In the beginning of the year when I was knee deep in nappies and up most of the night with a hungry baby I saw this event advertised on Facebook. Of course I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to be thinking of dancing but I knew I had to take this performance opportunity…after all it was all the way in November! I needed the motivation of a performance to get me back into dancing and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. I could either improvise or perform a choreography on one of my DVD’s which would make things a bit easier for me to prepare.

Joanne posing with Fan Veils

Fast forward to July, the month of my birthday and I receive a pair of Fan Veils as a gift from a friend which I have always wanted to try. I love the way they can create beautiful fluttering movements and I have seen some wonderful performances where they are used. I am dying to use them but lets face it, it’s going to be a long time before I use them..or maybe not? I suddenly decided that if I was ever going to perform with them I would need motivation (yes I seem to need a lot of motivation these days when it comes to dance) and my next upcoming performance might be the only chance I might get.

Am I crazy? Not dancing for over a year and to suddenly take on a new prop I have never used and taking it one step further by creating my own choreography (something I never did much before I had a baby due to always creating dances for my troupe and classes instead). Yeah I probably am but my son was finally taking 2 hour naps in the morning and sleeping pretty well at night by then so I had the chance to make what I was calling my ‘COMEBACK’ something really great.

After a month of practising to online videos (which doesn’t beat actual lessons with a teacher proved by finding out on the night of the performance I had been using a left hand fan in my right hand all this time) I was finally ready to get creative again. Then I watched Victoria Teel!

Victoria Teel
Victoria Teel, My Fan Veil Inspiration

An American dancer who was among the top six contestants on the Belly Dance reality show ‘Project Belly Dance’ and later part of the Bellydance Superstars, this girl was amazing when it comes to fan veil. I had never seen someone use them in the creative ways that she did and also I liked how in many performances she only used one. Everyone I had ever watched had used two as it gives more of a bigger effect but using one allowed her to actually do more. I knew then I had to learn from her.

Sadly after discovering that she had no DVD and her ‘Teel Fan Method’ course online being very expensive I took to YouTube just to study her movements. How did she get her hand from the middle of the fan to the edge? How did she make the fan do a full circle in the air? These were the questions I wanted answering and I managed to do so with slow motion playback and many, many, many views. Finally after months of watching and trying to incorporate some of my favourite movements into my choreography I was done. My dance was completed and all I needed to do now was rehearse so I was ready for November.

Dance Space Differences

Last Saturday came so fast I couldn’t believe it. Never had a show crept up that quickly but I guess that’s what happens when your mind is split between your child and your upcoming performance. After many rehearsals (and my son playing the part of the audience member) I was ready, although I still had a few concerns about performing with my fan veil. In the past I have had a chance to use my class space to practise for an upcoming performance but this time I had only my small, cluttered flat with low ceiling and not much room. The amount of times I caught my veil on the lights was worrying and I had never been able to extend my arm all the way so I was concerned that although I had loads of space on stage that I might still dance as if I’m in a box. I was also worrying that the flow of the veil might be slower in a bigger space meaning that trying to time it to the music might be different to when I practised. Lastly there was the problem of travelling on stage. I tried to include lots of walk on time which could be altered to more steps if I needed it but again I didn’t have this kind of space at home so there was no way to practise. This last problem was at least sorted when I quickly practised my walk on before the show had started.

My Comeback Performance

Was I nervous performing for the first time in over a year? Not really if I am honest. I was much more excited and eager to get up on that stage where I felt I belonged especially after watching the other performances in the first act. I did feel a little vulnerable about my belly not quite looking like it did before I got pregnant but on the whole I discovered just how much I missed everything, the lovely dancers who I hadn’t seen in ages, the supportive community, the music, the dancing…just everything. This is why I pushed myself to do this remind myself that I love doing this and I shouldn’t give it up.

This was my fourth time performing at this event held by Vanessa in aid of the PKD (UK) Charity so I knew what to expect. My name was called to the stage and I began the dance I had been preparing for many months which lasted 3 minutes! It may seem a lot of work for such a short amount of time but I loved every minute on that stage.

Anyone who has performed on a theatre stage before knows that you can’t see anything but bright lights in front of you. While performing the audience was pretty quiet and because of the lights I couldn’t see anyone’s face so I had no idea how my dance was being taken and I did in fact come off stage thinking maybe it didn’t look quiet as good as I had hoped it would. During my dance I regretted wearing my ballet shoes to help me turn since the floor was already quite slippery so I thought maybe it didn’t go so well.

After my performance I had many dancers and audience members tell me how much they loved my dance and how great it was to see me dancing again. Even now I’m not sure if the compliments were more because it was my ‘comeback’ or if my dance really was that great but at the end of the day it is always lovely when people take the time to compliment you and I appreciate every comment. I would love to see a video so I can see what it was like for myself but if not I will have to bring the choreography back out for another show.

After Thoughts

I was so silly to think that my dance career was over and this show has just made me more determined to carry on. I might not be teaching but I certainly want to perform more at haflas, restaurants and charity events. I won’t be making as much money as before but I get to be Mum by day and Belly Dancer by night which is a fantastic mix of things I love. So I can assure you, you haven’t seen the last of me!

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