Susan Roden, age 67

Painesville, Ohio – Albuquerque, New Mexico

“It’s An Art Form!”

The shimmy and shakes syncopate with the flashing strobes of colorful lights and the hypnotic beats of music. Movements that vary with the desired visual translation. All is a physical artistry to convey the softness and fluidity of the slow veil dance, as well as the syncopation of drops and lifts of the hip movements to accent the drum beats.

The colors vary and are mesmerizing. Subtle pastels which caresses the eyes, especially during the slow-paced songs, whereas bright, bold hues added passion and zest to the fast-paced, lively foreign music. Shimmering beads cascade down and undulate with slow, swaying movements and then flash and whip with a staccato snap for the lively, upbeat stanzas.

And this was my world for 18 years.

Artistically it was a haven of creativity – from the costumes and music to the choreography. I was enamored with this art form and studied under masters for eight years and after five years progressed to performing on stage for over 13 years.

At this point I faced criticism and sexual innuendos to the art form I respected. I was questioned of my ethnicity, for how could a blue-eyed and fair hair woman know how to perform an ancient Middle Eastern dance?

Men propositioned me for dates with requested private performances accompanied with lewd remarks that were continually made. They laughed at my rebuttal that I was married with a family and performed for the love of the age-old culture.

I was approached by strip clubs to be booked as a featured performer. Upon denial, they exclaimed I could make more money than imagined and after all, it was just a dance.

My vision and quest was shattered yet I pursued, while I closed my eyes to the audience.