Mysteries of Middle Eastern dance
teach a lesson
By Todd Dawson
The Express-Times, Easton, Pennsylvania
Category: Enjoy Page: E-2
Golden coins shimmered and softly tinkled like dreams running through Aladdin's fingertips. Veils fluttered through the air, cutting soft swooshes with the shoosh of flying carpets passing overhead.
Gold bangles, bracelets and anklets glimmered like minarets graced at dawn by a Byzantine sun. Long-flowing gauzy skits and shawls dark as charcoal, green as paradise's vines, redder and more mysterious than rubies filled the air as dancers swept and twirled about the floor.
And everywhere in a room full of Middle Eastern dancing students there was hint of flesh as innocent yet as tempting as Eden.
Gold bangles, bracelets and anklets glimmered like minarets graced at dawn by a Byzantine sun.
Middle Eastern dance is better known, to the chagrin of its devoted practioners, as belly dancing. The latter term carries taints of salaciousness which undermines the art.
And an art it is that demands not just undulating one's belly in a sea-like rhythm but also in gracefully moving one's hands, fingers and arms like willow branches in a Levantine breeze. Students dedicate hours to learning delicate hand movements or stylistic turns of the head, even haunting motions of their eyes, all in synchronization.
Sunday night, I was sultan to a room full of Middle Eastern dance students as (Tahya hosted) a hafla,or party, to celebrate their studies...
One of those dancers in this seraglio for a Sunday was my wife, Meg Green, a student for more than a year, who not only performed a dance duet with a friend, April Helmer, but also played a flute solo.
Her passion for Middle Eastern dance was matched by my petulance . . .
until I saw her dance.
... I slowly began to submerge my ego in the mysteries of Middle Eastern dance to which my wife and her friends have devoted so much time and energy.
You see, it's the time and energy that I was pettily begrudgingly smarting over. The evenings that I'd come home and she was off at class. The weekends shared not with me but her class companions at classes and special weekend-long conventions.
Her rehearsals bred my resentment over time she "should" have been spending at home, sharing the day-to-day tasks that keep any homestead up and running.
Her passion for Middle Eastern dance was matched by petulance...until I saw her dance. The hours of practice, the pre-concert jitters, the elaborate preparations in the costume.. they all came to fruition like sweet figs on Sunday when Meg and April performed their stunningly beautiful number.
I've a hunch many households face this clash of priorities with one partner engaged in a community theater production, a dance class, a Legion band rehearsal, a church choir concert or a music recital, and the other one staying behind at home.
The lesson learned in watching my wife perform, amidst friends and their guests, was that her passion, her exuberance for the art of Middle Eastern dance bring a joy to her very being.
And that joy for life flows back to me in such rich abundance that in my shortsightedness I failed to see how enriching her talents were for me and for others. That same energy can't help but also fuel a creative energy throughout the community.
Rather than taking time away from me, she brought to me the gift of her talents, her passion for life, her quest for creative and spiritual fulfillment. Her creative talents used to their fullest became a personal gift to me.
Thanks to Middle Eastern dance, a veil has been lifted from my eyes and
I see my wife all the better for the splendor of her talents and her beauty.
It's a lesson I wish I had learned sooner.
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Todd Dawson is the arts and entertainment editor of the Express-Times.