Monday, April 16, 2012

I don't spend much time watching TV unless my husband has rented a movie for our pizza night, or he pops in a tape of one of our favorite sci-fi shows, like Dr. Who, Torchwood, or that old vampire series from Canada, Forever Knight. But I know that lots of people enjoy watching the dancers on Dancing With the Stars. I do Jazzercise, and one of the professional dancers is a spokesperson for my favorite exercise class.

But I do enjoy doing the dancing, particularly the cha-cha and other Latin dances. I have taken a belly-dancing lesson or two, and did some research into it as an art form when I was writing my most recent book, Undercover Lovers. The heroine, Ameena, is of Arabic descent. She was a top spy but left the agency after she helped capture a serial killer. Unfortunately the plan had snags and he was able to torture her first, so she lost her taste for excitement and adventure and became a choreographer for music videos.

In this excerpt, she is trying to get the dancers to understand how to do the moves she has designed for them, and she reluctantly decides that showing them is the only way to teach them.

Ameena was so exasperated she strode impatiently into the center of the dancing area. She turned slowly in a circle, trying to talk to all of the dancers at once.

“Haven't any of you ever learned how to belly dance? You all know how to jump around and shimmy, but you don't know how to move your hips to this kind of music? It's a world-music kind of beat...it has Arabic influences and some salsa and meringue overtones. You can't just hop around like you're doing jumping jacks in gym class! You do know how and why belly dancing was invented as an art form, right?”

As she looked around, she realized that no one seemed to know what she was talking about. She let out a heavy sigh.

“Don't they teach you anything about dances from other cultures anymore? Belly dancing was invented way before the people of the western world had gotten around to becoming civilized. Harem girls had to find some way to convince their master that he was still capable of performing as a man, long after he was too old to do so. They'd dance around, simulating the motions of sex, then climb on top of his chubby aging body, and by their movements convince him and the eunuchs who were watching that he was having sex with them.”

Ameena looked around at the assembled listeners, meeting the eyes of many of them in turn.

“Now do you understand? You're having sex with an imaginary lover onstage, with everyone watching you. If you weren't an exhibitionist you wouldn't be a dancer. Now watch me while I show you what the hell I've been trying to explain to you!”

She shaded her eyes to look up at the sound crew sitting beyond the lights.

“George? Start the music from where it changes to that heavy rolling rhythm.”

She turned to the dancers as the music started to blare from the speakers.

“Now watch what I do, and remember that this is supposed to be a seduction song. Think hot sex. Think horizontal moves...”

With that she thrust her hands over her head and began to wiggle her hips. She moved them from side-to-side, then back and forth, then in a circle. As she moved her lower torso, she walked slowly, each footstep emphasized by the corresponding hip thrust that made it appear that even her bones were flexible. The music continued to inspire her, as she closed her eyes and seemed to be lost in it, her entire body in fluid motion.

No one could look away. No one even noticed that three men had entered the room. They strode purposefully in then stopped, as the woman dancing in the center of the soundstage captivated their attention as completely as she had everyone else's.

Ameena really was lost in the music, and for a time it was the only thing that existed for her. She was using the moves she'd learned as a young girl, enhanced by years of experience seducing men all over the world. She was doing the sequences she'd been trying to teach the dancers, but also embellishing it as she went along. With a flourish, she ended up collapsing on the floor as the music ended abruptly. There was silence for a moment. As she began to pick herself up off of the floor the room exploded in applause.

She smiled as she looked around the room.

Interested in reading more?



Tina Donahue said...

I trained as a dancer, so I love stories about it. Flashdance, Saturday Night Fever, The Turning Point are some of my favs.

Can't wait to read your book, Fiona! :)

jean hart stewart said...

Wow,faantastic, Fiona. I could almost see her sashaying around. And I love Dancing with the stars...

Fiona McGier said...

I like doing the dancing more than watching it. But music has always had that effect on me! When you are driving in your car and see that crazy woman bopping around in her car, squirming in her seat and singing along with the music? That's me!

Fiona McGier said...

Thanks for reading!