Why Do I Bellydance? The Mary Edition (aka Tava’s Mom)

I asked my students a series of questions hoping to get some insight about why people come to bellydance class vs. why they stay in class. I have noticed that when people commit to pushing through the initial hurdle of understanding the basic moves, they become hungry for more. Others say it’s “too hard” and don’t go beyond a class or two. The truth is, it’s difficult. And it’s not the sort of difficult that immediately impresses an audience because it looks so easy. Therein lies the frustration for new students. Trained dancers merely become “in on the secret” that moving your body in serpentine waves or percussive isolations takes a great deal of coordination.
Mary, my mother, dances almost every day. She practices with her DVD’s, takes a weekly class at Work It Dance & Fitness and commits to such practice goals as “100 omis a day.”
Q: Why were you first inclined to take a bellydance class?
A: Because of you
For context, when I first left New York City, I started teaching as a way to meet people and bring a bit of the culture I felt was missing from my new life in CT. Mom took my class purely to support my endeavors but, 10 years later, here she is — a loyal student of bellydance.
Q: How long did it take for you to feel like you grasped the basic movements?
A: At least a year. At most…I’m still having issues.  When I realized how difficult it was, I also realized how much my body needed this type of movement.
Q: If you stopped attending classes at any point, what did you (or what would you) miss about it the most? What keeps you coming back now that you’re past the initial hurdles?
A: I would miss two things.  One, the specific kind of movement which comes from the core and moves outward to other areas of the body in waves. (and because I’m learning about science – all energy moves in waves so what better way for the body to move). Two, you are an excellent teacher so I feel like I’m in good hands taking risks with movement.  I won’t get hurt in class. (Aw, thanks Mom).
Q: What particular benefits does this dance, or dance class(es) offer you that you cannot get from other exercise, community events or dance forms?
A: To me this dance is organic.  It seems to come from a natural expression of the body.  It improves strength and fluidity.  I wish I were young enough to improve but just holding a level of ability is good for me.   I think the movements are especially good for older bodies which become stiff and more difficult to insert grace.
Q: What would you say to someone who is curious to try bellydance but is hesitant?
A: Since most of my friends are my age, I say what I just said in the last question.  I’m amazed that more of them won’t try.  It always strikes me as odd that people want to go places to explore but they don’t always think to explore within.
Why do YOU bellydance?

Tava’s Book: “Little Book of Big Advice: Enlightening Ideas for Bellydance Professionals”

Tava’s new book “Little Book of Big Advice: Enlightening Ideas for Bellydance Professionals” is available on Amazon.com.

Little Book of Big Advice: Enlightening Ideas for Bellydance Professionals

Little Book of Big Advice: Enlightening Ideas for Bellydance Professionals

Little Book of Big Advice: Enlightening Ideas for Bellydance Professionals is an essential read for dancers who may be considering a transformation from hobbyist to professional. Tava Naiyin, author and highly-accomplished bellydancer in NYC and CT, writes candidly about her experiences as an artist who has relied exclusively on dance-generated income for 10+ years. After receiving countless questions from budding dance professionals across the U.S., she compiled her answers and wrote this book to address what she perceived as possible gaps in training. This book cannot take the place of a mentor, however, it aims to promote industry standards and help bellydance artists determine if they have the right skills and circumstances to turn their passion into a career.

Readers can expect information about costume purchasing and care, performance etiquette, general do’s and don’ts, how to get the most out of practice, staying inspired, juggling art vs. commerce and more. Ms. Naiyin’s bellydance colleagues and mentors weigh in to share their thoughts and resources on topics ranging from: how to find your own dance voice, keeping the dance flame lit and effective marketing strategies. Readers can expect inspiring and practical tidbits from top bellydancers Andrea (NY), Angelica Jordan (Quebec), Maria (CA), Riskallah Riyad (CT), Sira (NY) and Zaina (Globetrotter). Anyone who is considering a career in dance or the performing arts will come away with useful information to help them make informed choices and avoid costly mistakes. To learn more about Tava, visit BellydancebyTava.com

What people are saying about Tava’s book:

Whether you have a burgeoning curiosity about belly dance as an art form, or are already a seasoned student ready to take the next step, this book is a must! Tava’s advice and insights come only from years of studying, training, performing and evolving as a dancer and as an artist in general.

