Lest you start thinking that this place is nothing more than a den for fledgling animal activism ("call my father!"), I'm here to tell you that, no, that alone would not classify one into the category of vagabond-ism (which is slightly less crazy than James Bond-ism, but that's another tale for another time) for which this blog was named....
No, my Friends--life around here is one topsy-turvy stew of many types of adventures, a veritable circus of near-useless--but very fun-- talent (which some would call art) of all sorts. This type of multi-talent would be quite handy, especially during my holiday break, while I was training with horses big and small.
Somewhere in the midst of all of the equine cornucopia, there would be dance. Yes, you are reading that true: I would be dancing...actually, teaching dance, on my vacation. How did I manage to swing that, you might ask? Pull up a chair and grab yourself a tea, for I shall tell you...
Oddly, I wasn't a dancer to begin with, I was too busy drawing or acting or doing all sorts of creative things.Just not dancing. I was not one of those spindly-toed lassies, not a baby ballerina, nor a prodigy of movement in my teens....I never had a dance lesson to my name in my youth. After I had finished University in the big city--with the big, fancy Film and Television degree, my father became sick (or rather, sicker, as he was always sickly), and so I decided to go home and help my parents for a few months.
Well, a few months became FOUR years. And so what's a girl to do? If you're like me, you plunge headlong into ANY type of creative job you can find. Apparently, in a small town, a big fancy degree will get you places....even if that degree has NOTHING to do with the jobs you are applying for. Thus it was that I became a RADIO DJ and a newspaper reporter. Granted, the newspaper thing was temporary, but still--it would be the start of, apparently, a whole lotta scribbling I would be doing in the future.
But neither here nor there...
One of my first assignments at the local paper was to cover a human interest story. Huh? This was a small, beach-side town whose claim to fame was its ridiculous Spring Break destination for young people....and I frankly wanted to stay away from that kind of trouble. I knew there was a small arts scene...but, it had been covered extensively in local print and T.V. Finally, one of my friends mentioned this: there was a local ethnic dance troupe in the area. They taught all manners of Eastern dance, and maybe even gypsy dance.
I was intrigued. I got the phone number of the local teacher, and a date was set to interview her. We met. Immediately, I was impressed with her. She was not an exotic beauty, but a beauty of another sort: she was an "older lady" (I say this because the automatic assumption is that the only "legitimate" types of dancers are young, good looking girls), well kept--I dare say she was impossibly good looking for her age, and extremely funny.
I talked with her for a good hour. It was clear she was passionate about what she did, passionate about teaching this little class each week. She also knew well the history of the dance, and proceeded to pull out brochures and write ups about the dance form, along with all sorts of sparkly scarves and costume items. She then asked me to come to a first class, to "experience the dance firsthand," and I did. I was hooked...but...
..it was all a bit overwhelming. Not because this was new information. Exactly because it wasn't new. See, to some degree, my people came from this background. The Roma (gypsies) had influenced the European aspects and Eastern aspects of both my parents homelands. I grew up typically around it: we knew the music, but we didn't dance.
Even now, traveling to many upland regions along the Baltics and into North Africa, there are clear insinuations that if a woman is a dancer, even should she be successful, it was because she HAD to be one; she must have been too poor to be able to properly educate herself or marry into some sort of money/security or--far worse--that she was seeking attention, even sexual attention, and that was her motive to do such scandalous thing. Heaven forbid if she was just inspired to do it.
In this country, too, there are remnant notions about these same ideas. I mean, when was the last time you looked at a dancer--even a Baryshnikov type--and thought: "wow, he's smart." Indeed, because a dancer uses his body, that's what most people see...a strong, agile, even sexy creature. Since most non-dancers don't have the time or access to ply those in dance with actual discussions, they'll never know that person's personality or intelligence level; they are left to deal with the image of dance, and nothing more.
Even now, I've sort of had to wrestle with this, even wondering if I should post about this at all because..well, people look at you funny, think of you differently, when you tell them such things. As I've mentioned before, people have a way of already loophole-ing me because of my interesting "look," and life. But mention I'm a dancer? Indeed, it's always fun watching as people's eyes suddenly glaze over after I've offered that bit of information up, as if all of the intelligent things I've just said is now null and void.
Worse still are the strange "admirers" who I, and my female troupe, always seemed to need to placate, even though we were doing serious work. Since the sorts of dance we did were historically done by WOMEN, we created a theatrical dance troupe that modernized the form, and we were doing serious womens issues through the dance. That wouldn't stop a gaggle of men who thought we should be giggly Marilyn Monroe types in front of them.
Ahh, I can go on and on about the many woes of dance life, but suffice it to say, I slowly, eventually would leave that scene after about a decade of seriously working with it. I loved my time there..but let's just say that teaching is probably about as far as I would go, at the moment. I will always love the art of dance...the business of dance...ahh, that's another story.
And speaking of teaching...here are a few fun photos. My friend Kira--the ever multi-talented videographer of some of my horse adventures, is also a dance friend (yes, apparently she also is a many-faceted vagabond type!) and took some photos of the dance class:
Pre-class hijinx (yes, that is me at the front, left side)...
More serious class teachings...
In case you are interested in gypsy history or music, I highly recommend checking out "Latcho Drom" on Youtube. It is a beautiful film about the journey of gypsy music as it goes around the world. It starts in India (yes, the Roma are of ancient Indian descent), and moves along through North Africa and then Europe. You will see different montages of singing, music, and dancing in this film...which I found fascinating.
Here is the opening, which starts with the desert Gypsies of India (Rajastan and the Thaar Desert):