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    Be with dancer Masha for a day, from where she lives, to her dance class to late night performance, documented dancer's day of life, put it in a … Read More
    Be with dancer Masha for a day, from where she lives, to her dance class to late night performance, documented dancer's day of life, put it in a reversed order. Read Less
    Published:
A Dancer's Day of Life.
Reversed.
 
Be with dancer Masha for a day, from where she lives, to her dance class to late night performance, documented dancer's day of life, put it in a reversed order.
9:54 pm Berkeley California
My work is done, so I return home, loving my lively hood. It's a blessing to be able to practice and develop an art that fascinates and mystifies me. I feel as though I will never learn enough about this art form, even until my last breathe. I will always be studying and improving my craft. It's actually ironic that I am now a performing artist for a living, because I was terribly shy in my youth.  I never would have believed, ten years ago, that today, I would be making my living as a dancer. When I first started performing other styles of dance, in my teens, I learned through experience, constructive criticism and training how to develop performance stage skills. Though I had a natural talent for movement, coordination, and attention to detail, it was very difficult learning how to ease up on my self awareness and opening up to strangers! Conversationally, it's still not easy, and that is apparently why dance is my chosen medium. 
This little girl was following me around. Maybe she thought I was a "real princess"... it has happened before.
Children are often the best audience members, seeing all forms of dance through innocent eyes and open minds;  appreciating all dance equally, as an expression of joyful movement in tune with music; an expression of release in the present moment. A contagious experience of self enjoyment. Everything is new, exciting, mysterious, and beautiful. No judgments based on societal attitudes that inevitably develop with age and filter appreciation for art.
Most of my performances conclude with an invitation to the audience: join me on the dance floor. Sometimes I offer a lead and follow type lesson, sometimes there is a dance enthusiast or comedian in the group who wants to show off and entertain in front of their friends. This particular group of women reacted in an ideal way; it was fairly easy getting them up to join me on the dance floor, and very difficult to get them off. A few of them resisted my initial invitation, but eventually nearly all them got  up to dance. Some people like to be persuaded, and in some cultures it is expected that a person refuse an invitation to dance multiple times, later joining in after repeated requests and persuasions by friends and family. This party was super responsive. 
Making my entrance onto the dance floor. The music just started and everyone is looking toward the birthday person. The audience was slightly scattered throughout the room and unfocused, but I drew them to their seats after the first act. Afterwards, no one wanted to stay seated.. everyone wanted to dance, and dance, and dance.
Preparing my costume, in the waiting room area. before going out to perform for the party. Often, my performance is a surprise to the guests, so I wait 'undercover' until it's time to perform.
Refreshing my makeup before going on to the next show."Looking money costs money", as a friend put it... quoting a drag queen. 
 
7:38 pm Sunnyvale California
One gig down. One more to go.
Taking a final bow. Here you can see the greater details of my costume, handmade by my mother; search " Lana Couture.'  I'm incredibly fortunate to have her support in regards to costuming, because not only are her designs unique, stunning, and tailor made for my figure.. but because they are her gift to me. Purchasing professional, high quality dance costumes can cost literally thousands of dollars, so I'm very very blessed to have her support as my personal designer.
Dancing with the beautiful bride. She is Ukrainian, like me. One night, the bride and groom ( then-engaged) saw me perform at a hookah lounge in SF... after my show, they asked if I could dance for their wedding. They followed through with calling me a couple of months later.
Sword Dance. "Arabic" style Belly Dance, traditionally does not include sword dance performances; sword balancing acts were popularized by 'American Cabaret' Belly Dancers of the 1960s and 70s. I've found that most audiences like the 'dangerous' element of dancing with a sword, so I often perform it for special events.
The music started, which was my cue to run out onto the dance floor, into the next room. I often like to enter in motion, like a storm or a gust of wind, to start the performance with momentum and high energy.
Adjusting my silk veil before the music starts... there's a special way to hold a veil while dancing. Thre are various theories abpout the origin's of the veil dance in belly dance
There was no dressing room or green room for performers at this venue, so I worked with what I had. In costume, wearing a cover up.
Running back to the car after speaking with the groom, and discovering that the CD I had prepared would not work with the sound system; and I had to run and get my mp3 player out of the car. When I can back, we realized that the CD did work after all, and went with that. I've learned to always be prepared for the unexpected. 
Mingling with a wedding guest.
1:43 pm Foster City California
Sword in hand, ready to go...
Making sure I have everything for the show.. costume, finger cymbals, etc.
Painting my toe nails in the car ( not while driving, ofcourse.) Sometimes people appreciate the smallest details, such as whether the performer's nails are painted. I once had a roommate, also a dancer, who would always without fail make sure to paint her nails the night before a performance... I picked up this habit from her, but for me it is often more of a last minute concern. ' Dancers are the audiences "avatar" so they should be ideal in every way',  I one heard a dance teacher say.
Directions to the two shows of the day in had. First a wedding, then a birthday.
After putting my 'face' on.. aka, makeup. 
A light after class meal, before heading to the first performance.
11:51 pm Berkeley Bowl Market
10:02 am Dance Studio in Berkeley California
9:39 am Apartment
 
Dancer Masha (website)
Photographer Feng Haoyu