There was a time when our bellydance troupe was just starting in its new incarnation when we just wanted to improve. Perfect what we could do, do more, and do it the best we could. This is still part of our philosophy- we all want to improve. But there came a time when we realized that we weren’t having fun any more. And hey, we started learning this dance form for fun, didn’t we? It was an issue of taking ourselves too seriously.
So we changed. We changed our format to “raks wacky” from traditional raks sharki, and since have done routines like The Disney Princesses Compete on So you Think You Can Dance…. We teamed up with another local troupe and became the bellydancing Elvii to Everyone’s got a little Elvis in Them. (There’s a photo HERE although we haven’t bothered with the blog at all… oops). We’ve done a version of the Evolution of Dance, and yes, even a bellydance strip tease to You can Leave your Hat On from the Full Monty, (down to thermal underwear with pasties!) which prompted a “name” in the industry to tell us “you’ve set bellydance back 20 years. And it was hilarious.” Our goal was to bring the fun back to our performances. Now, I still perform and teach traditional sets – and you have to know the foundations well to do something like this. But I’m seeing yet another crossover with needlework, and I don’t like it.
What I mean is this – I talk to younger people that I see stitching, and ask them why they don’t go into the needlework shops. The answer is quite often the same. not that they don’t carry supplies they could use, or new techniques they’d like to learn. It’s rather because the people who have been stitching for ages all either don’t offer suggestions, OR, and I think this might be an important key – we tend to have definite ideas about how things should be done. There is One right way. um… no. It goes back to my experience as a young stitcher who was exploring medieval techniques back in college. The store – which specialized in cross stitch, wanted me to be stitching on aïda, with no thought that I might be doing a technique that required something else… or that I might be experimenting. Or that experimenting was good. After all, you just followed the chart and it all worked out, right? (Note: People in modern fabric stores don’t like to be told that they didn’t have modern interfacing in the Middle Ages, either…)
SO. How do we move past the “this is serious art and we must be serious” stage and back into the “this is fun and experimentation and shouldn’t be tedious” stage. Yeah, stitching a 22 inch Victorian doily completely in silk shading can get tedious. But what about that ipod cozy? Or the pocket on that denim jacket you’ve had forever? I want to encourage kids and young adults to have fun with this art form. To find their own way, whether it’s learning the techniques of the past or taking it in a direction that it’s never been before. I have a tendency to start big, complicated projects and take years and years to finish them (Part of that is that there are always MULTIPLE big, complicated projects in progress.) This coming year I’m going to try to infuse more fun into my stitching, over the top of the meditative quality I tend to have, and that comes from the big, monotonous complicated projects. The shower curtain is a start to that. It’s hard to be a complete perfectionist when the small stitches are almost a quarter inch long!
Someone said about the troupe’s last performance, “Just what we’ve come to expect from you ladies – clean dancing with a fun and innovative theme. Very entertaining.”
Clean, fun and entertaining. I can’t think of a better compliment to receive. On my dancing, on my stitching, my teaching, on the designs I present for other people to stitch.
I hope that my free 5 part e-course has helped some of you use cross stitch charts in a new and fun way. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you can sign up for the course and my sporadic newsletter here. 🙂
Remember to Have Fun.