Tribe Elation   Dancing & Drumming

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So Long 2014

Posted by [email protected] on December 9, 2014 at 11:15 AM

Over the last year or so in particular, I felt conflicted and overwhelmed by this dance thing I have been doing. I sometimes feel like I am chasing my own shimmy. I came to a thought: what if I stop teaching dance classes? I spend a lot of time and effort on the dance business; I have been in the red since day one. Trust me, I don’t look at the dollars and cents for a feeling of success and gratification; I look at the dancers, my friends. Considering not teaching lifted a great weight, and it didn’t take more than a few hours to realize it was the right thing to consider. I have tried the idea on for size many times, and consequently spent many hours agonizing over it.

The Past: I have been belly dancing for over a decade, and embracing American Tribal Style since 2008. I have been teaching ATS for 4 years in two, sometimes four, studios. I retired from public school teaching and dedicated even more energy toward my passion. I have been trying to entice new dancers to join in, and stick with, this ultra-feminine and powerful sisterhood whole-heartedly for a long time. 

I have a core group who are good friends and have been supportive for years now. They have come to classes after long days of work; stitched and pulled out stitches; made purchases of tribal garb and accessories; I have dragged them across the state on road trips to perform, shop, and support other events. I have hosted dozens of events in order for us to dance where we live, and brought top-notch workshop presenters to the area. I have had the pleasure of learning Middle Eastern rhythms, and have danced with live percussion which is the ultimate thrill as a belly dancer. We have met the most amazing men and women in pursuit of this art form. It has been a great ride and I have photos and videos to prove it!

A Recent Next Step: I stopped renting spaces and concentrated on working closely with my core group of dancers by scaling down the Tribe Elation operation. July 2013 was our last studio class in Morro Bay, and June 2014 was our last studio session in SLO. I have been so thankful that we could open up our homes, spare rooms, garages, in order to find practice places that were roomy and free, so thank you. I was hoping to have monthly meetings to plan, review, evaluate, sew, and have fun, but it’s hard to get everyone together. I dreamed of (and stayed awake obsessing about) bringing dozens of dancers to outdoor festivals throughout the county, but we have become smaller and busier. 

My interests in percussion have expanded into other styles of music, namely African, and I went from beginner drummer to advanced beginner in these few months, thanks to the lovely group who meets regularly, and to my mentors Tracy Morgan (San Luis Obispo) and Lisa Beck (Santa Barbara). Of course, costuming has continued to excite me, and with a shipment of wax-dyed fabrics and a couple of patterns, I am creating garb to go with the rhythms of West Africa.

Being an “air talent” at The Rock, 97.3 FM, is a recent addition to the fun factor, as well. I research, plan, and play music for my broadcast The Seventh Wave, which airs every Monday from nine to noon (stream us at http://www.esterobayradio.com/). I am amazed by the creativity it adds to my life, and the support, friendship, and collaboration from dozens of my associates who are all donating time by working at something about which we are all passionate.

And then there’s Bellyfit! What a perfect transition and complement to what I already know and love! Combining African and belly dance, Bollywood, mudras, fitness, simple choreography, yoga, core work and floor work, more “costuming,” and yet another opportunity to be with new friends in this every widening circle of goodness, I have arrived at a new high in my life. I am expanding my offerings to the central coast and will soon be teaching four classes a week.

Present: Back to my love affair with ATS: I love reviewing moves and planning for new instruction as a teacher and leader. I love researching new combinations, fitting loose parts together in a creative way. I love discovering a song new to me. I love executing moves with precision, flow and grace, watching the footage over and over posting photos and ogling at how beautiful and happy we are. I enjoy the road trips, the workshops, both the showcase and informal opportunities to strut our stuff with others. I love the social gatherings and costume workshops where we giggle and craft together. Unfortunately, the business and management aspects of being a troupe leader and instructor have interfered with my enjoyment of dancing and performing, and I have to plan my departure.

Future: I am going to open up my life and my schedule (and yours!) to allow for the other things: writing, making music, volunteering at the radio station, gardening, reading, cooking, traveling, raising these precious kittens, teaching Bellyfit, and connecting with friends and family, for starters.

In the balance: So what does this mean as far as the troupe goes?

I will shift my energy and let go of the dance troupe. I know this is not a surprise to some of you; the downsizing was a necessary first experiment, and now I feel that it is time to taper even more. Transitions are a part of life, including my own, and I accept and embrace the changes that will follow. It’s time to let high expectations become more reasonable. I will retain duet status, enlisting the skills and support of one partner, because going “cold turkey” is not a concept I am ready to embrace. Enjoying the talent of troupes of several multicolored, spinning dancers in sync and raising ATS to the highest level will always be a pleasure. I will still be watching you!

 

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