I have resisted writing this blog, I tried, I really did, but I think it is no secret that many a dancer and judge has seen at least once in their time, a competition where a professional level dancer was competing in the rising star category and of course won. This is a severe disappointment in my book.
When an event organizer creates the guidelines and criteria of who should compete in what category, things such as length of time dancing, whether or not they dance for pay, and other factors come to mind. The intentions are great, I am happy these are everywhere, but there are a couple of issues we need to address:
1. Those who have belly danced for 4 yrs. or less can compete in rising star
How can you truly know if the dancer is saying the truth? Is it 4 years continuous training or the value of 4 years spread across 8 years? This is the issue, and I hope to see these specified more in guidelines.
I firmly believe competition organizers (who have no influence at all on judging panel) should begin to request video entries for those interested in competing. A video will clearly demonstrate if the dancer is in fact in the right category. If the video is of a professional caliber and they only put down 2 years of dancing and are planning to compete in rising star, I’m sorry but there is something off there. She/he may be lying and want an easy win in the rising star category (it happens often).
The performer should compete in the category based on their level, as years are an indication yes, but not everyone is so honest when filling out their forms.
2. Those who do NOT earn a wage from dancing can compete in rising star:
I see the logic behind this but there needs to be an addendum. We see too many girls working at restaurants who are beginners and simply work for the money and to play dress up and feel beautiful. Then I see girls who do not work in restaurants at all and are professional level dancers. So then, does that make them not a professional because they do not need to earn money off belly dance?
I agree, a beginner-intermediate (rising star) should not be too quick to work in belly dance until they have more knowledge and experience, but how do we measure this? In one of the recent competitions I attended a beautiful girl who CLEARLY dances at a SUPER HIGH LEVEL, has a pricey professional costume, and clearly is a professional in her dance, competed in rising star because she does not depend on belly dance for income. Guess what, of course she won when compared to the rest of the girls who truly were rising star level!
This is not fair to the other girls, and a simple video entry beforehand would have placed her in the professional category. Did the girl dance beautifully, yes, according to the guidelines was she in the right category, yes, but I am beyond unhappy with her winning because she was a) she gets the money, tiara, and crown for something that was not challenging for her what so ever, b) the guidelines were too easy c) why is this not being talked about?
I really hope this simple blog gets shared and passed along, because this is so easy to fix. Please ask for video entries or a YouTube vid, confirm that they do in fact fit into the category they applied for (all it takes is 30 seconds to know where a dancer lies level wise with a trained eye), and let’s get professionals competing with professionals and rising stars competing with rising stars please. To read more about my belly dance competition advice read here, or to learn about my competition coaching program and get a true assessment on where you are, please click on my bellydance competition coaching page. Thank you!