Sunday, 1 May 2011
I watched my best friend in a belly dance extravaganza in Basildon last night. I never thought I would a) do that and b) write about it, but it was brilliant. I loved every moment of it, even the very surreal and perhaps unintentionally funny bits. Three hours long give or take an interval, the story revolved around an Egyptian king trying to find a silver ball which he gave to his Queen and annoying the Gods by doing so. They travelled to Spain, India, Tahiti and Egypt and I think the moon but I'm not quite sure about that one but there was a large photo of the moon in the background. This could be wrong, but following the story wasn't really the point - it was watching the performers. They swirled and twirled and undulated their tummies and belly buttons and smiled and stamped and gracefully moved around the stage shimmering all over the place their ribbons and bangles and sparkly things, some of which fell off during the performance but it didn't matter. Their ages were I would say, from 20 something to 70 something. There were all shapes and sizes, and I mean all shapes and sizes. Benny Hill would have absolutely loved it ('I like 'em big'). It was very much a celebration of women, about women and their femininity, which is I am told what belly dancing is all about. There were only two men in it (although there could have been one under the pantomime camel costume) who stood around and did sweet FA bit like at an Essex disco where the girls do all the work and the men just stand round the edges and try to pick up enough courage to join in so that they can ask a girl to dance a slow walkie around dance because that's all they can do. The men were well and truly outdone by the seventy or so female performers. As for the performers, well, some had been on the sunbed far too long, some needed to put on weight, others loose it, and none of them in any way cared. They were marvellous, colourful, entertaining and courageous. And they all looked as though they were having fun. I sat next to the choreographer's dad who was so proud as he should be. And oh yes, forgot to mention, my friend was definitely the best of the lot.