Monday, January 28, 2013

Dancing in Bangladesh: The Performance

This weekend was intense! We had our dance performance both Saturday and Sunday nights. Each day we had to be at the performance venue by 10 am to practice on the stage. We finished practicing around 12:30 pm and took a 15 minute rickshaw ride back to our house for lunch. We had just enough time to eat, get our stuff together and then leave. We then headed to a home with three daughters. Two of the daughters dance with us and the third is in college. The oldest daughter, Poly, helped all four of us (Angela, myself and her two sisters, Shima and Lima) with our hair and make-up.

Eye make-up halfway done!

Lima, Heather, Poly, Angela and Shima. It's too bad the Bangladeshi girls aren't smiling in this photo because they have the sweetest smiles and I love watching these two dance! Bangladeshi's don't smile in photos for some reason, but they are very happy, friendly people even though they often won't look like it in their pictures. 
Then at 5:30, we were off to the performance. What we didn't realize was that there would be a very long speech before the dancing started. We sat there for an hour unable to understand anything that was going on   before we could watch our friends perform.
The opening ceremony consisted of the girls dancing with strings of balloons and the guys come through with more balloons that stayed at the base of the screen for the subsequent performances. Angela and I held candles at the beginning and end of this performance. Then we sat again, waiting for our first dance. 

 Angela and I were so worried about perfection in our dances; are we lined up right? Are our arms at the same height? Are we all looking in the same direction? etc, etc, etc. As the performances began we realized that here in Bangladesh, they do not go for perfection the way most would Europe or the states. As we watched our friends, it seemed there was room to add a little of your own style to your dances. We saw this in our practices but thought, surely they would clean that up before the performance. Nope. That took some of the pressure off of Angela and I but of course we still wanted to look good out there and not like we were just jumping around on stage. The nerves hit as it was time for our first dance- the love song about a Bangladeshi man falling in love with a "maiden from a distant Allah".
I told my partner I had just completely forgotten the dance and he laughed. I'm pretty sure he didn't understand what I said. Cause I was serious! There was one part in the dance that we do twice, although on the first time around, Angela and I both thought we were on the second and froze when we were supposed to move. Angela unfroze a little faster than I did, but I quickly caught back up and the mess up is barely noticeable. 
I have attempted to input the videos to no avail. I think our internet connection
is just too slow here for the video upload.  I will see if Angela has any luck and in that case
try again, or add another post with just the videos.
Once we completed that dance, we had to run to the changing room, get out of our princess dresses and change into Sari's which neither of us know how to put on by ourselves. Poly and her sisters rushed back to help us. Safety pins were flying in all directions. Jewelry was being taken off of me, while new jewelry was put on. I was spinning into the Sari, then back out again to readjust, spin in again, pin, pin, pin. Mass chaos!!! Finally we were dressed and ready for our next performance with a few minutes to spare. We went back down to the seating area to watch another performance. Some of the mother's who are always at our practices ushered me over to them. They tried to help me flatten my Sari as I had so many pleats in it that I looked pregnant! They laughed, told me I looked very nice in their traditional costume "m'am very beautiful!" and gave up on flattening my Sari as the only way to fix it would have been to completely redo it. 
The Folk dance did not go as well as the classical dance which is sad because the folk dances are the reason we wanted to take classes in the first place. 
Angela and I trying to get this little cutie to smile. She wanted
her photo with us but no smile :(
Once the folk dance was over, we headed back to the changing room to put our street clothes back on. by the time we finished changing, the performance was over. We found Nazmeen, who loyally came to watch us perform and we all headed home together in an ez-bike (motorized rickshaw). We enjoyed a very late dinner (10:30pm) and went to bed. I was so incredibly tired, I could not imagine getting up and doing it all again the next day. Angela and I wished it had just been a one night performance and we could be done with it. 
We made it to practice the next day around 11:30am, and didn't miss anything. We got a very happy surprise when we found out we only had to do one dance on the second night (the performances were different both nights and only a few of the dances were repeated). Unfortunately it was the classical dance that we would be repeating. However, this saved us the stress of having to bring a second costume and change at the performance hall. We were very happy to only be doing one dance this time around. The day went pretty much the same as the previous day only this time we requested blue eye shadow instead of red (cause that's so much better). We also decided to wear a fancier bindi instead of the red dot we had on our third eye the previous night. 
Cruella Deville
This time around our performance was flawless. unfortunately the video wasn't as good, with people walking in front of the cameras. We received tons of complements from all the little girls (5-8 year olds) who had adorable costumes for their performances. We also received complements from many people in the audience and the mother's who had been watching us since day one. We stayed and watched the rest of the performances. 
We were then brought up for pictures and stayed for at least an additional 30 minutes taking pictures with everyone. We were also asked to perform our folk dance again this Thursday at the folk festival. It will be an outdoor performance and it is the dance we really enjoy and get to wear our bells around our ankles for. Although it will be another long day, we want a chance at getting a better video of that dance and again, attempting perfection in our dance.

 All in all, a great experience!

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