The hardest lessons I learned as a belly dancer in Orlando the last 7 years are some that I personally feel would greatly benefit others out there too. Here they are, learn from my mistakes and the mistakes of others. No one is perfect, but we can each always learn something new to better the community.
1. Keep your negative opinions to yourself!
I am baffled at shows where some dancers will express OUT LOUD and surrounded by sponsors, colleagues, teachers, and family members, their full negative opinion of a dancer as she/he is up on stage performing.
Have a negative opinion? Keep it to yourself. It makes you look “bitchy” the majority of times, and while you may very well have merit in the critique, either a) let loose with a trusted loved one at home where no one else can hear or b) if the person ASKS you for your honest and subjective feedback, THEN give it to them respectfully. That’s it. Be professional.
2) Grabbing attention with stillness and stopping in place is still high energy
It was not until recently that I began to grasp this concept. I always felt that if I was not doing a ton of isolation’s and jumps and spins and kicks that I would lose the audience, but I was wrong. Truly enjoying the stillness or extension of a movement with expression can be just as, if not MORE powerful than dancing fast all the time.
The audience gets the opportunity to view you as a piece of art, and feel a deep connection with you. Take the time now to really savor the extensions, releases, and drama that comes from stillness and flow.
3) Take Risks The Right Way
Many of us are hungry to get better known, “make it” and be respected amongst our peers but I have witnessed several accounts now where a dancer or two played dumb and took things too far. Take risks when an opportunity arises but always respect the people involved and who got you there.
Do not send a picture to an artist for an album cover and not ask permission or pay the photographer their deserved license fee. Do not steal a gig from another dancer because you got flirty and hot to trot with the owner. Do not forget to credit and thank your instructor, friend, or organizer for the opportunity they sent your way.
4) Do what makes YOU happy, not what everyone expects to make you happy
I made this mistake a few times and FINALLY woke up and said F$%# it. I am going to do what makes ME happy as an artist, and not what someone imagines that I should be.
If you love Egyptian belly dance and are expected to dance fusion which you might not love, then you don’t have to. If you are fusion and you are expected to dance like an American cab dancer, you do not have to! Dance the way that brings joy into your heart and that you know you can rock with.
I remember going to an Am Cab event and feeling like I had to prove that I was super oriental to a group and ended up doing a routine that was totally NOT ME. I did not feel like me, and ultimately I should have done what I wanted and not what was “expected”. Do what YOU love.
Let me know your thoughts to my “4 Hard Lessons I learned as a Belly Dancer in Orlando” blog below.