Tava does not preach from a pen and ink pulpit; She is with you through this book, sharing her own experiences, “aha! moments”, mistakes, stumbles and triumphs as a dancer, artist, teacher and mentor. Her writing style is inviting and smooth, and this book is hard to put down once you start reading! She includes anecdotes and input from her mentors, peers, and students. Her love for this dance and her unyielding devotion to keeping this dance elevated and held to high standards is readily evident. Once you finish reading, you will understand what a gift this is to the world of belly dance!- Christine R.

An insightful book from the artist’s perspective. This book is not just about dance. It’s about passion, perception and practicality. Valuable advice in this age of “do what you love.” Anyone considering doing so would gain important insight into balancing one’s art and inspiration with the realities of life.

The interviews convey the deep respect these women share for the culture and dance they represent and the accompanying photos are beautiful. Bellydance is lucky to have such passionate and articulate advocates. – Mary

No More Meals at the Kitchen Counter – Adopting Mindfulness

Tava's mindfulness blog

One of the things I intend to work on this year is practicing more mindfulness.  I have had my fair share of phases with meditation but, sooner or later, a busy streak would rush through and *poof* there went my good habits until I gathered them all up again from scratch.  I would catch myself thinking, “I’d like to be more mindful but I’m so busy.” Ha!  I know how insane that sounds but, hey, I’m being honest here.  I know that true mindfulness has that quality of stretching time instead of taking more of it.

So, I vowed to stop the cycle of working all day, teaching private lessons, rushing off to teach a group class, and eating dinner at 10PM while standing at the counter.  On week-ends I would teach group classes, followed by private lessons, get ready, head to gigs and grab a slice of pizza to eat in the car on the way home.  I realized it wasn’t about wanting more time off, it was about making better choices with my “time on.”  I actually believe I can do all of these things and be kinder to myself in the process.

If mindfulness is an awareness of the present moment, no wonder I love to dance.  Being a dancer comes with a serene awareness of everything that is happening without judgement.  One minute I’m lost in the beauty of hand ripples to a delicious taqsim and the next I’m breathing into my low belly with a wave of undulations.  You see,  I have no trouble with mindfulness when I’m dancing.  It is my meditation.  But in my adult non-dancing life, it mostly comes in spurts.

Tava with veil, photo by TeresaEarly Mindfulness

When I was a little girl, I had a secluded place in the overgrown outdoors behind my house in Northern California.  I called it “Tava Land.”  I went there every chance I could and made myself so still that the animals didn’t notice me (even the feral cats would nap around me). I was very good at just slowing down until I felt like part of it.  Occasionally, if I deemed someone worthy enough to visit “Tava Land,” I would invite them to my little nook in the outdoors and just sit with them.  They must have found It odd because wasn’t a place for speaking.  It was a place for being.  After leaving California, I looked for a replacement “Tava Land” in NY but, soon enough I had other things on my mind — teenage things.

Goals for Myself

I may never find another “Tava Land” so I’ll have to create a worthy substitute.  I enjoy my life – my husband, friends, family, students and my community.  Every day, for the most part, I have something to look forward to.  But I can do a better job at managing the pace.  Here’s what I’ve started doing for myself:

1. Breakfast at the table: No more scarfing down an apple and a scoop of almond butter over the counter. At least sit for 5 minutes and use a plate.

2. Fur love: My animals are little furry beacons of peace. When I pet them, I feel my heart rate lowering.  The simple act of consciously petting them – easy road to mindfulness.

3. Resume meditation 3 to 5 times per week (to start).

4. Say No. I’ve had to turn down offers and politely decline invitations that I might have otherwise said yes to.  I take my job seriously and I know it takes hard work to remain fulfilled and at the top of my game.  I need to continue training/learning as well as teach and perform.  I can also check in with myself and say, “How does this serve me?”

