Last Friday night was the summer performance of the Manipura Belly Dance Troupe under the direction of belly dance master Tava.
My daughter and I have been taking belly dance lessons and we have laughed and rolled our eyes each week for over a year now. We shimmy and roll. We ching our zills, we command our scarves with bellydancer attitude. We shake our sequined and coined hipscarved butts until the coins fly off in shear frenzy. We perform at Norwalk's finest, the Blue Sky Cafe, who just lost their liquor license. We wake up the next morning and wonder, why are we doing this? What have we done? I, in particular, wonder if I am a closeted stand up comedian and not a clergyperson. There are many good questions in life - what have I done is just one of them.
One movie that I have watched over and over again is Bronco Billy with Clint Eastwood and Sondra Locke. Eastwood (Bronco Billy) forms a traveling Wild West show and performs for all the 'lil pawdners out there. By necessity, or abandonment, Sondra Locke (Miss Lily) joins the show. She hates it. Not her kind of people! She mocks them and puts them down until you want to slap her upside the face. You see she thinks that they are all just fake cowboys. She's an heiress and the rest are ex cons or alcoholics. Of course in the end she falls in love with Billy and begins to understand that they are not so different after all.
At one point in the film, Billy who is in love with Miss Lily but exasperated beyond H E double toothpick, tries to get her to understand that this gang of cowboys and cowhands are just livin' out their lives doin' what makes them happy. Spreadin' some joy out there to all the 'lil pawdners who need some fantasy and cheerin' up. They know they're not REAL cowboys, for cryin' out loud Billy is a shoe salesman who happened to murder his wife! But in the end they stick together.
So why do a pre-school teacher, a hairstylist and salon owner, an elementary school teacher, a PR rep, a Marketing rep, a massage therapist, an ESL teacher, a musician, a hotel manager, an insurance broker, and a clergywoman get out there and shake our booty? Because we love it. H E double toothpick, we're not REAL bellydancers but we're not fake ones either. We dance because it's a beautiful form of dance and Tava makes us feel good about ourselves. We look at Tava who is no bigger than a minute, try and mimic her and think we are dancing just as exotically as she is. We are fantasy seekers. We dance because it's fun, and we like to look pretty.
We continue to dance throughout the hot summer months because, beyond bellydancing, we have formed a friendship around a common theme. And hey, did I say we like sparkle, glitter, sequins and showing our navels. (some of them do - not me for heaven's sake, I do have boundaries for cryin' out LOUD - I may have to get another pulpit sometime).
Tava, my fellow bellydancers, I will miss you this next year while I'm in Israel. But, I won't fall behind thanks to Sagit, my surrogate belly dance teacher in Jerusalem. Yes, stay tuned, belly dancing in the Middle East I'm sure will be good for another couple of blogs.
Everybody should try a little belly dance in their lives. Exotic Bellydance, Standup Comedy, or Clergy Self Care? Yes.
Praise God with tambourines and dance; Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!