“Ranee, that is not a maya, it is like this, now watch.” It was with frustration that the co-director of the troupe I had just started said these words. In the weeks before I was excited, elated and proud. I had only been dancing a few months and clearly did not have any knowledge (movement or history wise) of what I was doing, but I was a happy dancer! I was asked to be part of this student troupe and I was going to learn. I asked several questions. Are these the costumes they wear in the middle east? Can I dance to any music I want? Can I make up my own moves? As a student dancer this is what I thought: We wear harem pants or big skirts, we show our bellies and we dance to techno music. Being the oddity I am, I began to research. First I was going to take a workshop with another dance teacher. Yes!
It was a Saturday. I had signed up for two workshops. The first was a Raks Sharki Choreography. I feel in love with the music, the movement and the knowing that there was so much more to be learned. I decided this choreography was going to be my first performance solo! I purchased the music and practiced. I bought my first costume which consisted of pink harem pants, a coin top and matching coin scarf. My first solo was not at a restaurant, bookstore, stage, bar or assembly. It was for my teacher and the co-director of the troupe. I had asked them to watch me so they could see what I learned at this workshop. I performed for them and didn’t skip a step. The end result was clapping and praise. I was so happy that I had impressed my teachers. But things soon changed.
I continued going to dance class but the atmosphere was different. My name would be called in troupe rehearsal several times to showcase what I was doing wrong. “Bend you knees more Ranee.” “Your snake arms need to go like this.” “Ranee, that is not a maya, it is like this, now watch.” I started feeling bad about my dancing. No one else in class was getting corrected. Was I really that bad? I would go home and cry that something I had loved so much was now making me miserable. Mostly, I was sad because my teacher, who I thought the world of at the time, made me feel as though I should not dance. I thought to myself is she mad because I took a workshop from another teacher? I had to make a decision and move on. I quit the troupe and said goodbye but it was not the end of my dancing. There was much more to come.