Bellyography: Mary (Miraj) – November 2007

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In all pantheons, there is usually a representation of the nurturing, caring mother figure that oversees the well-being of the community. Perhaps it is her name, Mary, but this, in a nutshell, is the essence of the beautiful woman that dances with Kashmir Dance Company. I have long admired her as a person and wanted to know her a bit better. “I am literally the white girl with no rhythm,” Mary told me. “ I sat on the sidelines for years watching my daughter, Becky, before I had the nerve to join in.”

Born and raised in Salt Lake City, Mary is the daughter of a father who wanted sons and was raised on football, baseball and boy stuff. She married her high school sweetheart, has two children, a boy and a girl, and has had a successful career in the male dominated world of construction.

In Mary’s own words, “I have no girly training. I mean, I work in construction! I have no dance background at all. One day, Corrie Walker, director of Kashmir, told me to ‘get off my butt, get on a skirt and come dance.’ Up until then, I had been the mother hen, doing makeup, taking photos, and fixing costumes.”

Dancing with Kashmir for five years, Mary explains, “I love the tribal atmosphere. We are all sisters. Our sisterhood is so amazing. We are all deeply connected, and it is a joy to dance with my daughter, Becky. I owe my dance career to her.”

When I asked Mary about her dance training she told me, “I studied with Raffa’s entry level performing group for a few years. He is a marvelous human being, and he is the one who taught me to walk like a girl. Raffa and Aziz have been very influential in my dancing and in how to live my life. Because of Kashmir, I have had opportunities to learn from fabulous teachers, such as Carolena of Fat Chance, Corrie Walker, Amina, and Rachel Brice. Today I am certified in American Tribal Style dance, and all because of Corrie and Kashmir. I have been so lucky.”

I am quite sure that Mary has no idea how truly lovely she is. I have watched her dancing and stage presence transform and progress over the years. She is an outstanding member of Kashmir Dance Company and just a wonderful person. In all my conversations with her, I have never heard her say an unkind word about anyone. She dances from her heart and soul, and, as always, that translates easily to an audience. It is impossible to hide the truth of your soul when you are dancing because it is the language of the spirit.

If you want to see Mary perform, Kashmir Dance Company will be performing in the fundraising event, Dancing for Darfur on November 17 and on Dec.,1, at the Shazadi Soiree in Logan.