Tribal Days

I’ve been observing how dancers are body centered. They have reasons to be. In search of perfection, they work really hard. I hope one day I feel the same need of physical ostentation (more than sometimes I already feel) and people recognize the right we (dancers or no dancers) have to be proud of our own bodies.

Since elements of the national dance company joined us, ballet slowed down a bit. However, the important is that our progress is visible. At least I notice my own, knowing my lazy body really well as I know.

If not for the professional group, I wouldn’t have had contacts (only photographic) with American tap dance and mapiko (more than photographic). Mapiko is a tribal dance from Cabo Delgado province, associated with the ceremonies of initiation.

I didn’t expect ballet would lead to different types of dances, much less mapiko. And I love it! I know that part of my attraction is due to the teacher’s charisma. The first time, I danced half an hour and felt like an intruder. This week I danced one hour (the class is one hour and a half) and the reception was friendly. I am learning something (maybe valuable) with the professional dancers: they are not particularly nice (with a few exceptions) and I understand why. They demand so much from their bodies that they don’t have time or disposition for niceties. Though, they can smile when they dance. And they smile a lot when they dance mapiko!

In the end of that hour, I was feeling a strong pain in my kidney area and was only relieved when I heard one of the national performers informing the teacher he was feeling precisely the same. Surely I keep all sorts of creams and gels at home and never wait long to apply them.

Another good thing about mapiko is that if the ballet teacher decides to leave Mozambique (it happened before with other teachers I liked), I still have other option to keep me busy. In fact, I have to tell you that we are not dancing tribal mapiko but a modern fusion influenced by different African styles. Our energetic (and short) teacher explained this aspect the previous class.

For now I just have a complaint: the drums are played so loud to keep us in the right (frenetic) rhythm that by the end of the class I was feeling a strong vibration in my left ear. No doubt I’ll have to protect my ears if I pursue tribal dancing.

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