Belly dance isn’t often thought of as partner dancing, but duet troupes are quite common. Sometimes, I forget that people often don’t know this, and I get strange looks when I mention my dance “partner”. Then they think that maybe they’ve misheard me and that I’m a ballet dancer instead of a belly dancer. It’s a slippery slope from there!
I’ve had a belly dance partner from the beginning. A dancer named Julz was my first partner. She was the one who dragged my ass out to classes and got my interest in belly dance sparked. I was such a novice at that time, and Julz was a great teacher. She taught me how to balance a sword, showed me floor work patterns, and introduced me to all sorts of music. Most importantly, she taught me how to choreograph as a team. As in, how to choreograph without arguing and biting each other’s heads off. It can be a challenge to compromise on your creative ideas, but the payoff is choreography that is often times much more interesting than what you would have come up with on your own.
Presently, I have a duet company with Alodiah Lunar called “Carousel Belly Dance”. Alodiah is another gem of a dance partner. Both she and I were at approximately the same skill level when we met, and due to our amazing temperaments (pat on the back), we’ve been able to work together on a pretty much equal basis. We have a natural symbiosis that results in an equal input of song and choreography ideas. Also, we have a tendency to feed off of each other’s momentum when we’re choreographing. We’ve choreographed whole songs in a matter of days! Now that’s team work. Another bonus is that we both like belly dancing to old jazz music. It’s made for some cute little numbers!
Last year in Costa Rica, I had the experience of being the teacher and working as a duo with my student, Molly- very much the reverse of Julz and I. Molly and I performed together at Chili Rojo-one of the local restaurants- and it was so nice to have a dance partner again after performing solo for several weeks. Seeing Molly grow and improve as a dancer and collaborating with her was so rewarding. It hit me that things had come full circle for me.
I flew into Costa Rica a few days ago, leaving Alodiah behind in San Francisco and Julz in Los Angeles. But I’m looking forward to seeing Molly again. After a year’s time, I’m sure she has become a completely different dancer. And I have a feeling that we’re going to put on some great shows.