Saturday, November 15, 2008

Oh What a Feeling, When We're Dancin' on the Ceiling...

Well, not the ceiling, exactly. That would be kind of hard. But what about the chairs? Or the tables? Do you dance on them?

Being a born and raised American, I'm not so comfortable with the idea of dancing on the furniture (not to mention the act itself making me uncomfortable - I really loose all sense of balance when at least one foot is not firmly planted on the ground). To me, dancing on chairs and tables (and bars) has always seemed a little, well, raunchy. Exotic dancers, the Coyote Ugly girls...the list could go on, but you get what I'm saying.

But it's different will bellydancers - to some Arabs, anyway. Sometimes, they expect you to dance on their chair. And if they offer you their chair and you don't dance on it, they are actually insulted. When I used to dance with Amira Mor's company, there was a point in every gig when Amira would go around yelling for all of us to get up on the chairs - and so we did, 6 or 7 bellydancers, scattered throughout a restaurant or banquet hall, standing on chairs and shimmying their butts off. It was a sight, I'm sure. I always felt kind of weird doing it, although I have always been treated respectfully by the guests who have graciously given me their chairs.

Tonight was the first time I got on a chair since I left Amira's company. I was at a crazy 70th birthday party - so much fun, kids everywhere, adults dancing with me; it was a blast. Towards the end of the set, one of the kids (a young teenage girl) was just standing on a chair and dancing. And then one of the adults got on a chair. And then another. And then me. I jumped up there with them and they loved it. And I loved it to. It was so much fun, and I'm sure it made for some great pictures.

I think that, with the right crowd, dancing on the furniture can be a fun addition to a show. With the wrong crowd, it can be taken the wrong way, so you need to be careful reading your audience. I think I'll consider doing it more often, when I find the perfect moment, like tonight.

What do you think? Do you dance on chairs or tables? What has been your experience with the reaction of your audience? Any mishaps? Love it, hate it, tell me!


Kim said...

I'm glad you posted about this. The first time anyone asked me to dance on a chair I was mortified, for all of the reasons you mention at the beginning of your post. It's good for American dancers to understand that cultural norms are very different on this topic!

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