5. A wink and a smile. Make eye contact with someone every day and smile at them.  I am sticking with people I know for this one – lest I might be deemed insane or give someone the wrong idea.  Plus I’m an introvert so, I’ll stick with familiar faces for the time being 😉 please-do-not-smile-at-strangers-400x301*********************************************************************************************

Tava is a professional bellydancer in NYC and CT.  She performs regularly for all family friendly events, galas, weddings and corporate events.  Tava also performs in creative/theatrical endeavors and enjoys her balance of commercial and artistic fulfillment.  To learn more about classes in Fairfield County, CT or to inquire about hosting Tava for a workshop, please visit: BellydancebyTava.com

Producing Events for the Bellydance Community & Beyond

On the heels of an event I hosted at The Factory Underground in Norwalk, CT, I recently finished all of the postmortem analysis and learned that I broke even.  This is a typical outcome.  Sometimes I profit, most of the time I break even, and once in a great while, I take a loss. With 17 bi-annual events under my belt, I have done my best to learn from my mistakes but I also know that I will make new ones from time to time.  I’m writing to share some of the arrangements I’ve had over the years in the spirit of total transparency.  Keep in mind, I fall in the category of doing this because I love it and it fosters student retention.  Also, I live in an area that is not known for its thriving arts scene.  There are very few options in terms of affordable space (and that number continues to shrink).

1. Profit Share – This is a great way to do it, provided the venue is willing.  It is the least likely to require digging into your own pocket and the venue is taking some degree of risk with you.  I did this for many years at a hotel ballroom.  They got full bar and about 70% of door fee.  This left me with enough to pay the band, travel costs for visiting dancers and have a little something in my pocket in most cases.  As my events became more successful, the venue wanted a larger piece but that’s not really what ended this arrangement.  The venue owner pat me on the head and said “Don’t worry sweetie, I’ll talk business with your husband.”  Oh, a piece of my mind was given…loudly.what-the-what2. True Promoter – This is another way to go when it comes to sponsoring events.  I assumed the traditional role of promoter for a beautiful (now closed) bar/lounge.  The venue got full bar and I got full door so long as I hit a guaranteed number of people which, thankfully, I did.  If the venue hadn’t closed, I think we would still be there today.  The drawback of this arrangement was no space for a band and I prefer to have live music at my events.

3. Tack on Extra at the Restaurant – This was my least favorite option.  Having an event at a restaurant, I had some flexibility in terms of accommodating last minute requests and not having to bring in any food/drinks.  It is nice to offer hot food and have a staff to help.  What could go wrong?  It’s expensive!  The best deal I could find came to $22 a person and I know that charging more than $25 leads to lower ticket sales so that left me $3/head to pay for band and PA.  Ouch!  I took a bath.

3. Self-Finance – This is the highest risk option but also has the greatest potential for earning money if you’re smart, organized and established.  I rented a hall.  Bear in mind, renting a hall means also renting a PA, paying for event insurance, supplying all alcohol because it is illegal to sell it and has to be worked into the price, paying for set-up/break-down, supplying all food and adequate space/tables for vendors.  I did this for a few parties and I think my hair went gray until I broke even on ticket sales.  I would sweat bullets laying out big $$$ so I was actually surprised when I yielded the highest profit with this arrangement.  The drawback of the venue was having to bring everything in myself.  It’s a huge investment of time and money but good to know I have it in pinch.

photo of Tava (Bellydancer in NY & CT) by Adam Jason photography

photo of Tava (Bellydancer in NY & CT) by Adam Jason photography

4. Self-Finance #2 – Currently, I rent from another venue that has a bar area, tables, stage and its own PA system (that is a big cost-saver and back-saver if you have to rely on your husband to carry it and set it up).  I got a little older and wiser and decided to make it BYOB to save myself the hassle of guesstimating wine/beer needs, buying it all, having it delivered and returning whatever was unopened.  So, this is where we are now.

All things considered, the events are the highlight of my year.  It is a very special feeling to see your students shine on stage and to watch their friends/families shower them with love.  I also feel fortunate to have musicians that work with me on these nights.  Carmine, Brad, Casey, Eylem, Rob, Pete have all been true professionals and have helped my students to fall in love with live music.  My husband is a sound engineer and production manager for famous artists so his help and guidance is beyond valuable.  My students assume extra costs by bringing food or drink, helping to keep me calm when I’m muttering nonsense to myself walking in circles and for promoting the event to their friends/families.

