Since my blog up and moved from its previous home at http://bduktv.blogspot.com (in case you fancy a gander), my posts have mainly consisted of ranting and complaining about one thing or another. You have probably already figured out what some of my pet peeves are, however, as well as being a disdainful blogger, I am also a dancer. I feel I should try to write more about that, at least on occasion. The thing is, one of my favourite Belly Dance blogs is by Princess Farhana, and she writes far more interesting stuff about the subject than I ever could. Secondly, while I am first and foremost, a dancer, I have opinions on just about everything and I would be keeping from you, a plethora of weird, random thoughts and angry rantings, if I were to only ever write about dance.
Today though, I would like to share with you, what it has been like, as a professional dancer, to move from ‘sunny’ England to Malaysia.
I wrote about my first visit to KL, in a previous blog on over on blogspot, so I won’t go in to that too much. Essentially, that visit, lead to my moving here in January 2013. Skip to September 2014, I am now married (that escalated quickly!) We have two cats, Monkey and Lemur and my mission, to Tribalise Malaysia, is ongoing.
What is the Belly Dance scene like here in Malaysia?
In comparison to the UK and European Belly Dance community, Malaysia has a small and sparse Belly Dance scene. There is a handful of major players who tend to run the majority of workshops and events that take place. There are not many small hafla’s and intimate friendly dance gatherings, they tend to be bigger shows on a stage, a sit down meal, often in a hotel or large restaurant. The UK has both, big stage shows, and throughout the year, many small Hafla’s where student troupes and beginners are given an opportunity to perform without the pressure of a big stage show.
As for Tribal Belly Dance, it is very new over here. American Tribal Style in particular, is not very well understood by many here at the moment, there is but a small handful of Tribal Belly Dancers. Currently, I am the only certified ATS teacher in the whole of South East Asia! In Nottingham, I was the first of my gang to gain the teacher training cert and become a FCBD sister studio, but now almost all members of my UK troupe are certified I am so proud of them! 🙂
The UK is saturated with Belly Dancers of all styles now and there are so many monthly events there, promoters often struggle to avoid clashes. But it is, on the whole and despite a few areas of politics and nonsense, a wonderful and supportive community.
People often ask me if there was any culture shock, moving to a predominantly muslim country. Actually no, but what was more of a culture shock for me, was coming from such a thriving tribal scene to a place where there are less than ten Tribal dancers.
Going from having at least one performance a week, most of the year and teaching a few days a week, to sparse bookings for performances and most of all, having very few friends outside of the few dancers I know but rarely see.
Finding students who are dedicated and really want to learn tribal was tricky at first in Nottingham, but eventually I found my girls, my beautiful tribal sister, Anna Sollini along with Pip, Robyn, Charlotte, Caz and the rest of that scallywag tribal bunch. My friend Denise, who journeyed with me from the start. In the hands of Anna and Denise, the school is doing really well now, often with a waiting list for students. Here, I currently rely on small groups of private students because trying to run ATS classes proved to be difficult with too many people coming and going. It was hard to get past the basics.
Learning ATS is rather like learning a language, therefore, in order to be able to begin to communicate through the dance form, students need to be consistent with attendance or it is impossible to create the sense of working together in a troupe or experience the camaraderie that you get from doing so.
I did manage to form a troupe for a few shows, but they have scattered for now. All of them, gorgeous dancers, life has taken them elsewhere. Perhaps, it is simply that the universe has not felt it was time yet, to unite me with whomever I am destined to dance with. Or perhaps, it is that my sisters back home, will always be the ones, with whom, I was most able to connect.
Still, it is early days. Patience and persistence are key. I am not going anywhere until I have inspired at least one person to become a certified ATS teacher.
With time, I am sure more people here will begin to appreciate how truly wonderful and life changing it is to be able to dance, in a troupe, without choreography, without words, synchronised and connected through dance.