I studied with one teacher, danced in her troupe after some time, and,
after a couple years, began teaching classes of my own. I taught what I had been
taught. I had a few Fat Chance Belly Dance VHS tapes and pored over back issues of Tribal Talk, a periodical now long gone. But my dance world was narrow. By the time I was teaching, my dance world was nourished and informed nearly exclusively by me alone.
Then I discovered workshops. The first workshop I attended was put on by Madame Onca of Baraka Mundi in Asheville, NC. The teachers were Jill Parker and Heather Stants. It was the first time I had reserved my own room in a hotel.
I ate a complimentary bagel (and pocketed another for lunch) and went to
class where I knew no one. I spoke to no one and no one spoke to me.
I attended then show that night. Returned, exhausted to my hotel and went home the next morning.
It sounds lonely, doesn’t it? It sounds like a rather unfriendly atmosphere.
In reality, it was revelatory. I had spent the day in a room packed with dancers who loved doing exactly what I loved doing. And they were so talented. Not just the instructors, the other students…they were phenomenal. And they all seemed to know other.
I knew there was something here that I wanted.
I wanted the skills, yes, but I wanted that community.
In my little world, I was the most accomplished dancer I knew. What
I had glimpsed was a world full of dancers with varied strengths and skills who
nurtured each other. More importantly, they challenged each other well. Not in a competitive manner, well perhaps a little, but internally.
They were developing the skills they held as a community. They watched one another dance and were inspired, or instructed, or were simply appreciative.
From that weekend I took home a coal burning in my gut, a need for companionship, a craving for community. From that weekend I took home the seed that would become Lynchburg Tribal.