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Gilded Serpent presents...
The Blind and Bellydance
by Zaheea

I've never known anyone who has lost their vision or who has been blind since birth. I can not even begin to imagine what it is like to not be able to see. So I am writing this piece just as a commentary on my recent experience with a customer who was blind. Myself, I am more than half deaf. That is very different than being blind, I know.

Being able to hear and being able to see are such different abilites so I want to make it clear that I will not and do not speak for those who are blind. I just want to tell a sweet and poignant story of a shy blind couple who had dinner at Marrakech restaurant on a night that I was dancing.

The restaurant was full of patrons. I danced my first set for the main room. As I exited, I noticed a couple who were sitting alone in the "private party" room. I also noticed a seeing eye dog with them. The small room where they sat is not cut off from the music that is played while I dance.

They could hear everything that was going on but were, essentially, unable to participate. I understand that they needed a quieter spot to eat their dinner because they had their seeing eye guide dog with them.

After I had changed out of my costume, I decided to go and introduce myself to them. After all, they could hear my music and everything that was going on in the other room. I also brought along with me the belt of my costume (the costume that I was going to wear for my second set). I introduced myself to a man and his wife, both blind since birth. This was their first time to Marrakech Restaurant. It was a joy speaking with this couple. They were so intrigued with belly dance, even though they've never seen it. They both really loved the music and were very interested in how the dancers moved or danced to it.

I talked about the history of belly dance, the costumes, and the music. I then had them feel my belt. This particular belt was of Turkish design, heavily beaded and very intricate. They ran their fingers over the beads as I explained to them how the fringe would sway with the movements. I also explained, as best as I could, how the different movments looked, using shapes such as circles and figure eights, to help.

I then stood up and, asking their permission, placed each or their hands on my hips as I demonstrated a shimmy, figure eights, and such. They both seemed to really understand how the movements went with the music and very much enjoyed the demonstration.

I then asked the lady if she would like to dance with me. She shyly stood, and I held her hand as we belly danced together. She caught on very quickly and was as uninhibited as anyone I've ever known.

She had a genuine joy in her smile as she shimmied and swayed to the music as her husband sat and enjoyed his wife's enthusiasm. This is the first time I've ever met a blind couple where I dance. Their interest has made me take a step back and really look at this dance in a deeper context.

They found this dance fascinating even though they had never seen it. What made it so interesting to them? They had never felt what a costume was like before. The music? The mystery? Whatever the reason, it made me feel good to "dance" for this couple.

They may not have been able to see me, but they did "feel" me. Dance is feeling. If we don't feel when we dance, what are we doing? Just the motions? Yes, I am applying the physical touch to emotion. They both hold true to me. We need to feel this dance. Feel the music, feel the beat, feel the rhythm. Feel it so we can pass the feelings on to others. Does it really need to be so technical?

This dance gives me the best feeling I've ever known. I hope others, blind or not, can feel it too.

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Ready for more?
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-"What have I got to lose?" by Zaheea
-Photos by Lynette

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If you are reading this publication, then you too have fallen in love with belly dancing.

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