… the Middle Eastern music, Maria twirls, her long dark hair flying with abandon. But not really total abandon –her moves were practiced and perfected, the rhythms relearned in this lifetime. She is the priestess instructing me, her student. Hip up, hip down, the drum, then the melody moving now to undulate the torso, the breasts shaking rhythmically and then transcribing the arc and the figure eight as the music softens, mirroring the hips, the music coursing through the body like the Nile through the land, bringing sustenance. The pelvis tilting rhythmically, up and down, side to side, directed by the hourglass shaped dunbek drum, then moving in circles, describes the melody with the rhythm. It is not random, but improvised as the music directs. The high reed flutes, the stringed kanoons and ouds, the clay dunbeks with their round, translucent fish skin heads, the metal drums deeper with more opaque goat skin heads – they all meld the music. Again the high reed sounds and I think of snakes dancing with the goddesses, pulled by the music into undulation.
Dum Dum tekatek dum tek a dum, the melded music echoes. The reed pipes pull the hips, increase the frenzy. Whirling, circling, gyrating –our faces flush as our bodies move beyond our minds.
I put the tiny round cymbals on my thumb and middle finger, learning to accompany the drum beat with the zills. My borrowed green veil finds the air as I move it around me in circles and then seamlessly wrap myself in it with the music once more. My matching diaphanous green skirt follows my hips and swirls to the music. High tones again turn to drum beats and the rhythm quickens.
Once upon a time, …
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