Seeking value in life, family and creative endeavour!

To smallish boy :
Why did you feel the need to give Mr M a bear hug in English and stroke is head?
Smallish boy replies:
He looked like he needed a hug and some love

On top of working fulltime and more , being partner , daughter , professional woman and more I am now parent governor. This is in some hope that the school will place some value on me as parent and hope that I can get smallish boy through the next year and half of school and beyond.
Smallish boy receives value in being warm, funny and being quirky and off the wall. I suspect his value was in the attention he received from the class audience rather than Mr M’s response to his kind offer of a hug!

Seeking value is what I have being thinking about. Recently undertaking a coaching and mentoring course my tutor proposed that I was seeking value and affirmation for quality and quantity of my work in all the wrong places. She challenged me to thinking that rather than repeating same patterns of activity to continue to be let down by lack of value I would be best off seeking value in a different activity such as coaching or mentoring where positive results would be visible and experienced. I am working on this but it has made me less inclined to keep seeking value where it cannot be found.

This has really made me think. Let me be clear I do not want validation. I would consider myself as not overly needy and quite confident in myself and own abilities. However finding value in activities and relationships I invest in is important. I feel valued and loved as a mother, partner and daughter. Although the caring nature of me at the moment is stretched in every direction at the moment caring for elderly Mum as well as boys , step daughter and my lovely man. Seeing our young people including smallish and large boy grow into lovely young people places value on my investment. Caring for my elderly Mum on top of the day jobs is proving tricky. But my Mum has made me feel valued as a human being all of my life. Returning care to her when needed has huge value in seeing her safe and secure.

My relationship with my lovely man is full of kindness and activity that invests in home and family life. He is not a man of words but his actions place value on our relationship beyond words. This weekend he has cleared the last of his “man cave” garage ready for the builders to convert into a home for my Mum. I am crying writing this as this has more value than any flash “ I love yous” or big diamond rings.

So in terms of my creative world is the struggle I am having with dance that I am seeking value in all the wrong places?
As a painter , fine artist I found, and still do sometimes , value in the creative activity of making stuff. I am enjoying making this blog. There has for me always been value in attempting to creatively express feelings and ideas. I am currently also keeping a journal and encouraging the creative me to find value in the activity of just doing doodles scribbles writing words thoughts and stuff.

Dance has taken me on an amazing journey throughout the whole of my life it has added and given value to making me into the whole person I have become.
The value I have from dance is being able to connect physically with my body and to express myself creatively throughout dance. I also think that with belly dance in particular it has given me an outlet to share my emotional experience with an audience and to be able to create “dance pictures” with choreographies and solo improvised performance.
As a dance teacher and organiser of events I gained value in making dance classes and events happen to share the joy passion and knowledge and skills of dance. I think receiving value as a leader who could see the value of sharing skills knowledge and ideas with others to improve others experience of dancing is something I am grieving the loss of.

So in writing this I have realised that I the value I am placing on my dance at the moment is like one of my big doodles I create in my journal and notebooks!
I think my dancing is colouring in with nice colours which has value in being fun and very relaxing. But as I want to seek value on “being creative” I am getting frustrated as I want to use the knowledge and experience I have to colour over the lines a little bit or offer a different colour.

So I have been looking and not finding any big dance canvases in easy reach or on offer for me to put my dance colours. There really is little point in seeking activity to give me value when it is not on offer is there? So If happy dance colouring in is my current dance offer then I must remind me of the value in dance colouring in as a joyful activity in itself. I may have to work at this like practising meditation perhaps it will reap benefits the more I do and the more I adjust to juts finding joyful value in the moment of dance .
As I find value in increasing my knowledge and connection of my mental ability to affect my physical dancing I am going to drum more and focus on learning more about rhythms patterns and develop my drumming skills.
For my dance doodling I shall seek value in dancing with my lovely man drumming, and some other shenanigans with like-minded friends. I also must give thought to creative value in other projects. Journalling is one activity I can explore and build creative value into.

So it is seeking value in activity and relationships that gives me positivity and creates feel good me.
I have been out of sorts as I really have been in many aspects of my life seeking value in the wrong places. Writing this makes me realise that my life although challenging is full of value when I look in the right places.

Smallish boy this weekend has confidently dismantled a computer. He now has beautiful shiny mother board and other bits on his floor. What value he seeks in this is what? Curiosity? Beauty in what he has found? Finding out stuff he needs to know?

Smallish boy at dinner table :
Mum can I have a stuffed duck for my birthday?
I say:
Lovely man where did we see stuffed animals recently?
Lovely man replies:
I really do not want to discuss this right now
Step daughter:
Snorts with laughter
Grandma keeps quiet!
There is so much value in loving family life I do not need to be seeking elsewhere
.

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Epiphany moments cannot always be found in chiffon and coin belts!

I love debate and discussion. I suppose I am thinker. So more than just turning up every week engaging in the practicalities of teaching dance I also like to ponder its different components.