So, I hope to see you on May 3rd at the Factory Underground.  We’re going to do it all over again.  Here’s a bit of what you can expect:


Tava is a professional bellydancer in NYC and CT.  She performs regularly for all family friendly events, galas, weddings and corporate events.  Tava also performs in creative/theatrical endeavors and enjoys her balance of commercial and artistic fulfillment.  To learn more about classes in Fairfield County, CT or to inquire about hosting Tava for a workshop, please visit: BellydancebyTava.com

On the Topic of Gratitude

There’s something about Thanksgiving that begs us to pause and reflect.  I have so much to be thankful for.  I suspect many of us have more to appreciate than we have time to ponder, but the focus always returns to the people who enrich our lives and the experiences we’ve had that have changed us for the better.

funny-kid-boy-beach-water-arms-out-bring-it-life-picsThis Thanksgiving, I’m recovering from some sort of virus that has me too weak to join in festivities.  I’m on the mend but I am alone.  I woke up feeling pangs of sadness. . .alone on Thanksgiving without my husband for the first time in at least 10 years.  I felt sorry for myself for a good 30 minutes.  Then the calls and texts started pouring in.  I was thought of by people in Cleveland, NY, CT, Montreal, Portland (a la Maine), Kansas City and Sacramento.  I took my dog on a peaceful quiet walk amidst snow flurries with hardly another person in sight.  I got some work done, cleaned up as much as my energy would allow, and began to feel nurtured, loved, and grateful.

So, while I’m thankful for a closet full of Bellas, a collection of chocolate and spices (things I swoon for), technological gadgets, a steam cleaner (which I’m surprisingly excited to own), that stuff is just… stuff. I’ve been reflecting a lot on my relationship with dance and the amazing people & experiences it offers me regularly.  From my first recital dancing as a Christmas present with legs to dancing solo in theater shows, paring movements to music has been my security blanket, my social life, my passion and my motivation.

I know the day will come when I have a different relationship with dance and that it might even take a back seat to my life.  The end of 2014 represents my 15 year mark with bellydance.  I’m excited to see what the future brings.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Copyright: William Winters

Copyright: William Winters

Oops! I Forgot to Dance

Every once in a while, I have the pleasure of performing for a group made up almost entirely of people I care about.  This past Sunday, I had my 14th Bi-Annual Evening of Bellydance; a student showcase with a few professional performances rolled in.  My students have come so far and they have done so as a group.  They have overcome illness, divorce, empty nest syndrome, shyness, language barriers, college stress, family turmoil and the list goes on.  Many of them have confided in me about what dance means to them and how grateful they feel for the chance to be part of a community that enables them to forget about the rest of the roles they have to fill – and become part of something they love.  When my students perform, I watch the faces of their fellow dancers – their families and friends, and there is so much emotion.  Whenever I go through my moments of self-doubt about wrapping myself up in bellydance at the expense of other (more stable) paths, I remind myself of these experiences and it quiets that voice of doubt; at least for a while.

Years ago in massage school, I remember doing an exercise where we made a circle around one of our classmates and that person had to turn slowly looking each of us in the eye.  It may sound hokey, but rarely did the person in the circle get more than a few steps before tears came.  It was full of honesty and it demonstrated how much power there is in really “seeing” people.  This is how it feels to perform for my students, friends and family.  Every face in the crowd comes with an emotional connection and an appreciation.  For this I am truly grateful and I wish this feeling for every dancer…at least once.

When I got home and watched the video from my performance, I realized something different about my dancing.  I was not doing my typical movement style.  I wasn’t doing that much at all, really.  I was playing my cymbals and walking around looking people in the eye — enjoying the fact that they were there.  I managed to hit some accents and musical cues, work in a shimmy here and there – but there was less actual dance than I’m used to seeing when I watch myself.  The vast majority of my performances are for strangers, and the small group of repeat customers I’ve come to know.  There is a lot of joy in this as well, but I have to admit that there is nothing like seeing your mother’s face – looking proud- while you’re performing.  Dance is a therapeutic, cathartic and joyful experience on its own.  Add the feeling of emotional connectedness to your audience and it becomes something even more profound.

