl who could have easily become a recluse. Small talk still didn't come easy, but expressing myself through dance felt natural, & it gave me a confidence I had always longed for.

   I did have a life outside of dance, & in fact it was quite the distraction from taking dance seriously. Friends, boyfriends, concerts, parties - somehow I made time for it all. And everyone knew better than to call me before noon, a dancer needed her beauty rest. I couldn't believe my good fortune, as I was caught up in a whirlwind of activity. Sleep all day, dance & then party all night.

  So what was happening with my "art"? How was my dancing developing? Truth is I'm not really sure. I know I loved entertaining, & would often throw things in my show that would make people laugh. I learned from watching the other dancers, trying to dissect their technique & mannerisms. Translated to my own body, the dancing never looked the way I wanted - never was quite right. But it developed into my own style, & somehow I was able to stay very employable & in demand. As soloists, we all still did improvisation. Choreography was unheard of for a solo Belly Dancer. I had the good fortune to be very flexible & I more than supplemented the hip movements & undulations with back bends to the ground, splits & other jazzy tricks. This was in keeping with what I later came to realize was the Turkish style of Belly Dance. What did I know? Not much. Without videos, teachers, books or any info - we were all just winging it.

  One Tuesday night at Stox II I began my evening the usual way, going to the bar for a glass of water to take to the dressing room. Sitting at the bar were two very fresh faced young men, very different than the usual clientele at the club. One with curly brown hair caught my eye, & I caught his too. This guy was cute, & just my type. My usual mode of operation was to avoid men in clubs like the plague, but this time I was chomping at the bit to get out on the dance floor to get the attention of this good looking guy, who didn't know yet that I was one of the performers for the evening. Long story made short, he was most definitely interested after watching me dance & we ended up talking after the show. He had arrived that day from Montreal, Canada. He wrote a note to me on a napkin saying something like "if you're ever in Montreal look me up - my name's Maurice Mischook & my number is blah blah blah...". I remember at that moment looking at his name & thinking, what is this "if you're ever in town" business - I'm going to have your last name one day! So love at first sight across a crowded room does happen, & a few years & a few thousand miles later we did get married, and since this is a blog about my dance career & not my personal life, suffice it to say we are still married. Now back to Belly Dance and onto my next chapter...