I don’t only write about art; sometimes I make it. Burning Man is an incredible experience, and one that I will write about more at length when I come down from it. One of the things that is astonishing about the great desert festival is that if you visualize what you want to do there, prepare like a m*****f*****, and allow fortune to slip the silk pillow of opportunity under your hips, amazing things can happen. I attached myself to a camp with a belly dance theme, and found out that I would be leading classes and flashmobs on the Playa. I come from a dance background (my mother started the San Francisco Classic Dance Troupe and developed what would become the American Tribal Style, refined, expanded, and brought to prominence by her student and company member Carolena Nericcio’s Fat Chance Belly Dance company). Though I had studied a bit with my mom as a teenager, I hadn’t practiced this form of dance since then, but when I found out I’d be doing Burning Man, and have the responsibility of teaching and leading performances, I started studying at Fat Chance in June. In a course with four levels I’m probably a talented level two; there is a lot I don’t know and in normal circumstances it would be a while before I would start performing. But I decided to ignore my lack of qualifications and use BM as a sort of pre-Broadway run prior to my official debut, whenever that will be. Fortuitously, on my first day in Black Rock City, while riding around the still-developing camps and getting used to the heat and dust, I met Gina Grandi, performance organizer for the enormous Playa dance venue Opulent Temple, and an active producer in the Bay Area belly dance community. She knew who my mother was (even had a few pictures of her on her iphone) and invited me to perform at their opening, probably presuming that given my background, I was much more experienced than I was. SO two days after I arrived in the desert, I taught my first class, led my first flashmob, and performed as a dancer for the first time.
Later in the week I found other opportunities and venues for dancing, and had my very patient and generous camp buddies take pictures and videos, an invaluable aid for seeing what in my movements and posture I still have to work on and what I’m doing pretty damn well already according to my dispassionate and unbiased mother. Here I am at Opulent Temple; the first song is “Magreb,” performed by Helm, and the second is “Soave sia il vento” from Mozart’s Cosi fan Tutte, performed by Kiri te Kanawa, Ann Murray, and Ferruccio Furlanetto: