It had been a couple of weeks since the audition and a few of us had a scheduled performance at one of the downtown theaters. I think there were about eight of us scheduled to dance solo’s that night. The only difference between me and the other dancer’s performing was that although we all came from the same studio, most of them had not been at the audition. I wonder if they had heard about the audition incident? I certainly was not going to mention it. Hell, for now, I was ready to dance! I had choreographed a number with splits and floor work included.
There was a rumor that there was going to be a large crowd for the event and that we were suppose to be a paid. Along with the dancer’s, there would also be performances by musician’s as well. I had no idea what I would be paid. There were several of us dancing. Admission to the show was seven dollars. I was wondering how much all of us could make? There was a rental fee, the musicians and DJ had to be paid as well. There were also several high quality flyers that were passed out. However, I was not too worried about it since I was not in charge. The thought that I could possibly take twenty dollars home for my first paid gig was thrilling.
I came to the event in a partial hand-made costume that M had made for me. The bra and belt had been purchase previously at a dance workshop. M had sewed me a new skirt from material I had purchased at Hobby Lobby. It had sparkly silver stars spun over shiny black over-lay. She also made me a pair of black arm bands from tightly woven curtain spun material. Underneath, I had a pair of sheer black harem pants. In the early days of my dancing I wore bindi’s. Why? I have no idea except that I saw other dancer’s wearing them and idiotically thought it was part of middle eastern culture. I wasn’t aware of the Bollywood slash Arabic fusion style that had become popular. I just thought the bindi’s covered my forehead nicely and made me feel pretty.
I came to the venue in my costume. As a dancer of less than six months, no one had ever told me how unprofessional it was to come to a show, of any kind, already dressed. I learned much later that the best thing to do is get dressed in a room at the venue or if you absolutely have to come dressed, you should wear a cover-up also. At the time it didn’t care. I was gallivanting around in my costume, downtown, for everyone to see. Believe me, I wanted to be seen. As I arrived at the theater I walked through the front doors with my boyfriend. “Can I see your ID miss?” asked the bouncer. “I’m a performer here.” I said. “Well, I still need your ID.” he responded. I had to walk back to my car, in full costume, to get my ID that I had left in the glove compartment. I returned with my ID “Here it is.” I told him. “Wow, you really look young for your age.” he said. “Thanks!” I replied with a huge grin on my face.
I was at the venue one hour before show time. I walked around to see if I could find any of the other performer’s. I found my teacher who greeted me with a big hug and sent me to the building next door where the other dancers were. I walked upstairs to find them. There they were stretching, shimming and practicing their movements for the stage. Now, I’m a performer, but I am also an introvert. I didn’t want to practice backstage or stretch. So, I do what I always do; I practiced in my head. The song was “Ice Queen” performed by Dinletir from the first Belly dance SuperStars CD. In my mind I saw myself performing flawlessly. I was ready.
The crowd gathered up fairly quickly and the show was about to start. I had a few friends and family members in attendance. I could see some of their faces from the side of the stage. While I was waiting for my turn to perform, I watched the other dancer’s. I also noticed the stage floor. There were several extension cords, amps and other items that could easily trip me or another performer. “I better watch out.” I thought to myself.
My turn came abruptly as soon as the performer before me left the stage. My music was on, loud and full of bass. It was at this part of my dance journey that I was unaware of entrances and exits. I always used to start my dancing on the first measure of music. I had to rush out quickly to match my movements with the music. I felt good. The crowd loved me! When I slide into my splits there was a loud applause that echoed through the building. I finished dancing to my song, exited the stage and felt tremendously happy with my performance.
I composed myself backstage and then went to join my friends and family for the rest of the show. The adrenaline wore of and I yelled, “Son of a bitch, I pulled my damn hamstring!” My best friend was there and asked “Are you ok?” “The splits. I hurt myself when I did the splits.” I whined. When everyone was backstage practicing and stretching, I should have been stretching too, but no I was practicing my performance in my head. I slumped over the rail I was next to and watched the rest of the show. I was interested in watching my teacher, the final dancer, dance. The crowd loved her and there was a loud thunderous clap when she spun in her “Turkish Drop.” A Turkish Drop is a few full turning spins with a dramatic drop to the floor, sliding down on your knees and landing on your back. It was amazing.
I left the show a bit early, limping to my car. The next day I stayed home, unable to walk comfortably, and watched Wishmaster 3. As I rested on the futon, one thing keep going through my mind, ” I’m going to learn how to do a Turkish Drop.”
Oh, and I never got paid.