BIG thanks to my students for all of their hard work learning choreography, sewing, investing in costume supplies, challenging themselves and supporting one another.  xoxoxo

Kazja performing with Isis wings

Bellydance by Tava (NY, CT)

Ignoring Limits

The phrase “Where did the time go?” has been at an all time high lately.  I am hearing this from my friends, colleagues, and family members who are all pushing hard in the race against time for one reason or another.  Admittedly, some of this mentality is self inflicted but it does seem as though the turbo boost switch has been activated.  Or, maybe Ben (from the TV show LOST…of course) turned that space/time continuum wheel a bit too hard.  Who knows?  In any case, as I sit here writing, I am humbled and forced into a state of inactivity by my immune system…it always wins.  I won’t deny that I heard it whisper “slow down, take care of yourself” and I ignored it because I was too busy.  I know that I’m not alone with this behavior.   My colleagues regularly perform no matter if they are sick, injured or full on exhausted.  What can we do about this?

In the dance world, particularly when we rely on income from our performances, it is very hard to take a financial hit if we’re sick on a busy night.  I counted every dollar I didn’t make by not working Saturday night.  Sometimes we are booked for a wedding or special occasion, reserved several months ahead of the date, contracts are signed/deposits paid and we know we are part of a very important life event for someone that we do not want to disappoint.  The last thing you want to tell a bride is that you’re too sick to dance at her wedding.  With public performances, there is always the risk that a venue will prefer your replacement and we have to trust that dancer is an ethical person.  I know that my dance “team” is supremely ethical and talented so I, personally, don’t worry about this but I know it’s a factor for many.  (Special thanks to Zobeida for covering my Saturday shows)!

In a world that seems to be getting faster and busier, with people relying on us to be a part of their most special life events and the threat of losing a job to another dancer, how can we manage our time and acknowledge our physical and emotional limits?  I have written blogs about self-care and maintaining balance and for the most part, I manage this pretty well when all systems are firing.  When my body is run down, however, this is where I get in to trouble.  The bottom line is this, as I scan my brain for a mental highlight reel of the week-end, I had so many positive experiences that I would have hated to miss.  I feel I am a better dancer for having participated in the workshop that I hosted/attended, and left with a full and happy heart after the workshop I taught.  In both cases, the adrenaline and endorphins gave me a temporary reprieve from feeling sick.  I am not sorry that I didn’t cancel these events because the joy/knowledge I received was a form of nourishment.  Typically, my blogs have advice or tips for budding dancers to consider or learn from.  In this case, I don’t have any.  All I can say is that when you love what you do, things like being sick and dancing through it are just par for the course.  I don’t necessarily think this is healthy, but it just is.  I can hardly believe my fingers for typing this and I certainly don’t recommend this approach.  I can only observe that it’s true for me and for other dancers I speak with on a regular basis.

To be fair, I did prioritize which commitments I could hand off to another dancer and did just that.  I am sure that if I did it all, I’d be in far worse shape.  This is the compromise I gave myself and the prize at the end of the busy week-end was a full 24 hours with nothing to do. Today is a thank you and an apology to my body for ignoring its limits.  At least I can say that I’m smiling while being sick.

Thank you to Sahari, Laura, Sirena and Claudia for organizing a terrific day of workshops, performances and vendors.  I was honored to share my love of the veil with all of those amazing women and loved watching Najmat and Erzulie.

Tava's veil workshop at The Dragon's Egg, sponsored by NBDA

Thank you to Mark Balahadia for sharing your expertise with my students and I.  You went beyond technique, making it possible for us to “feel” Khaleeji in our hearts.  We now have a broader context and appreciation for this style of dance.

Restaurants, Theaters, and Homes. . .Oh MY!

Let’s face it, every performance situation requires a different set of skills. Bellydancers have to be engaging, beautiful, and funny, all while looking out for waiters carrying food or the random drunk audience member who could knock a dancer’s candles off her head. So what makes some gigs different from others? Here’s the breakdown:

So, you’ve got the restaurant shows which allow for a lot of interaction with people, but limited space for actual dancing. Then, there are the theater shows that require a dancer to step up her production value and dance for an audience that they oftentimes can’t even see. Private party shows come with a risk factor of not knowing what the dance conditions will really be like until the performer gets there. They can, however, be a lot of fun because you walk into a group of people who know each other already and they’re ready to party from the moment the dancer arrives. Every situation is different and, of course, there are similarities.

