mad tea party flowers
The China Series

Touring Wildflowers and Freedom

It’s hard to believe that 6 months ago, we were a touring whirlwind moving from one city we couldn’t remember the name of, to the next. Life became a blur of midnight dinners, late mornings, endless bus rides and packing and unpacking from one’s ‘living bag’ (that travelled on a truck from city to city) into one’s carry-on every few days. It was modern-day nomadic living.

And freedom at its best.

For 10 weeks, I had no other responsibility other than to bring my best to stage. Made up, costumes laid out and ready for tech rehearsal at 5pm. OK sure, we also checked props, fixed props, rehearsed until sweat poured off us, sold merchandise and signed BDE stickers for fans and, my favourite – endlessly washed our clothes in the sink.

But, we didn’t have to cook food, clean a house, make a bed, drive a car, pet the dog, feed the cat etc. And most importantly I did not have to fit dancing around a day job.

We adventured through China, performing.

Despite challenges and, towards the end, things that began to annoy us (like the amount of rice present at every meal), there was never a day when I did not WANT to dance. I couldn’t bear the thought of putting on stage make-up or washing my hair some days, but when we came to set props and costumes backstage and warm up I always wanted to be there. It wasn’t easy either – we continued to correct choreography until our very last show and Lauren always made sure we had a vigorous rehearsal – but I always wanted to do it.

Touring life - Chinese landscape
Bus trip from Wenzhou to Lishui

While the Chinese landscape rushed by the train or bus windows I had time to consider what else would I always like to do? What kind of life would I like to lead and how do I go about creating it?

What motivates and inspires me – other than dance and travel of course? Where can I meaningfully spend my time and effort? What do I want to learn? And then I’ve started pursuing the ideas that surface – for example, I started this blog. The hours go by so quickly when I am writing.

Returning home from Shanghai, after a tough good-bye to my tour family, I watched Disney’s 1951 ‘Alice in Wonderland’. (No, I never get tired of the story). I love the part where the garden flowers ask, “Do you suppose she’s a wildflower?“. In my opinion, all belly dancers are wildflowers, seeking the freedom of a wild thing. Freedom from mundane chores, freedom of creative self-expression or even liberation from depression, abuse or trauma.

I said yes to touring because I craved freedom – even if I washed my clothes in the sink for 2.5 months. It was more than worth it. I am inspired to create this freedom in my life at home. And keep asking the question – what kind of life would I like to lead and how do I go about creating it, day by day?