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Dancing into 2014

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Yet another New Year is upon us. I’m always reminded of New Year’s resolutions. I really prefer the term New Year’s Goals. I also have New Year’s prayers.

What are your dance goals for the coming year?

Are you planning on taking more classes? Teaching more classes? Dancing in new venues? Purchasing new costumes? Acquiring new props? Downloading more music? Perhaps, a trip to Egypt is on the agenda? Or a trip to Turkey?

My goal? To keep dancing. When one reaches a “certain age,” this isn’t so unusual. Every year I ask myself if I am still relevant as an instructor and a performer.

Ballet mistresses continue to instruct into their advanced years. With age comes wisdom, so I have been told. Instructing keeps one young in mind and spirit, keeps the body lithe and limber and pushes one beyond numerical age limits. Having students the same age helps their self-esteem, body image and offers an example. Younger students gain respect for age and aging. Belly dance, unlike other dance forms, can be practiced far longer. There are many senior citizen belly dancers, after all. They garner respect and are in demand as instructors. As long as I l am blessed with good health and love for the dance, I will continue to introduce new students to this ancient art form. The dance, in all of its incarnations, must be kept alive.

Performing has self-imposed limits. I, for one, believe that late night gigs in bars, restaurants and hookah clubs belong to the young, beautiful dancers with talent. After all, at my age, I really don’t want to leave the comforts of home for 11:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. dance gigs. The occasional private party, workshop and performance with the band are enough for me. When graceful aging turns into ungraceful, I will know when to stop.

The most famous dancers in Egypt are all over the age of forty. Is there an age limit? I welcome your thoughts.

What are your personal goals? What are your goals and thoughts for the world?

I have New Year’s goals and prayers for our world as well.

I pray for peace in the Middle East. There have been so many starts and stops without success. People around the world really should learn to accept one another and their differences already. There isn’t one “right religion” or “right” culture!

Let Egypt end its turmoil, as well as other Arabic countries.

In the Middle East, accept women as equals already. It is the 21st Century. Grant them the right to drive, be educated, marry who they love, work and dress the way they desire. If they wish to perform as dancers, do not degrade them. Accept Middle Eastern belly dance as an art form already.

In the United States, stop stereotyping people just because you do not understand their culture, lifestyle, or religion. Freedom is for everyone and not just the few.

Narrow the income gap in this country and around the world. It’s unfair that ¼ of the world’s population lives in poverty. Those who earn millions and billions of dollars should be sharing their wealth to make the world a better place. How many homes, cars and vestiges of arrogant living does one require? Even the Pharaohs learned that in the end, you really can’t take it with you.

Technology is wonderful but it cannot replace human interaction. We are becoming a solitary and mechanized culture. Technology is replacing jobs and creating an impersonal world. A computer cannot show empathy for you, hug you, kiss you, talk to you as only a fellow human can. Computers cannot dance either!

Remember that life is a dance. How, where and for whom you perform matters.

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