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I performed at a hafla for the first time ever at the very same hafla that I helped organise, also for the first time ever.  I certainly don’t do things by halves…

Performing for other bellydancers was, in my head, far scarier than performing for a more general audience.  They’ll know if you make a mistake for a start!  They know all the moves, so impressing them is harder! But, as I’ve found with a lot of things in life, the reality wasn’t much like the fantasy at all.  Perhaps because many of the crowd know how hard it can be to perform they are more understanding than a regular audience.  Perhaps because they love the dance already they are more receptive to its performance. It certainly helps that they know to make noise and show appreciation.

So, despite pulling my quad part way through my performance and messing up that bit (I was slowly sinking down whilst doing vertical 8’s with my hips), I feel really good about it.  It went well and many people have since given me a lot of positive feedback.  Even the singer & songwriter of the music I performed to, Karine Polwart, approves 🙂

Below I’ve included some photos of the performance and a video of it as well.

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So as I mentioned previously, last week I became a bit of a Lorna Gow fangirl… I like non tribal-fusion bellydance well enough, but I don’t tend to have as strong a reaction to it, as to (for example) watching Zafira or Rachel Brice.  But perched in the DJ booth in my role as DJ Shadow (helping our DJ, Peter, spot false endings and such like) I saw Lorna perform live for the first time. 

Peter and I had puzzled over the CD – the track listed as being over 9 minutes long.  Surely not?  I had to (quickly) double check with one of the other organisers before Lorna was due on that it was right.  It was. 

And then it started, and we waited for Lorna to appear. 

And we waited. 

A minute passed, the music was rising coming to what I thought was the end of the intro bit.

And then we waited some more. 

And then, when the tension was becoming unbearable, she appeared.  Garbed in a beautiful black and blue costume hand-made specifically for her she emerged, her black veil flowing behind as she made her entrance. She greeted the audience, making a tour of the crowd gathered around the dance space in front of the stage before beginning to dance.  She was the first performer of the night to utilise the stage, and the only performer to use both that and the dance area.  Her presence filled the room. 

The below video doesn’t capture even half of what it was like to have been there, but sadly it will have to do.

There’s lots of little details in this that I like, for example the way she discards her veil without interrupting the flow of the dance – seamless integration.

And that was how I became a Lorna Gow fangirl.

What an experience!

I’ve never helped organise or run a hafla before so this was really new and exciting (and nerve wracking!). But it all came together, the three of us (Caroline Rose, Elspeth and myself) worked beforehand and on the night, each doing our different bits and pieces which wove into something that, I think, worked rather well.

The performers were varied yet all lovely, talented with no “diva-ness” in sight. The audience were plentiful and noisy. And special mention needs to go to the lovely Elysse and Laurie of the Edinburgh Uni African and Arabic Dance Society, who worked on the door. They were complete stars!

Below are some gorgeous pictures of Lorna and us (the organisers) that Vi Anne took on the night. They really capture a lot of the atmosphere.

Lorna in her first outfit of the night.

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Yup, I am one. Lorna Gow aka “Lorna of Cairo” ROCKED tonight.  I’ve never met her before tonight and not seen her dance except on YouTube before now.  And, as some of you may know, I have a more tribal preference.

But this lady was fantastic.

Like for realz.  If you get the chance, go see her perform.

I’m gonna decompress now from the hafla.  I’ll write more about it later.  Night, night folks.

Yesterday I taught a taster workshop which included a short performance at the end for a local community women’s group. They are a really lovely bunch of ladies who made me laugh so much. Time just flew when I was with them, they were a delight to be with – funny, extremely complimentary towards me and willing to give the dance a try in spite of stiff joints. I stayed chatting with them afterwards, having a giggle before I realised the time and had to shoot off.

One of the nicest things about it was that it was repeat business. They had asked me to come and do the same thing around about the same time last year. For me, that is one of the best compliments as an instructor and performer; to have clients that want you to come back.

