I survived getting into my costume, fixing the armbands and putting on my makeup and I’m now waiting backstage. There is a small space for which I unfurl the veil I have chosen to enter the stage with and see how it will behave. I am pleased that the veil is behaving; there doesn’t seem to be any static in the air to cause it to stick to me. I have my iPod and a wireless headset which I try to listen to, but the music from the stage is a little too loud to hear my music well. I practice anyway and notice my balance is a little off. I stop and think, and ask myself what body needs? Water! I’m a little dehydrated. I have a bottle close by and take a few sips. I start to feel better and continue to monitor my balance and sip as I need too.
While I’m waiting, I’ve enjoyed the company of other dancers and have encouraged and celebrated those who have finished. I play with the sequins on my costumes. I can change the colour of my costume from a bluish-green to black. I can draw a rough smiley face on one of the bottom edges of my skirt. I am so pleased that the costume fit and I could wear it for this competition. I’m not afraid of the skirt falling off, as it’s a dress style costume. I’m so shiny and feel so comfortable. This is my first custom made costume, direct from Egypt, by the designer Hisham Osman. He has sewn my hips in to make the costume fit better. The arm sleeves are pinned to the two hair elastics I had used to tie my hair french braids. My hair is loose, wavy and freshly coloured. My makeup is done for the stage and I am as ready as I’m going to be.
I am the last dancer of the evening by chance. In fairness, they order the competitors usually in alphabetical order, but because there was a mix up with the program my music and name are not there I was put at the end. Luckily I did have my music on USB, although, I wasn’t 100% sure it was the right version but at this point, it didn’t matter, I just wanted to dance in my shiny new costume.
Dancer after dancer the evening passed by and then it was my turn. All the hours I had put in for practice led me to this moment. I had seen the choices I had for entrances to the stage when I arrived at the venue and I decided which way I was going to enter. My music started and soon I was enter straight down the centre of the stage with my veil flowing behind me. This was my moment and I gave it not only everything I had, but I had so much fun performing. I saw the audience and I saw the audience but they didn’t make me nervous. I was just dancing, and for the first time, looking back I was truly living in that moment on stage; nothing else happening in the world existed, I was just existing on the stage.
When I got off the stage, I was a little winded but I was extremely happy with my performance. I didn’t know how I did, nor would I know how I placed in the competition until two days later, but at that moment, I was just really happy that everything seemed to work out and I got to give it my all on the stage.
After my performance we had a little follow up dance party with the audience. I led those still backstage, out onto the stage to dance. As I was dancing, I was greeted by a fellow dancer from Ottawa who cheered me for a good performance. I also managed to dance my way to other dancers I knew from Ottawa, sitting in the audience, before heading back to the stage to grab my veil from the stage and start backing up.
Over the next two days, I took workshops and chatted with many other dancers and people that had come from all over the world to be apart of the Masriyatt Festival 2019, organized by Nada el Masriya. The instructors were so giving and generous with their knowledge that I felt I learnt so much from them and hope that they will come back again to Canada.
Then the awards night came. After another amazing show and second competition all of the competitors from both competitions were called to the stage. I hadn’t watched any of the other dancers in my category so I had no clue who would place where and so I stood on the stage waiting. The announcement for Rising Star category third place…Erika! Hey, wait, that’s me! My name was called! I placed third! How did I feel? I had been riding the high of feeling good about my performance over the last two days that this continued the high for the rest of the weekend. I felt honoured that I was picked, especially since I’m representing a dance form I wasn’t born into. But, I love this dance and I’ve been lucky to have teachers who share their knowledge and passion for this art form. Some are born and raised into this dance and some, like me, are students of those born and raised in this dance form. To all my teachers that have taught me so much, thank you!!
So what is next for me? Well I’m feeling encouraged to continue to grow and improve not only my dance but continue to grow myself.