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PHOTO CREDIT: Above photo by John Rickman Photography, San Jose, California.

The Awakening


By Shira




Up from the floor!
Up on my feet!
The music grows louder
And picks up the beat!

The stillness is over,
I pick up the pace.
I barely remember
That still, quiet place.

The underworld loosens
Its grip on my dance.
I put it behind me
With barely a glance.

I feel the pulse quicken!
The power, it grows!
My spirit awakens
And energy flows!

I quick-step and shimmy,
I spin and I spin,
My movements expressing
The life-force within.

The beat grows more urgent!
There's more yet to come!
My essence responds to
The call of the drum!


PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Jeff Obermann, Corvallis, Oregon.




About this Poem

This poem was inspired by the beautiful art of Oriental dance (often called belly dance), particularly the style that has grown up in the United States that fuses Egyptian, Lebanese, Turkish, and other Middle Eastern styles of Oriental dance into a distinct art form of its own.

"The Awakening" refers to the part of the dance where the performer has just completed either floor work, balancing, or standing undulations. It usually appears as the fifth song of her show. In order to contrast with the meditative mood of the song just before, this section of the dance is typically done to high-energy, fast music.*

Typically, as this fast song reaches its close, the next part of the dance is done to a drum solo. That's why this poem closes with a reference to the call of the drum — that's what's coming up next.

If you would like to read the other six poems in the series celebrating the Vintage American style of Oriental dance, they include:

  1. Dance of Greeting
  2. The Unveiling
  3. Feel The Power, Feel The Beat!
  4. The Descent
  5. The Awakening
  6. A Drummer and a Dancer
  7. The Finale

The inspiration to write these seven poems came from attending a belly dance retreat organized by Delilah that was structured around the theme of the 7-part dance routine. Delilah encouraged all retreat participants to do journaling as part of the experience, and the journaling process brought these poems into the world.

*NOTE: The seven parts listed are in the order that typically dancers in my community in California did them, though sometimes individual dancers might mix up the order to suit what they wanted to do for a given show. Also, dancers rarely performed all 7 parts in a single show. Most people would perform just 3 or 5 of the parts, depending on the length of show the client wanted. Also, dancers in other communities have reported that they arranged these components in a different order from that shown above. The order of the poems reflects my personal experience, but there are certainly other equally valid ways to arrange the contents of a dance set.

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by John Rickman Photography, San Jose, California.




About the Poet

Shira has been writing poetry ever since she was about 12 years old. Her poems have been published in several "small press" poetry journals. At age 21, she wrote her first French-language poem, "Le Voile De La Nuit".

Shira first started learning Middle Eastern dance in 1981. Dance has been her inspiration, her creative outlet, her avenue to making friends in a new community after relocating, and her escape from her "day job" of being a professional Silicon Valley computer nerd.

Shira is your hostess, the webmistress of this award-winning web site, "All About Belly Dancing".

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by William M. Smith, Iowa City, Iowa.




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