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Viviane, 2nd place winner
Gilded Serpent presents...
Dancing For Masters
by Vivian Bressan “Vivi”

2nd place winner of
The Queen of Raks Sharqi Competition

Ahlan Cairo Nights
Dallas, Texas, August 4, 2005

I had always thought that at some point in my dance career, I would be participating in a dance contest.  Nevertheless, I knew I would only consider dancing in a contest if the judges were renowned masters of Oriental dance. It is not easy to decide whether or not to dance in a competition, nor is it simple to decide which competition to enter. When I heard that Raqia Hassan, Farida Fahmy and Dr. Mo Geddawi were coming to the U.S. to be the judges of the Queen of Raks Sharqi Competition, I knew that I had to do it!

I have been dancing for 7 years, have taken classes with great instructors, and have had as my guide the great Camelia of Brazil. I felt prepared to take a new step at this point in my career. Even knowing that I was living in a different country and that Belly dance was different where I started, I had to face the challenge of participating in a competition.

After months preparing the dance, choosing the right costume, picking the right music, I felt ready when I went to Dallas, Texas, on August, 4th 2005.

Two hours before the performance, strange things started to go through my mind. The readiness that I had felt the day before had gone somewhere else.

 “Was this the right choice of music?  Does this costume make me look weird? Is my husband going to arrive in time? Am I truly ready for this?  There are thirty dancers participating! Wasn’t it supposed to be only 25? Who are they? Oh, they? Really? Oh, Oh…” 

Then the competition began… The contestants were 30 of the most beautiful and talented dancers I had ever seen. They had great costumes, music, and routines. It wasn’t my job to watch the other contestants, but I am only human, and I just had watch at least a little bit of each one until it became my turn to dance.

I grabbed my veil, fixed my hair for the last time, and waited for my music to start. I entered the ballroom, stepped up onto the stage and there the judges sat, right in front of the stage, looking serious, taking notes, and measuring each movement…each look…each breath!

I felt extremely fortunate for being there, but I have to admit I was shaking when I saw them for the first time. 

It was like you dream about these people your whole life, you admire and respect them, and they are so far away that when you finally see them, they don’t even look real.

Nonetheless, they were real: Oh! They were real! So, I danced, exited from the stage to the warm embrace of my husband, friends and other fellow dancers that come after my performance to show some love.  At that point, I knew I had done what I could; the rest was out of my hands.

I changed clothes and sat down to watch the second half of the show. I was relieved, not nervous, anymore. I was even able to enjoy the rest of the performances and to admire the dancers who competed after me.  It was a lifetime experience, and I will never forget it. Everybody who was there believed in herself, and so did I.  

Most important to me was that feeling (that lasted for 5 to 10 minutes) that I had danced for the masters!

From my experience, I might advocate that every dancer should, at least one time in her life, experience the energy of dancing in a competition.  If you do, you will see why it is so different from dancing in a show. It is difficult, nerve wracking, and stressful.

At the end of the day, only if you go through all this, can you say that you did it. Nobody can take that away from you!

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