Belly Dancer Lorna Gow sailed on Noordam as part of the line’s On Location enrichment program. She blogged about her experience and shared it with us. Here’s her first entry. Thanks, Lorna!
This was a big day for me; my first day waking up on board the ship, from a deep sleep in a very comfy bed, and my first day of ‘work’.
The days schedule (that was put in the little box outside everybody’s room on a daily basis) told us all that today would be an Arabic class, two bellydance classes and a bellydance performance. Busy Lorna!
So half an hour before the Arabic class was due to start I sat down to work out what I was going to teach. Not exactly a lot of preparation, but I already had a fair idea of what basics we would get through in the half hour I was allocated. If we got past ‘hello’, ‘thank you’ and ‘yes and no’ I’d be lucky! I was pretty nervous though. I had a fear that someone who spoke Arabic would come along just to pick me up on something or make fun of my pronunciation. So the beginning of the lesson was a huge disclaimer that I was not a native speaker, but that I had lived there for seven years and had ‘got by’!
My fears were justified. I had a woman from Iraq come along with her American husband (I presume for him to learn?). Every time I said something I would give a sideways look towards her, which she always caught, but thankfully she would also nod in approval! At the end she said I had done very well. Phew! Our half hour actually stretched to an hour because everyone was so interested and asking questions. There were at least 50 in the class! They liked it so much they all wanted handouts so they could practise. There was yet another thing to add into my day – I did type them up and I actually posted the lesson in this blog in case you missed it.
Then, the bellydance class. I decided since there were only about 15 or so ladies I wouldn’t use the head mic, however, by the time we had finished the introduction I realised I probably should have, since I had nearly 60 people in the class! Great hilarity ensued and we were all shaking it to our hearts delight by the time the lesson was over. After nearly 17 years of teaching experience I still love that first class that people do. Their facial expressions when they are concentrating hard to move their hips in a figure of eight, their joy when they ‘get it.’ It is a small-scale version of having children for me – experiencing elements within the dance anew through their fresh eyes. I should do more teaching. I get so much out of it for me. When I moved to Cairo I decided to do very little teaching and focus on the performance. My thinking was that I could teach when I am 60 – but by then I wouldn’t be able to be performing on a stage in Cairo! Now however, looking back over my over 7 years here, I realise that actually teaching is important to me. To my own dance and development, but also on a psychological level, that interaction with women who want to learn. I plan to teach more from now on…
In the second dance class of the day I was impressed that yet again we had fairly high numbers and that many from the morning had come back for more! So I had to teach a class that was suitable for complete beginners, but also not a repeat of the one earlier – in fact that was the experience for the rest of the cruise. I taught 8 classes over the course of the 2 weeks, and in everyone I had the die-hards that come to every class, and I also had total first time beginners too. I don’t know people who plan their lessons allow for these things? I teach almost every class as I perform every show. Improvised. When I perform it allows me to gauge the audience reaction, to do more of this, less of that, depending on their response. In teaching, exactly the same. If I plan something too much then a lot of the joy goes out of the class for me, the interaction is lost, or at least greatly reduced. It becomes (read with a robot voice) “must teach x,y then z…” rather than (normal voice!) “Oh let’s do x… oh that works well.. but maybe since that was hard we will do j and k, oh and then z and then c and …” Well, you get the idea. I end up doing a lot more usually, but it flows, there is reason to it. Not a logical one that I could have planned in advance. But one that organically grows within the class between my students and me. Whether it is a taster session beginner’s class or an advanced professional private one-to-one class.
Anyway … back to the ship.
My 3 classes of the day are over and I had 45 minutes to get to my cabin, shower, dress, make up – AND sync my playlist onto my iPod. This last bit was my downfall. It always is. I can never decide which songs to dance to until the very last minute – which is why working with a talented band in Cairo is my ideal situation since almost always I turn to them after one song and say: oh do you guys know….. and usually they do and we perform it without any rehearsal. I guess I am addicted to the adrenaline! So, the iPod, of course, decides it doesn’t want to sync. No reason (ok, maybe in my time related stress there was a logical reason but I sure as heck couldn’t see it!). What to do?
Ah. IPhone… phew, thank god I have that. Ok, sync done tick… get to the Crow’s Nest (the bar I was to perform in at the very top of the ship, which is now FULL of people, literally a couple of hundred – let’s just say, most were standing because all the seats were taken!) 5 minutes before I was due to go on. Phew.
Now all I had to worry about was how much they would laugh at my bright pink skin that was clashing beautifully with my lime green costume. Yes I know, stupid stupid me!
Or at least that is all I thought I had to worry about.
I haven’t had an iphone for long. I didn’t even know it had a shuffle option….
Oh yes, I found out the hard way. Tell me I am not the first bellydancer this has ever happened to please?
I spent the entire show (30 minutes and 7 tracks) praying that the next song wasn’t going to the ‘outro’ music!!!! The gods were on my side… every thing else was completely mixed up, but somehow worked anyway, and the outro was the outro! Yippee. My relief was tangible!
It went very well. I had people up dancing and everyone was very receptive and complimentary! A good job well done. Pat on the back for me, Ouch, No… Too much sunburn for that!
I am kicking myself now that I don’t have a single photo of any of the classes or the shows. I was too busy doing them. I am sure there will be photos kicking around Facebook and YouTube… and if they ever appear I will attach them!
After I had finished I called Margo about something and she said, ‘oh, I am up at the captain’s champagne meet and greet, come and join us….!’ So I threw on a little black dress, as one does, and headed there. Three glasses of champagne later I still hadn’t met the captain who was too busy shaking hands with everyone but I had met and chatted with a great number of Dutch guests, who were a lot of fun!
After having been responsible for the entertainment so far that day, I then decided to see what the ship had to offer in its own entertainment! After a huge dinner of course. I am lethal at a buffet. Maybe it’s my Scottishness but I want to try everything and end up with way too much food. Everytime. Ah well – to be honest – the food was so good, every meal, every single thing I tried, that it was impossible not to put on weight during this trip! It just had to be done!
That evening I watched Jodie and the Halcats in the Ocean Bar, Ben and the Halcats (a different band!) do the British Invasion night in the Queens lounge and the amazing full show, Aces High in the Vista Lounge. Lounge is the wrong word for the last of those venues. It is a full blown theatre. The Show was fabulous. Far better than anything I expected to see on a ship and far better than many things I have seen in actual theatres over the years! The voices were superb and the dancing was wonderfully choreographed and professionally performed. The stage setting and backdrops were impressive. The whole thing beautiful.
That day I received some wonderful news and did some organising to arrange a special treat. You, however, will have to wait until my next blog entry to find out what that was!
Apologies for lack of photos in this entry- more tomorrow I promise!
Experiences such as having a belly dancer onboard are part of Holland America Line’s new On Location program. The itinerary sets the theme for guests to indulge in localized experiences that make time on board as enriching as visiting the ports of call through lectures, demonstrations and performances.