After my last performance, I decided that talking about the realities of what happens in preparation for a performance and during might be a fun idea. Many times what people see in the video is sheer acting because there is a hot mess going on! Here are a few stories I thought might lift the veil so to speak of what you think looks like a collected performance, and what was REALLY going on in the making of the belly dance performance. Share it if you love it dancers!
This is my most recent video as of this blog post and oh my gosh the struggle was real with this costume! I had spent weeks trying to find an affordable yet “great for stage” bull-fighter costume and the date of the performance kept drawing closer. I had looked through countless dance performance sites and Halloween costumes and NADA. Finally, I found the costume I wore in my video via EBay and ordered it with 10 days of the show.
Costumes typically have some stretch in them, so I was not concerned. When the package arrived, I was so excited I immediately went to try it on, when to my horror, the pants wouldn’t go past my knees! At this point, I had 5 days until the show and the pants were too tiny. There was NO STRETCH, and the jacket sleeves were too short (but that is typical with me).
I knew that due to my demanding daytime job and teaching schedule that I had no choice but to enlarge this and use my sewing skills to find a solution. I used the corset the set came with to make extensions for the sleeves with the lace. I used the paisley pattern sections of the corset to extend the thighs, and I had a scrap piece of gold fabric I used to extend the waistband. Bear in mind, the pants have NO STRETCH so although I extended the waist, the thigh pieces were much too small still and I could barely walk in it and I needed the waistband otherwise my butt crack would show aaaah! With 3 days to go, I decided to not wear it until the day of the performance/photoshoot to avoid any potential rips.
The entire time I wore the darn pants I was sweating, anxious and just dying inside, hoping that the darn thing wouldn’t rip while I walked to the stage or performed. I even had my dance friends sending me their good thoughts and vibes as I had the worst feeling that the pants were going to rip during the level changes of my performance!! Needless to say, I wore spanks under the darn pants so that even if they were to rip, I would not be exposed.
Thankfully, no rips! I walked off the stage and thanked the universe. After the show ended and group pictures were done, I waddled off the stage in my tight pants, went to the changing room and bashed those pants to a cursing oblivion into my bag jaajaj!
This performance was a complete mish-mosh of what I had and the time available. It was close to a disaster actually jajaj. I had ordered the gymnastics ball a week before (see a trend) as I had been indecisive and the pressure finally forced me to order the prop as I needed SOMETHING to convey the moon I imagined in the story behind the choreography I had in my head.
Then there was the costume. It was completed down to the minute. It was about a month before the show and I could not find anything that fit the moon creature I was envisioning. I ended up using my luxe sequin fabric, extra blue crystals and getting to work (even though I work a million hours already). I needed more fabric and the store was out because of course, I had purchased the fabric in the prior season, ugh! I needed one more skirt panel, so I had to sew two different pieces of fabric together to not only extend the length of the panel of the luxe fabric I had but complete the second panel.
I was stressed with teaching, work, and getting back from my honeymoon. Needless to say, I wanted to tear my hair out as the show was a week away by the time I finished sewing, and I hadn’t created a lick of choreography.
That is where things became worse. I added a bit too much weight to the leg press the weekend before the show and sprained my back!
In a panic, I went to try one of those cortisone injections, but I had an adverse reaction as I never take medications! I was sick for 3 days and the day of the performance I was still quite sore and in pain. I attribute any semblance of a performance in this video to sheer adrenaline, but the pain was real, and I will not be performing injured again. I know better, but I caved and wanted to perform the darn piece just cause. I am sure many a belly dancer is scolding me for performing injured right now. You are right, I have learned.
This performance was so much fun! I love to improvise and simply unleashed. The funny part was what happened after. I was in Colorado, up in the mountains, at an elevation of 13000+ feet I think. I live in Florida…..we are below sea level here. So, there I was, performing for 10 minutes, happy as a clam, and once I finished bowing and began exiting to the changing area (which was in the waaaaaay end of the building) I suddenly felt as if I had just finished a 10-mile marathon! I had the strong urge to cough but had to hold it back while exiting.
I completely lost my breath control, yet had to smile because of course, I am still performing until I am out of sight, and oh my goodness I almost didn’t make it there! I was heaving like I never had before and in a state of shock because of it! Did I eat too much? Did I get too hyper somehow? No, that is what Colorado altitude is like! Woah, I have a whole new level of respect for Sadie and other mountain area dancers. They have lungs of steel living there jajaja!
The screen you see in the video I had ordered way ahead of time and had practiced putting together and timing my choreography with. I arrived in Miami and took my workshops as usual and found my friend Frank (who is the lighting and music tech every year) so that I could tell him about my little prop and vision for that night’s performance.
Needless to say, coming up when the lights would go on when I am behind a screen…not so easy. The lights going on was completely improvised and Frank nailed it pretty well. I was supposed to have more space behind the screen for what I had planned, but pretty much had to stay in place, otherwise, I would disappear behind the screen due to the gap in the back of the stage and the lights!
The costume I wore for the video had literally dried the day before as I was still sewing it last minute too. Oh, the last minute shenanigans with costumes and props! I am definitely seeing an obvious trend as I write this.
I had choreographed this piece to the T. Was super excited to perform it, and even ordered this costume specifically for this piece as I don’t own black costumes (it is my least favorite color). So there I am, ready, in character and mid-performance my song stops!
If you were there, I started being a little silly and then posed with the veil in front as Sound quickly tried to fix the situation. It felt like an eternity standing there in a pose, quite interesting in fact! I see the sound tech mouth to me “can we restart the song?”, and I mouth back “NOOOOO, half-way at least, somewhere half-way please”.
Then in a fraction of a second, some part in the middle of the song occurs and I heard this song so many times that I instantly react and thankfully, my choreography is in the exact count it should be in the music! Yay! This second round could have gone terribly wrong otherwise, but it turned out perfectly. You can see in the video I splice the two parts together.
If you read my book “The Bellydance Competition Handbook: Raq It At Your Next Competition” then you know that I love food. But it was this particular competition where I learned that landing in a foreign country, and trying foreign food a few hours before you compete is a big “no-no”. The food did not sit well, and I was running to and from the bathroom (the theater was the size of a 3 story Walmart- it was huge!) in between competition category performances. In US time it was the wee hours of the morning when I had to compete, and there I am, performing, then running to the restroom just in time to go to the toilet. Oh my goodness, you can only imagine. No fun, but I look back and laugh at this day now.
Well, this is an easy story! The darn rods that came with these wings were metal. I had practiced with them once and wasn’t in love with the weight, but didn’t think anything of it for the performance. I performed with them, and you can see within a minute or so that one of the rods flew out! Thank goodness it didn’t wack anyone (it is hard metal), but the loud and long-lasting noise it made while landing on the floor and rolling back who knows how many rows of seats was painful for me jajaj! I did not post the video for a year because of it! Then after a year, I regained my senses and posted the video. YouTube is my only record of my progress, and I post the good and the bad to keep me working harder. It doesn’t mean that posting less than perfect performances for me has gotten any easier though jaja.
What Did You Think?
Well, there you are, some embarrassing, stressful and funny moments that led up to the videos you see here. I have plenty more, but these really stand out. Make sure you subscribe to my YouTube channel if you enjoy my work and story and share your hilarious stories and pertaining video too!