Listen and Keep on Moving

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Etang's blog headshotI’m a planner. I appreciate structure and organization. In meetings, I like to have an agenda beforehand. What’s happening? Who will be there? What are our goals? How can I most effectively contribute? I like to know what to expect—beginning, middle and end. Life isn’t a fixed choreography. Some of the rigidity of my personal need for structure can put me in a box. I get stuck. I’m learning to embrace the spontaneity and the improvisation of life. Life isn’t in the future. Life is right now, in this moment. What garden will I discover when I take time to drive a different route home? Who will I meet when I walk in the door to a new autobiographical writing class?

Raks Africa dancing to shaabi music at Rakkasah in 2011

Choreography in my life and in dance has been somewhat of a crutch. There’s a clear necessity for choreography when dancing in the duet Raks Africa with Tammy. We strive for precision and synchronicity in our dance together. Hitting that beat at the same time on the same hip is everything. In a new shaabi duet piece we’re working on, we have been opening up to the idea of having a few moments that are looser and freeform. In rehearsal during that section of the song, every time is a bit different. In those moments, I feel present and not in my head. I’m listening and my body is responding to the music.

Etang, improvised dancing October 2012

For my solo dancing, improvisation has been a challenge. Fear and resistance get in the way. There’s no script. Just listen and keep on moving. What? I have been listening to Hoda’s shaabi song, “Bin Narain” over and over again on my iPod and as I’m working and when I’m driving. So, my structure cup is full in that I know the song and the changes of the song. However, every time I dance to the song, it’s been different. I have a skeleton outline, but not an A-Z choreography. My expression is the same each time because of the joy that fills me when listening to the song, but my movements are in the moment. I needed this and I didn’t know it. Bring on the next song!

You’re invited to join us for BOO Raks, a Halloween-themed benefit hafla for the Girls Raks Bellydance & Body Image Summer Program. We’ll see you this Saturday, October 27th at 1pm at the La Peña Cultural Center Lounge, 3105 Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley. We’ll be dancing duet and solo pieces and we’ll be joined by wonderful Bay Area bellydancers!

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