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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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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!

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