It’s got me thinking about how repeat business works, or doesn’t, in the bellydance performance and/or workshop ‘market’. Many of the events I’ve been asked to perform, or do workshops at are special events – significant wedding anniversaries, hen nights, and wedding receptions, for example. With these sorts of events you’re unlikely to have a direct repetition of the event. The best you can hope for, perhaps, is a guest at the event who decides they’d like something similar if/when they are in the same position. So it seems to me, then, that repeat business is an unusual occurrence, and it’s something that I am taking the time to treasure.

Have a good day, and I’ll hopefully see some of you at the hafla this Thursday! I’ll be performing to a piece of music that I love, but think is a little bit unconventional for a bellydance performance. Wish me luck!

Kimberly MacKoy (pictured below) is a tribal fusion belly dance teacher and performer based in London.

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So, this is the first time I’ve been involved in running a hafla.  It’s scary and exciting all at once.  I went along to the venue today with Caroline and had a look. The venue, ‘The Underground’ at Teviot Place, is a place that I’ve been to in the past for club nights and must admit I’d been having trouble wrapping my head around the thought of it being used for a hafla, but having gone today and had a look around (without a club night’s paraphernalia in the way) it all became clear.  This …is gonna be awesome.

Teviot, the oldest purpose-built student’s union in the world!

There’s a space off to the side of the stage that we can cordon off and use as a performers area, the stage is a good size and there’s enough floor space infront of the stage to accommodate large groups of dancers (which there will be at least one of).  There is seating on the same floor as the stage and there’s also a balcony that runs half way around the space (so you can feel like you’re at the ballet or opera!).

And… did I mention I’ll be performing at this?  This will be my first ever hafla performance (despite performing professionally for over a year now)!

And, the fabulous Elspeth ‘Swishandhips’ has set up paypal so you can buy your tickets in advance – I’ve got a button for it on the front page of my website as does Caroline.  Tickets cost £8 advance/£10 on the door, the hafla will run from 7-10pm on Thursday the 18th of March – that’s two weeks today!  I better sort my choreo out…

Oh – if you enjoy reading my blog you can click on the “Email subscription” button on the top left hand side of the page (it says “sign me up!”) and it will automatically email you any new blog posts that I make.  I’ve found it quite a handy tool for keeping up with the other blogs I like to read.

I taught five hours of workshops on Saturday as part of the Middle Eastern Spirituality and Peace festival. I held them in the McDonald Road Library, a venue I’d never used before, but it was pretty nice. The floor was carpeted which wouldn’t be ideal for everything, but for what we were doing it was fine – a Mums & Daughter’s bellydance taster lesson and two Zaar workshops that I entitled “Wellness and Energy Through Ancient Rhythm and Movements!”

I had a really good time! The last time I did a big workshop day I was completely exhausted afterwards, so I was a little concerned that I’d be feeling the same way after this, which wasn’t ideal as I’d planned to go out for a family dinner afterwards… but I wasn’t! As I left the library after packing up from the last workshop I was buzzing, full of energy and positivity. The time went so quickly – the Mums & Daughter’s one especially – it was like I blinked and half the lesson had gone by.

One of my intermediate students explained to me that our perception of time is linked to our serotonin levels, hence explaining that time really does seem to speed up when we’re having fun!

I’ve led a Zaar workshop before, and I used feedback both from the myself and the participants to help me develop the format. I’m much happier and more confident about how I run it now. One of the changes I made was to allow for more input from the participants, which opened up a wealth of knowledge and experience in both sessions on Saturday. It was fascinating for me to hear from the others there and (I hope) interesting and possibly enlightening for the other ‘students’ to hear from one another.

Another change I made for this workshop day was to leave out a journal for people to leave any written comments they felt moved to share. Verbal feedback is wonderful and something I really appreciate, but my memory isn’t perfect and over time much of what’s said to me fades. Having things written down is so helpful in combating that issue for me. Happily the feedback left written for me was all positive, which apart from making me feel validated in the changes I made also motivates me to organise more workshops. So… watch this space!

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March 2010
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