What Goes On When I Compete As A Bellydancer

7th July 2014, Thursday. Time, 4pm.

“And the next contestant, number twenty two, Puah Hui Ying.”

I have to forget the pain in my knees. I never have that pain before, it happens only when I’m standing on the steps at the side of the stage. I could feel my heartbeat, faster than the drums beat playing through the sound system. The cliches of life all living in my cells right now. But I have to do it, I’m already here. A nod to the DJ and my song plays at the atrium of Far East Plaza.

Focus. Wait for the beat. Smile, shoulder shimmy, strut in to the middle of the stage.

The tips of my lips freezes perpetually upwards. Or rather, as my friend would point it out, the most fake smile he has seen from me. During the dance, sometimes I got off-beats. But the same smile remains. At some point, I am sprinting across the beats, dancing to compete to the finishing line with the music. But the music is not interested in competing in my silly race.

As the music goes, I slip somewhere in between the consciousness of enjoying myself and feeling nervous. Apparently, this effect goes into my wrists, as they flip around like it’s broken, forming a chicken wing like shape. I am aware of my movements but I lose sense of some parts of my body.

This is the moment when I am not one, I become more than one. I am the dancer who is competing with the beats. I am the dancer who looks drunk. I am the dancer who is enjoying herself. I am the dancer who dances not to compete with others but to enjoy herself.

1 minute 40 second, the music is inside of me. I make up the steps towards the end of the show.

Shimmy, step, step, spin, shimmy.

2 minute 58 second, I end my dance two second before the song ends. I hold my pose awkwardly as the audience hesitate to clap. 3 minute, the song end. Applause. I finish my piece, or my song finish me, I cannot really tell the difference. Gawkiness takes over, I forget to bow and speed down the stage. This is how my first solo performance end.

But my journey of dance is just beginning. Now, I know clearly that I love dance. I love to perform dance. I want to spread the positive vibes and joys of dance. I want people to feel the connection around them, the connection of simplicity, gratitude and passion.

Things will only get better from now on. I will dance on, bringing arts to life.


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