Bilge and the Belly of a Dancer

August 9, 2008 at 11:38 pm (Belly Dancing, Performance, Transformation, Uncategorized) (, , , , )

Bilge.  It’s about bilge.  Its the water that washes over the gunwales, sloshes over the decks, runs down in the cracks between the carefully tended bulwarks, sweeping along the detritus, the litter, the discarded and unnoticed scraps.  It seeps and trickles and drips carrying the untended chaff and refuse, the spent engine oil and sweat and dirt down into the belly of the ship.  There it gathers, that bilge water, in that lowest chamber, the smelly, murky runoff. 

<< Whatever IS she on about? >> you ask…

Bilge water.  And green living. 

<< Ah, it’s about recycling, then?  Alternative power sources? >>

Well, yes.  And about dance.  It’s about why we dance, and what dance is made of.  It’s about recycling bits of our experience into performance.  It’s definitely about alternative power sources.

So… bilge.  It’s that mucky, oily, smelly water that’s sloshing around in the belly of a ship.  It gets there because sometimes the water is too deep, the waves too high, the rain too heavy, the storm too strong to keep it out.  Sometimes the waves crash over onto the deck.  It runs down in the cracks because the defences are not water tight.  It accumulates in the belly of the ship, building up, adding weight, pulling the ship lower into the waterline.  If enough builds up, the ship can lose it’s buoyancy, can be swamped and sink.  It’s mass sloshes and rolls counter to the ship’s movement.  It interferes with maneuvering, it’s momentum trying to carry the ship on it’s previous course, resisting the effort to turn.  With enough bilge, the momentum can roll the ship if it tries to change direction fast.

It’s that mucky, oily, smelly emotion that’s sloshing around in the belly of your life.  It gets there because sometimes the water of your life is too deep, the waves too high, the storm too strong to keep it out.  It runs down in the cracks of your awareness because your defences are not water tight.  It acumulates, building up, adding weight, destryoing your buoyancy.  If not tended it can pull you lower in the water until you swamp.  It’s momentum can make it difficult to change, pulling you on in the same course, resisting your efforts to turn.

<< So, you’re saying I need a bilge-pump? >>

Perhaps.  Or maybe you just need to see that mucky, oily, smelly bilge water as the great gift and resource that it is… 

Think of it as Alternative Fuel For Belly Dancers.

Out of that bilge water, you can pull the power for performance, for power on stage, and for transformation. 

Ever notice how sometimes a song will tap into an emotion, something that comes up strong and out of nowhere?  That’s the bilge water rising up, carried on the music.  That’s some emotion, some event, some bit of your story that’s been washed down into the belly of the ship.  It may have been washed away by the water on the decks, swept clear enough you’ve forgotten it was ever there.  And yet, there it is, still sloshing around, washed back into experience by a tremor of qanun, a whisper of ney or the rumble of drums.  A feeling so strong it shortens your breath, takes your voice, brings tears you barely catch, fills your chest with a tension or an ache or a swelling sense of the rising feeling… all brought on by the simplest of things… a sound.

What power there is in such a simple thing.  The breath of a musician through a reed, the touch of his fingers on a string and up rises that feeling…

What magic there is in being a human being… to be able to react with such power to such a simple thing. 

And what a gift it is to a dancer, that rise of feeling, that momentum, it’s fuel for movement and performance.  If you can take that rise and turn it into movement, if you can stay with that, ride that, be swept along in it as you dance, your performance will be transformed.  The integrity and power of that submerged emotion can be remarkable.

If you want to create a feeling in your audience, create it in yourself.  If you want to move them, be moved yourself.  Nothing creates feeling like actually feeling.

That bilge water, it’s potent stuff. 

And as an added green-living bonus, the more bilge water you recycle into performance, the less you have to carry around.  Every ounce burned in performance lightens your load, raises your buoyancy, lets you float a little higher in the water, adds to your maneuverability.  The more of the oily, smelly, murky stuff you feed into performance, the stronger your performance is and the lighter your life is… now that’s recycling at it’s best.

So here’s to belly dancing, and bilge water.

– Aziza


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