Bellydance after Retirement: the beginnings of a plan!

I have been pondering my upcoming retirement and what I want it to look like. Who do I want to be? What do I want to do?

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Ironically, it was my illness that gave me the opportunity to examine these questions. It was a devastating time for me.

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For a while, I couldn’t even go to work, and I had to give up every single thing in my life in order to concentrate on simply getting up in the morning and getting through the day.

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Dance felt like a raggedly amputated limb, and it hurt so much to lose it that I actually packed up my gear and put it away where I didn’t have to see the dust raining down on it like tears.

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Gradually, though, creativity began to clamor for an outlet and I began to quilt and knit and write and explore avenues of creative expression that I hadn’t had time for when I was dancing.

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Fortunately, part of my wellness journey has been re-learning to pay attention and listen to my body and to my heart. And, happily, what my heart is telling me is that the dance is still there, just not in the same way as before.

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I’ve discovered that I love quilting. I love knitting. I love baking and hiking and gardening, and I no longer want to pursue dance to the exclusion of all else. In future, dance will be only one of many ways to express myself instead of the only way.

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On another happy note, I have been thinking lately that I would like to teach when we get to Salmon Arm. Did you see that coming? I didn’t.

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Ideally, I’d like to focus on teaching women my own age. Middle-aged women who have “been there and done that” and have women’s bodies; luscious or lean with bellies full of life experience and stories to share simply because they have lived half their lives or more already.

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Maybe I can eventually direct a little troupe of 4 or 5 women, dancing with the assaya, baskets or zills… dancing joyful, dancing our stories in the old way.  A small student dance troupe like the Allspice dancers of Arabesque Academy: “dancers who celebrate the female spirit at its most glorious time in life… a group of Bellydancers who have lived a bit and revel in their wisdom, uninhibited sensuality and zest for life.”

Group01I could also hire out to work with other troupes… teach a choreography or perhaps come into the studio and rehearse them in preparation for performance. I could do that on a charge-by-the-hour, workshop style basis.

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I am very good at troupe direction, if you don’t mind my saying so.  My dance troupe Saba and all the accolades we received over the years is proof of that. I’m tough but fair (and a helluva lot of fun). Just ask these gals, lol!Saba 1 by M.Collins

As far as teaching goes, my preference is to work with intermediate and advanced students. Because I don’t want to tie up my time year-round, I envision teaching occasional themed master-classes and workshops instead of on-going classes.  I’d like to revive the Special Topics classes that I had started to develop before I was interrupted by illness.

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It can be a tricky thing to carve out a niche in a new dance community, but I’m not a political person, and I’m generally easy-going. I’d really like to be a positive-minded contributing member of Salmon Arm’s dance community, if they want me.

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I’ve also come to understand that while I will always be a student, I have also stepped out onto that first rung as a master instructor. Yes, I dare to say that out loud. My peers and my community have designated me as such, and it is time for me to acknowledge it. I am still an affiliate instructor with Arabesque International, and that means something.

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As for my personal performance practice, I have come to understand that my dancing heart lies right in the roots – the very guts – of Egyptian dance. In the baladi.  My mentor, Yasmina Ramzy, saw it in me when she called me “little mama baladi” and urged me to pursue that direction several years ago.

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I look forward to finding myself back in the bubble of joy that always overtakes me when I am truly dancing without care.

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This is Baladi. This is the rich flavor that sets my artistic taste buds on fire.

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This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.

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The Simple Woman’s Daybook – August “Office” Edition

simple-woman-daybook-smallFOR TODAY

Outside my window…it is overcast but I can see some blue between the clouds.

I am thinking...about how much I would love to be lowering my stress levels at a dance workshop right now, hip-dropping myself into a sweaty ball, or howling with laughter over a silly joke with a girlfriend. Yesterday, alone in the office, I dialed up a Middle Eastern music station and worked to Amr Diab, Hafiz and Oum Kolthum. I have never done that in the office before. Since I am alone in the office again today, I am thinking that I might just do it again.

I am thankful…that my recovery from menopausal depression is withstanding the stress of these last several days weeks and that I have learned to recognize, acknowledge and ACT on my feelings of tiredness and stress before they overwhelm me…to be able to say “this is about me” and say what I need.

On another note, I am also thankful to feel inspired (and, yes, even impatient!) to rejoin the dance world (are you surprised?)

In the kitchen…since I am writing this on my lunch break where I work at Yukon College, my kitchen of the moment happens to be the top of my desk, which has a half-eaten sandwich hiding somewhere amongst a pile of paperwork on it at the moment.

I am wearing…leggings, sandals and a tunic top. Not the most appropriate office attire, but the campus is quiet so it’s okay.

I am creating…I have just spent the entire morning formatting a draft MOU between our Bachelor of Social Work program and the University of Regina. At home, I’ve started a new project: making a quilt out of hand sewn hexagons. I can’t have only the ONE project on the go after all…two is definitely twice the fun.

I am going…to pick up the truck after work. It is in the shop getting camper bars put on. Yay camping! Then to take Samson for a walk. Then (maybe) to a gals night out going away party. I say “maybe” because I am unbelievably tired emotionally – and it feels like a lot of work to go anywhere but home.

I am wondering…what possessed me to write this during my lunch break. You don’t really get a lunch break when you stay at your desk. I’ve already been interrupted a half-dozen times to do work, lol!

I am reading…Royal Weddings – a Harlequin Romance book of three short stories about girls who meet princes-in-disguise. This is sheer unadulterated, brainless, entertaining summer reading and I am not going to apologize for it!

I am hoping…that the scale doesn’t reflect the crap I’ve eaten this week. Stress eating. Yuck for gut.

I am looking forward to…getting some exercise. I feel antsy and wound up. And getting home to sew.

I am learning…to make neat little hand sewn seams that the Queen herself would be proud of.

Around the house…since I am at the office, I’ll say “around the office”. We are in the middle of moving, so everything is in boxes and discombobulated (don’t you love that word?)

I am pondering…ugh. Do I have to?

A favorite quote for today…“don’t ask me, I just work here”

One of my favorite things…well okay…I will admit it…I love shopping. I do. God help me and my bank account.

A few plans for the rest of the week…no plans. I’m just gliding along day by day, enjoying the summer.

 

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Dance

Tuesday my son sent me a text message and asked if I would be performing anywhere this year. I texted back, “probably not.” And then, “maybe”.

Depression took this away from me. Can I take it back?

Yesterday I went to the physiotherapist for back, hip & knee issues, only to unpleasantly realize that this is what happens to a body that stops dancing. Her prescription? Start dancing again.

Today while doing homework over lunch, I had a panic thought. It hit me in the middle of my chest: I have stopped dancing! A tear ran down my cheek as I realized what I had done.

My heart, oh my heart!