Rakassah East 2018

12-15 October 2018

Rakassah is one of the longest running performance venues in my dance life that I have been a part of here in the state of NJ. It’s a big deal for a lot of reasons.  This past year was difficult with the passing of Shukriya,who was the original producer of the festival, it just felt really poignant and close to me.  It was relevant, I think to many of us know our roots as baby bellys begin here at Rakassah.  Almost all my long term and substantial relationships have been rooted in and around this event. It felt deeply like a family reunion and very feeling filling and meaningful to all of us to be there and supporting each other and the event.

It’s a festival for everyone- from baby belly’s, to children to adult beginners and to seasoned international superstars. It is unquestionably a “home” event for me and I detest  when miss it and I’m VERY grateful that I was able to be there and enjoy the whole weekend. AND- ALL THE SHOPPING- should not be denied!!!

Friday I took off from work a little early to go take a class and really enjoyed taking Belladonna’s Dangerous Beauty choreography.  I rarely play with my sword at this point- I just- I need to- and I don’t.  I’ve spent time and energy learning how to use it- there is no reason I should and could not be! But I’m grateful for every chance I can learn from Bella- and grateful for every time I can play with my sword.

Post workshop I changed up and got ready to help out back stage with stage managing.  It was a rough start- but we got off and rolling and we had dancers from 7:15 to 10 or 11 PM. And I think we generally all had a great time. I even jumped on stage and did  “a thing” and did a cymbal solo for run to fill us some time! it was a ton of fun and I think it went pretty well.

Saturday the Salimpour Collective DC met up locally to review lines since we were going to be down a person and we wanted refresh to be confident of lines. It was a pretty successful hour of run through before we headed up to the venue. I left my bra *again* and had to run home and pick it up (and Bob!)- this set me back a little bit and I felt a the squeeze to get ready faster than normal. I dislike showing up and not having my make up and lashes in place- but sometimes it’s got to be done. So I hurried up and got it done! Fastest lash application ever!

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Bob and I got lunch and headed up!

We got dressed, ready to go and had appropriately run out of prep time- we hustled back stage warmed up and hit the stage! This was officially a debut of sorts to the dance community as it was our first festival show.  I am really proud of the work we’ve done despite being geographically far apart.

Once we came down off our stage high we all changed and just hung out and shopped and watched the dancers! It was a really awesome couple of hours. I had to head back stage at 6 PM to help stage manage.  I really love stage managing. there’s almost always some fuckery that happens- but it’s my job to help solve the problem before it becomes a problem for other people and ruins someone’s set. My WHOLE job as stage manager is to get people on stage at the appropriate time as relaxed and comfortable as possible. Really just help all the performers have a good experience. I’m really proud of the people that volunteer and get so much done and make it a fun place to be.  Shout out to all the back stage crew for showing up and doing a great job- We appreciate you! I worked till about 8:30 and then tried to leave to get home to get the dog out- it didn’t really work- I still left late- because that’s how Rakassah works.

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Wrapping up Saturday!

I finally got home- ordered pizza on the way and enjoyed that shit about 15 min after I got home and showered and degunked my face. It was GLORIOUS.

Sunday I got up fairly early- my intent was to go to the studio and take class but I wound up getting caught up in my house and fussing with my life (clothes- face- food-coffee). And finally got on the road Sunday around 11:30 to be back up at Rakassah.

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Rakassah Day 3!

I checked in as “available help as needed” and that I was ready to perform within a few minutes if needed. I did wind up getting a spot AND got to see a lot of my friends and dance family dance (GO DDLC STUDENT ENSEMBLE FOR KICKING BUTT!!!) and wound up staying all evening and had dinner with my dear friend Belladonna at the local diner.

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DDLC Student Ensemble! My tribe!

I’ve had a few days to process. I’m almost overwhelmed- the dance hang over is a REAL problem.  Rakassah is home. Rakassah is family. I enjoyed so thoroughly being around people who are passionate about dancing and sharing our community. it just really filled my soul. And I appreciate so much too that my close dance family appreciates the work I do and tolerates my emotional vomiting all over the stage as I deal with life and all the feels.  Please see emotional vomiting below. Shout out to my Galen Hooks training for inspiring me to reach further on my dancing and really try to capture and tell a story with all my body.  it’s hard- and I pick- but I was grateful to share.

Over dinner Bella and I reflected on how so much of our dance family was created and formed on that noisy wood floor at the Ukranian Cultural Center. I firmly believe I wouldn’t be here without them- I have so many memories there- good and bad- the time I cried because I missed my spot- the time my butt almost fell out of my shorts and the times we all killed it on stage.

Shukirya and Michelle have continued to bless us by hosting the event. I will be eternally grateful for the work they have done to give us a family and a safe place to come be together.  And it’s one of those things that if you know- you know and you’re there and everything is RIGHT.

I did a really awful job taking pictures… so I’m just going to throw them up here as one giant pack- because well that makes the most sense and none of these are chronological.

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Thank you Shukriya for the legacy. And thank you Michelle for the weekend and the memories.

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Good night Rakassah- We’ll see you in 2019!!

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