By Nizana El Rassan
As weeks have turned into months, many of us have seized opportunities online to ensure connection to the dance form that we love. We have had to adapt to new times wondering when things can get back to what we remember for events, classes, workshops, festivals and all the things that we miss.
The offerings online have been generous. There have been free shows and instruction of all genres, not just belly dance. There have been shows by donation and there have been paid shows, events, workshops and classes as well. So there has been a wide gamut to choose from and many performers understand that many people have lost their jobs and maybe even their homes and the joy that they are bringing is appreciated. Other people have found an opportunity to spend their money on these online offerings that they would be spending elsewhere anyway.
Not only have I taken paid and donations accepted classes, I have been teaching private lessons online as well as co-hosting and master minding online haflas. I decided that if we couldn't go out and dance together in person, then we could do the next best thing. Not only have I brought dancers from one coast of the United States to the other together to dance online, I have expanded into international belly dance land with dancers from Belgium, Canada and New Zealand! Organizing Night in the Global Village haflas have been a lot of work, but it is been a great way of keeping connected with each other and seeing each other and cheering each other on during these times and I'm happy to do it!
I realize that every single show that I have watched regardless of who hosts it has had some sort of technical difficulty, and while occasionally there's been a little bit of talk we could do without in the chat column, most people have been very understanding and patient as the kinks and bugs get worked out and the learning curves take place. Sometimes it is beyond anyone's control such as internet outages, broadband width or overload because everybody is using it or any of the other challenges that we have come to find out as we work through these various platforms that allow us to connect with each other. There have been some copyright issues where classes or hafla music has been cut off, and each platform is different.
Some have capacities that can stream into programs such as Facebook or YouTube. Many of us have spent hours on tutorials and reading and sharing information with one another to learn tips and tricks into making it a successful venture. There have been some outstanding shows starting with Kami Liddle’s "Lockdown Series" followed by other groups nationally and internationally that have been sponsored. Night in the Global Village haflas have proved popular with full lineups each time and we have hosted such dancers as Aziza of Montreal and Serkan Tutar of Belgium. Shout out to all of those who are adapting, being flexible, thinking outside the box and finding new ways to keep dance going!
I plan to continue hosting Night in the Village haflas while this goes on and am in collaboration with three teams to make it happen. Our lineups have typically filled up in just a few hours as a lot of dancers wants to dance. The opportunities to study with those we have not been able to study with before seem to have increased, and the option of classes and times to attend also have seemed to increased. Who knows what the future holds in store? It could end up being a blend of online and in-person when we're able to get back to dancing in person. But it's nice to know we have had this opportunity to use and to learn and to grow and do share with one another the beauty of this dance shows online.
Nizana has long been involved in Middle Eastern Dance as a performer, instructor, student, troupe director, choreographer, event producer, and competition judge. Nizana's articles and reviews have been published in seven Belly Dance magazines and newsletters including Fanoos! Having studied with a wide variety of instructors, in addition to performing Egyptian flavored American Style Belly Dance, Nizana dabbles in folkloric and fusion styles. She is known for her expressiveness and connection to the audience. Nizana is available for instruction and has workshops scheduled in Florida and Washington State.