Samia Pink“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.

A Dancer’s Beginning


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