Sunday, September 07, 2008

Musings, memories and dancing on September 11.

Scheduling shows for Mirage is always an interesting and challenging experience. We have to work our dance schedules around that of the University, and take into consideration their breaks and on-campus events. If we’re lucky we get our shows every other Thursday (usually in the Spring) and if not, we end up with some back to back shows (like this fall). There was certainly nothing planned or momentous about the first show of our fall semester, but it is worth noting that we start our season on September 11, 2008. (And, if you’re counting…it’s the thirty-third season).

I hesitated at first at having a show on 9/11. Really, there is still so much emotion, politics, rhetoric and events surrounding that date; it’s hard to just think about dancing. However, I decided to keep that date, simply because Mirage has always kept their shows going…despite what has happened in the world, and with any luck we will continue to do so for another thirty years. Mirage performed before, during and after the Gulf war events, and in 2001 we performed exactly two days after the Twin Towers fell, despite the potential for controversy.

To start off our fall semester we had chosen a more folkloric choreography; a cane number to Farhot Shabob. (Nothing screams Arabic music more than a song complete with mizmar and zaghareets!) And, faced with the potential backlash against all things Arabic, and a country still shaken, scared and confused we had to decide if having a show that week, with that performance was the right choice at that time. And to make matters worse, the University had notified us they would be providing security for our event…just in case something happened.

Now, I love this dance with all my heart, but it hadn’t occurred to me that a performance could be life-threatening in any way (besides of course the wayward zils and swords). The risk of something actually happening seemed low, but it made us all stop and think. However, the group decision was to perform. Not everyone in Mirage chose to dance that night, and I don’t remember who, if anyone was a guest. All I know is that our desire to dance and to keep the shows going was important and necessary. We all needed a distraction from the events of the week, and in the midst of a nation grieving, we personally needed a sense of normalcy, and an opportunity for laughter and joy.

After all the discussion and debate, our fears were unfounded. The show was uneventful and in fact the security guard who was concerned about the potential for danger seemed thrilled to sit, take a break, and watch some beautiful belly dancing instead. As Vonda noted, we were just a bunch of white girls who like to dance to Arabic music. Nothing political about it, it’s just something we love to do.

In writing this, I wanted to take a moment to pause, reflect and share with all of you my feelings about September 11. For many people this date represents an emotional scar that may still be healing. For me, it represents the enduring nature of this dance, the support of this community and the lesson that every one of us can find joy and happiness when we have the opportunity to express ourselves through our dancing.

Any emotion and stories aside, please come join us this Thursday, September 11 as we kick off another fabulous Mirage season. We’re rested from the summer, eager to shimmy and just waiting to ‘rak’ your world! Come show your support for Austin’s longest running performance venue, show your support for some fabulous guests and just plan on being part of Austin’s belly dance history!

Where: Texas Union Showroom (24th and Guadalupe)
When: Thursday, September 11, 7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Who: Guests included Baharat, Troupe Amar, and closing the show…the amazing Sonya who will leave you mesmerized and a bit breathless (really…)
Cost: FREE!!!!!! (With the exception of the gracious tips you’ll leave the dancers, of course)