|Posted by Tessa Thompson on July 2, 2012 at 10:15 AM|
I took my first belly dance class on the first Saturday of January 1975 at Meara’s dance studio in Dallas, Texas. I had never even seen a belly dancer but I wanted a fun exercise class and my sister-in-law told me a friend of hers really enjoyed belly dancing. After my first class I was hooked. Back then you weren’t considered a real belly dancer unless you could play zills while dancing. It took me a year to learn to do that. After a couple of years of classes the studio started sending me out to dance at private parties. I had a great time doing that but I never had a desire to become a regular dancer at a restaurant since I had a really good day job and small children.
My favorite thing about belly dance is the costumes. When I started dancing you had to make your own costumes. Since I could sew I had no trouble with that. In fact I also started sewing for other dancers, including my teacher Meara. In 2008 I purchased Desert Dancer Imports from my good friend Donna Thompson and retired after over 30 years as a computer programmer. I love making beledi dresses, harem pants and Turkish vests. I also enjoy making my Desert Dancer Flair Pants and Ruffled Capri Pants.
I don’t have any one specific favorite movement but I love everything folkloric. I loved what we used to call “ethnic” dance back in the 70’s and I was very influenced by Jamila Salimpour’s Bal Anat and belonged to an ethnic dance troupe called the Marrakesh Dancers. I think that is why I loved American Tribal Style so much when I started taking classes with Carolena Nericcio in 1997 when I lived in the San Francisco Bay area. Before I moved to Montana from Dallas, Texas in 2006 I was the director of a small dance troupe called the Tribal Crones. The three of us were all “ladies of a certain age” and we loved dancing together. I did all the music selection, choreography and costume design.
My greatest inspiration for my dance, both for costuming and for choreography, have been the Orientalist painters, in particular Jean-Leon Gerome. I was inspired by his painting of the dancer with two swords to create the first sword dance performed in Dallas in the late 1970’s although I only used one sword.
My current goal is to work on a cane choreography so I can perform in the Saidi dress I purchased at Ahlan Cairo Nights last year.