Dreaming darkly for real: A dancer's remembrance of Christopher Lee

I'm a writer whose work includes horror and gothic poetry, fiction, and prose, as well as news journalism and arts and entertainment coverage. I am not a writer or a journalist simply because I say I am - they are what I do. I also sustain myself by writing professionally. I am not a "famous" author, but I am an established one, with peer-reviewed credits in a variety of publications, in print and online. Fame in the conventional sense may come, or not, but I will be writing as long as I am physically and mentally able.

There is the dream of writing, and there is the fantasy. To me, the dream is already real as long as I keep making it so.

In a similar way, I am an Oriental dancer, again, not because I bought a costume and decided to tell people that I am. I am because I work at it - practicing, performing, and sharing my dance in many ways and in many venues, including producing events that bring dance and literature together. This includes the "Edgar Allan Poe Show" and its upcoming fourth incarnation, and "Dance of the Beloved", a collaboration with my late husband, the writer and devoted Middle-Eastern dance fan, Lawrence Carradini.

Again, my life in dance is not a fantasy, but a dream, a dream that many of us share and make real in our passion and dedication, and sometimes in disappointment, but often in the joy of doing something we love to do.

I've been thinking about all this since the actor Christopher Lee's passing on June 7 at age 93, and reading the accolades and tributes, including many from my friends in the Middle-Eastern dance community. I've been a fan of Christopher Lee since an early age -  age 10, to be precise - seeing him in one of his signature roles as Dracula. In this role, and in many others since then, he spoke to something in me - with poetic darkness, sensuality, and danger, and battles between good and evil.

All enticingly agreeable in an artist's landscape.

Since then, Christopher Lee's long, diverse performance resume has shown something to which I think many of us as performers can relate - the desire to create, and to forge a bond with a caring audience. Much like his films, those creations won't be all things to all people. But if they come from something honest that their creator can stand by, they can seal that bond with fire.

So, whether looking back to the haunting "Scott of the Antarctic" (1948) in which Lee had only a supporting role, to my forever favorite Hammer's "Dracula", to "Count Dooku" and beyond, I think about this: Not only what a magnetically handsome and commanding presence (yeah, that, without qualification or apology), but how important it is to keep working, keep creating, keep reaching for the things that inspire, not always with immediate rewards or appreciation, but with belief, hard work, and again, more hard work. Have a presence. Be a presence.

And always toward making something real from a dream. And that's no fantasy.

Morgana Mirage is the associate editor for Belly Dance New England.