This last week brought me into a wonderful discussion generated by Anne White’s article on  

What draws British women to learn Arabic belly dance?  The link is 😦http://libertymagblog.wordpress.com/2014/01/12/contemporary-art-what-draws-british-women-to-learn-arabic-belly-dance/)

 Please go read as  Anne’s involvement in the UK dance scene is much longer and greater  than mine. A key dance mover and shaker both as a dancer ,teacher and events’ organiser  in London I can always rely on her for interesting and insightful views on our own dance scene. What  I have recently confirmed though is that the  London inner city dance scene Anne is part of and the dance scene of the  rural community I live, teach and perform in are different experiences. At some point we shall endeavour to capture our late night discussions,  long phone calls with cups of tea and  wild creative  women Facebook posts in messages into some coherent thought!  

  As I move into my tenth year of teaching it is time for me to reflect on where I have come from to make some decisions in 2014 of where I am going in my next decade.  As a belly dance teacher  culturally I have always felt a bit of fraud. I have never been quite sure how a girl from Devon who ended up in Shropshire via London with a background of ballet and contemporary dance ended up teaching a Middle Eastern dance form?  Anne asked  a similar  question to this recently on social media and I was fascinated by the answers. For some it was a slow drift into a dance form from a culture they were already familiar with and for others it was an epiphany!    So this blog is considering whether I indeed ever had any epiphany moments in last ten years and if so what impact has this had on me as a performer and teacher?

 

I look back at my first belly dance and an epiphany it was not. The teacher had little or no cultural reference to what she was teaching nor understanding or knowledge of music she was dancing to. She was just sharing what she had experienced elsewhere and the few moves and dressing up opportunity she had experienced. To be honest I cringe slightly at my early days of belly dance. It was the nineties and  I had left London and become a small town girl. Whilst wafting chiffon and jingling coin belts was getting back into dancing and performing  deep down my conscience was nagging me to seek  more knowledge and  cultural references about this dance form.

 

 Flick flacking my veil and dancing with chiffon scarves  made me feel uncomfortable and to be honest fake. In London I had danced as my alter ego “judeetee” who was a parody of all dances ( think judeetee does high art Pans People)and here I was in the hills becoming her! It was however not all bad.  I was new to Shrewsbury and I was struggling to find any dance class that would challenge and this one was fun. I can remember laughter and sisterhood and friendship many of which have stayed with me over the years. The dressing up and performance opportunities for one who is such a show off as judeetee was also a bonus!

 

 Moving onto another teacher I realised she had more than just the one music tape and had travelled to both Egypt and Turkey . She had seen other dancers and also referenced dancers she had watched on video. It is hard to imagine a dance scene without internet , iTunes, YouTube and the belly chitter chatter on social networks but that was how it was back then. We were at first dancing in a belly bubble beginning to create the Shropshire belly dance scene. Happily dancing away to Arabic and Turkish pop we believed we were presenting and delivering something culturally unique to the UK. We are so joined up now as you read this on the net you will laugh at this thought; I wonder on the beginning of the noughties how many UK dancers ( including you!) were considering their unique creative outputs regarding an exploration of Tarkan’s greatest hits? No? Not for you? How about Shakira then?

 

Anyway I am rambling! Back to big epiphany moments. If one is looking for cultural context for Middle Eastern dance then it was not to be found in Shropshire. Attending the  Jewel of Yorkshire festival was like a door opening to a new world. A sudden realisation that there were like minded souls dancing across the UK may possibly be an epiphany dance moment. Looking back though excited about classes and teachers  it was where I could find music, buy CDs and videos and watch other dancers dance.

The other realisation of a great truth was watching ( on my newly bought video ) the likes of Samia Gamel and Fifi Abdou . It was the simplicity of their dance. Just being with the music and dancing with their heart and soul.  This was intensified when I saw Yasmina and Randa dance on a Farida UK tour.  There is no cultural connection from chiffon scarves in a cold hall in Shropshire to the hot powerful emotion of Randa’s dancing. It blew my mind! This dance maybe about technique , standards and posture but also it is about a dance deep from your soul, an expression from your heart.  Randa connected with me like no other dancer had done before.

 

The first time I visited Cairo I touched the pyramids, shopped   in the Khan and visited the museum.

But the very being there, sitting drinking tea was a quiet moment of epiphany. Sitting in the  hustle and bustle of Cairo life , listening and watching gave me  the cultural context of  this dance.  A tired dancer in a cheap Lycra costume also revealed another truth . Belly dance was not some high “Isadora orientalist fantasy” here. It was a sleazy and disrespected way of making a living. Also there would always be a challenge of cultural context from this world of Cairo and my land of small town on a river and church hall haflas. Epiphany indeed!

 

Music brings with its own epiphany. The connection and emotional experience as Middle Eastern music for me has been deeply personal  and not something I can put into words. The musical journey I have been on means that this epiphany has been a slow realisation of music that was so very alien to me that now touches my soul. The realisation that I was able to then dance my story was the most exciting and wonderful realisation and something that came slowly rather than in one dramatic moment.     

     

  

“Mistakes are the portals of discovery” so says James Joyce. Perhaps the inappropriate stick dance to simply wrong music and skidding on nylon veils had to be done. So without internet perhaps my  dancing road  had to include (and dancers of my generation had to dance with chiffon and coin belts) to reach our own epiphany.  So I suppose perhaps it is time to step out of the closet dodgy CD ( or indeed tape) of Arabic pop in hand, coin belt, harem pants and chiffon skirt all on and dance like nutters remembering the good old days when you didn’t know what you didn’t know!

 

Also with no internet or fb to record those big epiphany moments over time in a brain such as mine they become hazy and blurred …. Just saying!