This year's River Festival was as nurturing, as beautiful and as relaxed as last year's, however I must admit I did feel like vomiting for half of it, I was nervous, I couldn't eat, couldn't really concentrate and yes, felt very sick in my stomach. I have always shied away from performing, always feeling quite anxious and never really getting the 'performers high', I have also shied away from exposing too much of my body since having children, well that all changed last Saturday night.
Flushed with nerves all fifteen dancers* (all of whom are mothers, except Tierra, who is 10), gathered together to get ready, there was lots of laughter, feathers flying, nervous wees and a beautiful sense of togetherness, many of the performers had never, like me, performed before, I was so proud of all of us together, the fifteen of us of all different ages, shapes, sizes and phases of fertility (especially Sammi, who was 8 months pregnant with her third child). I personally felt empowered because this performance was for fun, for us, for the community, it was embracing of everyone and embracing of what individuals felt comfortable with. I know we all feel insecure about something with our bodies but this was about embracing ourselves and being proud and comfortable in our own skin.
and then we danced.
After months of drought, there was a sudden shower just before we were about to perform, we were worried about our headdresses and a dwindling crowd but beautifully it brought the town together as everyone huddled closer, excited about finally getting some rain and anticipating the parade. The rain stopped, the drummers started and people started to gather around, drawn by the beats, the movement, the building of something that was to begin and then (as according to Scott) there was a murmur in the crowd, they looked up and there we were in a line up on a hill, resplendent in our costumes and then we started making our way down some precarious stairs to the drummers and the crowd.
For me, once we made it down the slippery slope and lined up for the drummers all nerves had disappeared, oh my goodness it was so much fun, the energy was electric. It was so wonderful to dance together as a group, with the group, for the group, I was so used to dancing with this group, that really the crowd didn't really exist, well that, partnered with anonymity that the costume provided equalled a boundary pushing glorious time.
Quite honestly, this time last year when I watched the dancers, I remember clearly thinking how amazing they were but in no way would I be able to do that, but spurred on by Kell Stoner and memories of hearing about how a dear friend used to do burlesque dancing and how in awe I was of that, I decided to through caution/insecurities to the wind and just get amongst it and yes, I loved it.
Here is a little clip from the parade, quality isn't that great, but it gives you an idea.
*oh for those readers who have no idea what i look like, i am in the second row of dancers, with the long dark hair.
And just when you thought you had your fill of feathers, bustles, bottoms, breasts and headdresses, here are a couple behind the scenes shot from our last dress rehearsal.
|photo by Johanna|