I love dancing in restaurants. To me, it is like a form of paid advertising since some of the diners may become my students or hire me for private events. This past week-end I performed at my favorite restaurant, Zitoune, and I squeezed in between tables doing shimmys and tiny undulations because it’s all I had room for. I didn’t care that I didn’t get to show my dance chops because there was a feeling in the room that I had helped to create and it was beyond rewarding. Everybody was smiling, clapping, and many got up to dance with me. What an absolute treat to share the dance in this way. I also had the pleasure of performing at The Mediterranean Grill, which had never had bellydancing. Thanks to some friends who came down (Adina, Hope, Sonia and my students Alissa, Zella and Sadiya), it took the remaining patrons no time at all to learn to enjoy the performance and feel comfortable participating.

This is like the complete opposite of dancing in a restaurant because, while the audience may clap, they are virtually anonymous. To entertain in this way involves creative costuming, sharp choreography and a theatrical quality to a performance. I have learned a lot from these experiences and am thankful to the people who have invited me to be a part of their productions. Currently, I am working with my mentor (Andrea Anwar), and my friend Amantha on a piece that involves a lot of darkness. Without giving too much away, the audience will not see my face. I realize, while I’m learning my mentor’s choreography, how much I rely on my face in my performance. I am out of my comfort zone but really enjoying the process. It’s a great feeling to take a major tool out of the toolbox and see what you can use in its place. This particular piece will be performed at The Theatrical Bellydance Conference on Friday July 9th, and is part of a spectacular lineup of dance artists.

Private Parties:
First and foremost, be safe! Many dancers, myself included, do not perform at any event that is a male-only audience. Know which questions to ask and listen to your intuition. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. That being said, I have danced on grassy hills, in basements, on huge estates, had dogs lick my feet while I was doing floorwork, a baby grab a handful of my fringe to “taste,” and I have balanced plenty of birthday cakes on my head. Stepping into an unfamiliar social microcosm has its up and downs but generally, the financial reward makes it all worthwhile. I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of some very special occasions for people and that is an honor. There have been beautiful weddings and family celebrations with people whom I’ve remained in contact with over the years. It just requires me to think on my feet and be prepared for whatever is in store for me.

As I look at my calendar for the next month and see performances that fall under each category, I remember that all of it makes me better. There will be opportunities to challenge myself and be inspired by my fellow dancers. I’m looking forward to all of it.

Beautiful Silk

Generally speaking, the relationship between a dancer and her veil changes over the years.  Maybe she can initially be content with the beaded polyester fabric that comes with the costume.  Then, there may be a graduation to a lighter weight silk blend.  Over time, she may develop a preference for 8 momme silk over 5 mm and have them custom dyed to match a costume.  Well, if this latter dancer wants a veil to suit her refined tastes, she needs to order from Shaula of www.SilkDancer.com.

Two of my recent costume purchases included small amounts of brown.  One is primarily sea green, and the other a pink-ish snake-skin with brown accents.  The stones in the snake-skin costume reflect high amounts of teal which got me thinking about the ideal color combination that would perfectly highlight both costumes.  Since no such veil existed, I contacted Shaula.  I asked for a rectangular veil that was primarily brown with teal/sea green accents in the style of her “midnight magic” veil.  She agreed and when it was completed, here was the response I received from her:

Dear Tava,

Since you had mentioned both sea-foam green and teal, where the brown ends, I mixed a light sea-foam to a teal. I custom blended a rich brown to compliment the cool colors. Where the brown and sea-foam colors meet, there are many “fingers” reaching into each color just as on the Midnight Magic veil. . . I tried to use my impressions of you while working on the proportions and blending of the colors. For lack of a better word, I try very hard to make each custom piece really “fit” the personality of the dancer.

I was beyond anxious to try it out after reading all the time and care that went into its creation.  The day it arrived, my dog knocked over the garbage and made “garbage confetti” which took all night to clean.   Delayed gratification, I suppose.  I brought it to class the next day where I taught a choreography to Miserlou.  The veil “sang” perfectly.  There was no bulky hem to weigh it down and the colors were truly vivid.  Furthermore, because of the steaming process that silkdancer uses, it is safe to dry clean the veil if necessary.   I performed with it at Grisly Pear this past Sunday to the song Gezloren which Scott Wilson sang so beautifully.  Between the floating silk and the music, it was one of those “pinch me” moments full of gratitude and appreciation for being able to dance.  I believe there were cameras snapping photos  during the show so when I track one down, I will post to this blog.  In the meantime, for more about Silkdancer, visit the website: www.silkdancer.com.  Happy silk = happy dancer.