Yesterday, a treat: Princess Farhana was giving workshops in Milford, CT. I really enjoyed this, both because of the Princess’s way of running a workshop and because of the warm, welcoming attitudes of the women attending. It helped me realize that the competitiveness I had felt at the NYC class was not just something I had imagined, but also, quite happily, that there are other ways of experiencing a dance class with other women. Farhana had us all say at the beginning how much experience we had so that she knew how to deliver the instructions, and we ranged from 3 months to six or seven years. This could have been weird, or a moment for showing off, but instead everyone applauded the “bellydance babies,” and I had the feeling that having less experience was just not something to be embarrassed about in this environment.
As for Farhana, my god is that woman fun. She has a style that I can only describe as “studied vulgarity,” and I mean that in a very good way. She playacted at being domineering and angry when we did the moves too quickly, she described some of the hand-to-head poses as the “one hand headache” and the “two hand headache,” she swore a bit too, but it was always with a sharp sense of humour. That was one side of her performance. The other was composed of dancing that was just lovely and graceful, a real acknowledgment of us as individuals, and a sense of warmth.
The class itself was quite relaxed, and quite varied in content: a big section on abdominal muscle control, some quite lovely combos which then had abdominal work layered on them, and finally, a short amount of time with veils. I didn’t buy anything: to be quite honest, I’m still a little weirded out by the intense shopping aspect of workshops. This was only my second, and while I really love shopping and getting bellydance videos, props, etc., it still seems kind of weird to me to gather around a table of wares instead of dancing.