I am honored to have been accepted to teach Middle Eastern Dance for my seventh “Season” at the esteemed Chautauqua Institution in New York State. For two separate weeks in July it will be my privilege to instruct students who are enthusiastic, multicultural and all ages. By the third class they will be baring their midriffs, shimmying like there is no tomorrow and learning choreography. I have the joy of mapping their progress while enjoying a respite away from husband and home.
This is a working vacation. The planning, preparation and amount of packing is overwhelming. Instructing at Chautauqua is the equivalent of being a professor at Harvard. You have to be at the top of your game. After all, some students are professors from Harvard! I have taught doctors, ministers, lawyers, millionaires, teens and the elderly. I have even had retired and current professional dancers as students. When not instructing, I’m networking as a dancer and writer.
This first week will be special because the theme is Egypt, a place that I hold dear to my heart and fondly in my memory. In 2008, I had the opportunity to attend the famous Ahlan Wa Sahlan dance festival in Giza and tour the country for three weeks. The theme and its speakers will surely bring back fond memories. Sharing the dance during this week will be special as well.
Thoughts of Egypt stir up memories of my special travels in Egypt.
Egypt. To the Islamic world, there is Mecca. In the Jewish religion, there is Israel. To Catholics, there is Rome.
For a belly dancer, there is Egypt.
The cradle of civilization is the center of the belly dance world, where the world’s oldest dance originated. To this day, Egypt is the dream destination of every belly dancer.
I lived my dream. For nineteen days, I was privileged to experience the wonders of the ancient world. The great pyramids at Giza and the tombs of the Pharaohs were my exploration. The Cairo Museum with its mummies, a desert oasis, famed Alexandria and the Nile River with the temple of Karnak were sites to behold.
Most of all, I experienced the largest gathering of belly dancers in the world, the Alhlan Wa Sahlan Dance Festival
at the base of the pyramids. Every summer, the historic Mena House hosts a week of dance lessons and performances by the world’s greatest and best dancers. To study with the masters of this ancient art form is an honor. To expand my knowledge of belly dance, as with any art form, one must be the consummate student. This afforded the world’s best education and I returned with a refreshed outlook on dance and material to share with students, not to mention some new costumes.
When the opportunity arose to join an intimate tour, I couldn’t pass it up. The inner voice in my head, the one we should take the time to listen to, urged me on. There is never the “right time” to take three weeks away from house and home, from business and family to jet off to the far reaches of the world.
If one waited for the ideal moment, it would never come and all one would experience is one’s own backyard.
Life is a journey. Travel is an adventure. Getting out of your comfort zone broadens your horizons, creates lifelong memories and affords amazing experiences. I urge everyone to take the leap ... obtain a passport ... budget some money ... buy a ticket to a destination outside of the United States to experience another culture. Whether it’s Egypt or Paris or even The Chautauqua Institution, go!
The right moment is NOW!