Any teacher will tell you that they learn just as much from their students as the students do from the teacher and I had such an experience recently where I was both humbled and in awe of the courage some of my students displayed when performing in the Marketplace of the Melbourne Middle Eastern Festival.
Knowing that the Festival was coming up, I asked the more advanced students if they would like an opportunity to perform, and although many had not performed before (let alone belly danced) in front of people they said yes, so we started practicing. Then another group of students asked if something could be prepared for a concert coming up in October. When this fell through, I suggested performing at the Festival instead. This particular group of students are from an organisation called Alkira in Box Hill. Alkira provides services for people with intellectual disabilities, their families and carers through the provision of day programmes, residential support, recreation and transport. The Alkira students started learning in February and by the Festival had had 11 lessons.
Then a new beginners class who started exactly one term before the Festival did not run screaming when I suggested performing at the Festival! I don’t know if I would have been brave enough after one term to perform and that is essentially what two of the groups of students did!
On the day there were nerves and excitement. Skirts were ready to be swished, hip scarves to chime, make-up and hair perfect. Then it was time! The music started and they all performed for the first time in front of an appreciative and supportive audience and did both themselves and me proud. I am in awe of how much these wonderful women had the courage to step out of their comfort zone, scare themselves silly and perform. I know I took a lesson from that and will remember their courage when I am about to do something new and am not sure about it. Thank you!
Also published in the Spring Edition of O.M.E.D.A.’s ‘The Shimmy’