Alice - Opening formation
The China Series

“This is impossible”

Goals. Dreams. Ambitions. I have always thought of these words as belonging to those elite successful few that have grandly manifested their creative ideas. You know, those who actually do the ‘10 things you should do every day to be successful’ people. It turns out that those words are applicable to you and me too. In my dancing, I have set goals, dreamed big and have always had a healthy supply of ambition in store. In fact, if you’re a bellydancer reading this, you’ve probably done it too – attended workshops, jumped at performance opportunities and got the certification and training you wanted. Those are all goals and dreams achieved and if you didn’t have a little bit of ambition, you wouldn’t have left your house. You want to be better.

In my mind, I am just a small-town girl with adventurous dreams, who loves to dance. This year, all that training, performing and downright tenacity paid off with a rather wondrous opportunity – touring with Bellydance Evolution. In China.

I cannot deny that it was a dream come true and an opportunity quite synchronous. I had a ‘day-job’ to support my passionate dance life, that I quit two days before I was asked to join the tour. I wanted a change, and so a change presented itself. Pinch me.

For those of you non-bellydancers reading this – Bellydance Evolution (BDE) is a Los Angeles-based company that “explores, celebrates and re-imagines Middle Eastern dance for the 21st century. By fusing bellydance with dance forms more specific to the West, Bellydance Evolution takes you on a spectacular journey that will excite both mainstream audiences and bellydance enthusiasts”. And let me tell you, they are successful!

Early in 2014, I watched Immortal Desires and Dark Side of the Crown – BDE’s first two productions – and was left in awe of the artistry of it all.

Alice in Wonderland is BDE’s third production and it came to Jo’burg in April 2015. For several reasons, I did not audition to join the South African cast but at the last minute signed up to participate in the Artist Development Program – i.e. rehearse with the cast and learn as much as possible about the whole production. I was a sponge for a week – writing copious notes and listening to every word that Jillina and Lauren uttered.

When the casting call went out for a potential Asia tour of Alice I applied, fully aware that I was on the back-foot having never performed the show and knowing how strong the BDE Alumni group is (…I mentioned tenacity earlier). I received an email saying I would be considered as a reserve and then the tour was postponed and I didn’t think much more of it – until early one morning in January, when I got a message from Lauren asking me if I was keen and available to join the cast for a tour of China, starting in April!

The stars had aligned, notImpossible quote just for myself but as I found out, for many of us on tour – the result of hard work and pure bloody (and sweaty) determination. Gratitude was constant despite many challenges.

Together, representing 10 countries, 20 artists united to perform 35 shows over 10 weeks and across 29 cities. We danced in 28 grand theatres and stayed in 31 hotels. We had at least 5 internal flights, took several bullet trains and as many buses as there are weeks in the year! And that is merely a glimpse into our very own ‘Adventures in Wonderland’…and a firm reminder that setting goals, dreaming big and having an ambitious outlook does not just serve those elite few. Turns out even us small-town girls can make it onto the big stage…

Stay tuned!