Every year Nazeem Allayl Dance Studio puts on a show at the Red Light Cafe, a small performing venue in Midtown. Mostly it’s the studio’s professional dancers and amateur troupe members, but student performers are included in the program as well. Unlike our studio shows and haflas, you have to audition if you want to be in the RLC show:

Come in costume and stage makeup, and bring your music. We want to make sure you look appropriate and that you know the choreography. The format is the same as for the amateur night auditions, you simply perform your dance once.

When this year’s show was announced, Mary brought up the subject of us trying out, though I’d already thought about it as well. We had to decide on a choreography to perform, and it had to be one that wasn’t already “taken” by troupe members. That eliminated Haya Gat Alaya, which we had performed together at the last Hafla. We were just finishing learning Hanci, but with it being a candle dance we KNEW it was out of the question! We probably wouldn’t be allowed to perform it at a hafla, never mind in the crowded room at the RLC. So we decided on the other “partner” dance we had worked on together, Yoam Wara Yoam.

So we began preparing. We didn’t want to just use our coordinating costumes from last spring’s Studio Show (don’t really fit the mood), nor did we really want to use the gypsy skirts (too big & bulky for this dance). I ran across a skirt at Holy Clothing that I thought would work. Mary’s top and harem pants from the fall Studio Show went with it, so I asked Cindy if I could borrow hers. We thought of using our matching ShimmyMob hip scarves but they turned out to be too pink to go with the red skirt, so we chose gold beaded fringe belts, and black ballet slippers of course. As the finishing touch, Mary found the perfect pair of earrings for each of us at Target, of all places!

We started practicing the choreography, both in our heads and for real. Practice was complicated by me going out of town for Memorial Day weekend, and Mary being at the beach with her daughters the entire following week. Luckily we did have Sunday before Memorial Day weekend to practice together and see where we were having trouble, which let us straighten things out before our final practice together on Sunday before Monday’s audition.

Thank goodness for Sabeeya! When we realized that the available choreography notes were outdated, and neither of us remembered exactly how a couple of sections went, we worked out what we THOUGHT was right. Then we sent the revised notes to her, and she clarified a few points and filled in the one big gap in our memories. Whew!

We spent all day Monday Facebooking back & forth, anxiously awaiting the actual audition…at 9:15 p.m. Talk about a long day! I also had to deal with getting a spray tan, teaching class, having office hours, and filling in for evening meds at Good Mews. I wouldn’t be able to leave the shelter until at least 8 p.m. (because of the insulin injections), so I figured I was just going to have to dress and makeup at the shelter in the bathroom.  I also realized late that we needed to burn a CD, so I ran home to do it quickly, only to find my computer not cooperating at all. At 8:40 p.m. I dashed past all the Good Mews cats and out to my car, costumed and mostly made-up (still needed more mascara).

I was at the studio in plenty of time, just after 9 p.m., only to realize that I’d left my bag containing my shoes & belt in the bathroom at the shelter! Then I dropped my glasses (and the damn mascara) beside the car & had to find them in the dusk. So by this time I am just about a nervous wreck, and I think Mary was little better. But we just reminded each other once again that we were at least TRYING OUT, and whether we made it or not we are truly fabulous women.


There were only four acts auditioning — us, another duo, and two soloists. All four acts were very different from one another. Ours was rather classical cabaret style, a sort of “love lost, love found” story. One of the solos was one of the cute, sassy intermediate choreographies, the other an original gypsy-ish dance. Then there were B.J. and Olivia reprising their performance to the Commodores’ Brick House from the Hafla, complete with their “white Afro” wigs and tie-dyed bell-bottoms.

So we all four ran through our dances, with Schadia taking notes. After each act, she made comments and suggestions on what each of us needed to do to make our performance better. For us she started with the tans — well, we knew that was coming. Mary & I are a couple of pale-skinned Northern-European-heritage gals who just don’t really tan to speak of no matter what we do, but we try! Then for me it was my facial expression (no “angry lips”), the front hip drop, & the “clap-for-me” hands; for Mary it was staying on tippy-toes & not hypnotizing me to sleep when I backbend!

We were told we’d get an email within 24 hours or so. We put the caftans back on, heading home to begin waiting…