Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Bayou Belly 2017

Ok, here it goes. My sappy Bayou Belly post. (And you can blame it on Eva Igo- the 14 year old on World of Dance, who I just watched dance and has got me in tears!!)

I have had a couple of days to process this past weekend... Unfortunately, I couldn’t keep it brief enough to call it a post. So, without further ado, here is my #PostBayouBelly  BOOK.


There are those things you see, those you hear, and there are those you feel… and today I FEEL. I feel good and I feel re-energized and I have you, Bayou Belly, to thank for it.

To the amazing beings that put this event together... you have single handedly validated all of my efforts as a student and teacher of this art form. For that, I am eternally grateful. My heart was full when I arrived at your festivale, but your welcoming spirit and amazing hospitality made it ten times brighter. My body was tired and sick, but somehow you gave me energy and your spirit, healing. Such a special place. Such special beings. I bow down to you in gratitude and I cannot thank you enough.

There are no words to describe the feeling. In the years I have been doing this, I have never felt so appreciated, so welcome, and so much love at festivale, and most of all… like I belong. It was the difference between a “check in table” and a “welcome to the family” committee. It is just so special.

I decided 4 years ago that I would start my belly dance training all around the US. I have been bellydancing since 2005 and teaching since 2008, but it wasn’t until 2012 that I made the choice to put time, money, and effort into getting to know the people and cultures that gave me so much through its dance and to seek opportunities to learn from amazing MENA masters. My travels have been limited to the US, but in this short amount of time, I have been able to study with more than 22 of the most incredible Middle Eastern dance instructors and performers in the world who have taught me so much and made me fall in love.

Yet, it was in the small town of Lafayette, Louisiana…. as I walked off stage, having left EVERYTHING on it, after my solo performance this past Saturday that it hit me. I had been preparing for my workshop for weeks and so much of it was about being present, about mindfulness, about being in the moment. It was at that very moment, as I hopped over the cords on the ground connected to the stage lights that followed each dancer’s move on stage, that I felt it.. what I was doing… where I was... and that I had just performed my own choreography, on stage, in a solo performance, at a belly dance festivale, the night before I taught my workshop… something I would have never, ever imagined the first time I stepped foot into that belly dance studio those 12 years before for the open house. In that moment, I felt connected to each one of my teachers, filled with gratitude for all they have given me through their hard work and dedication. I felt blessed to being able to use my body and movement to speak, to express myself, to connect, and to heal... in ways I have never been able to before. I felt validated and inspired to continue to share the music, the dance, and the stories of the cultures and the people that have given me (and all of us) so much.

This, all thanks to the beautiful loving space you created for all of us to share our love, our hearts, and our art with everyone.

Some love those they know, some reserve love for only their close family members, others give love away freely to all they come in contact with.... No matter who you choose to give your love to…. I think we can all agree that receiving it is always a very special thing.

Thank you for giving me more than what I offered you. Thank you for welcoming little ole me into your huge loving family and for allowing me to do what I do. Thank you for being open to receiving what I had to give. Thank you for sharing your creativity and artistry and lighting up my entire being! It has shifted me in ways I cannot describe.

It’s amazing how life comes full circle and how the universe has a way of bringing souls together at the right moment. I hosted my first annual Shimmy Soul: A New Orleans Belly Dance Experience in December of last year. There, I met so many incredible dancers that stole my heart on stage, two in particular…. Mistress Ilea Bizarre and Cybele Noire. We kept in touch and it was a wonderful door that opened. It allowed me to collaborate and welcome Mistress Ilea in my studio home and introduce her to my students on a weekend retreat workshop. It eventually led me to Bayou Belly Festivale this year as a student, performer, and instructor.

This beautiful gathering in the Bayou has allowed me to also experience a deep sense of appreciation for local dancers and instructors, who, like me…. have been traveling, seeking learning opportunities, teaching, sacrificing, giving of themselves, dedicating long hours and all of their energy to bring belly dance to students and to our local communities here at home (in the US), making connections across cultures/countries/continents. It has inspired me to continue to give those same opportunities in our community and I cannot wait to do just that!! THbees, my heart is with you forever. You inspire me to continue doing what I love because you showed me that it matters to some, and that is enough for me.

And to my Anahata students, I bow down to you in gratitude. Namaste my beautiful goddesses. And remember- release all that no longer nourishes you and shake off all that is not soul. When your heart dies just make sure your left knee is bent and GET PISSED OFF!!! Peace out.

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