Having been in the world of Belly Dance for quite some time, I have seen dancers come and go, some faster than others. A number of dance related people and things have been a constant, and when those cease to be any longer, it prompts a time of reflection on mortality, living in the moment, and realizing time goes on, just as in any aspect of life. I cringe, yet I understand when long time teachers I know retire, long running festivals come to an end and magazines I’ve read for years close their printing press.
While I have been in the dance for several years, there are still belly dancers who have been around longer than me, but it seems like every time I turn around someone is retiring because they feel they are too old or infirm or other life changes have prompted it being time for them. Many important people in our dance world have passed away. All good things must come to an end. I get that. And with the mainstreaming of belly dance, new dancers continue to evolve the dance and keep it very much alive, but the history and the connection to those who paved the way fades a little bit each time. Traditions are watered down with creativity and new interpretations.
Recently in Los Angeles, a week-long event called “LA Legends of Belly Dance” was held showcasing some of the very instructors I’m speaking about. If I wasn’t 3000 miles away, I would have attended that and I hope those who were able made the effort as I’m positive it was well worth it. What a fabulous and important tribute to some of the best in the field which included Sahra Saeed and Helena Vlahos among others!
Sharina with Zaghareet! Magazine, a staple in my library as a reader and regular writer, has announced her upcoming retirement with no fanfare, but she deserves accolades for publishing a quality magazine for so many years! I am so going to miss getting that in the mail to read and writing articles and reviews for her! Or what about the pending finality of the 30th Annual Mediterranean Fantasy Festival in Seattle next year? Thirty years of a successful festival known as “Medfest” of which I have attended almost all of, will be no longer after next summer’s blowout event. People I only see there that I may never see again.
There are other long running shows, publications, dancers and musicians who are either no longer with us or who are on their way out and time goes on. At the same time, there are so many current and up and coming incredibly talented performers, knowledgeable instructors and others out there that it is exciting to see what they come up with next. There are some costume magicians on the scene out there who consistently create the most incredible work who are “newer” to the scene.
There are more recently established festivals and conventions as well as up and coming festivals, and new online publications such as this one! There is a ton of great stuff going on out there from locally to internationally, and the styles under the belly dance “umbrella” have grown exponentially. I have added some favorite teachers over time as I continue to explore through workshops. I embrace newness and growth, while paying homage to our long time instructors, event promoters and musicians and hope that others can find the value in that, too! A big thanks to those past and present who make belly dance what it is today!