THERE IS AN ELEPHANT ON THE DANCE FLOOR!
International Performing Artist, Instructor & Choreographer
There is an elephant on the dance floor!! And I know it has your attention.
Please enjoy my perspectives on change and learning to navigating the territory between staying “relevant” and staying “true”.
The 21 century, for better or worse, is here to stay. Or should I say “it’s here to change”!
Changing World of Bellydance
Keeping up with the rate of change is almost a full time job! And keeping up with the pace it has set is even more challenging. Everything is happening so fast and it is easy to feel like we are always at risk of missing an opportunity. The digital age has permeated every aspect of modern life. Like most things there are pros and cons to the new way of the world.
Much of the change and “progress”, especially technological, has been pretty cool and exciting to me. It has allowed for so much growth and opportunity in our industry. But there is a dark side, “magic comes with a price”. I always try to stay open to the positives and work through my unease when change takes me out of my comfort zone but it is not easy. I find it to be even more difficult in the realm of my dancing, both professionally and personally. Social media trends challenge many of my deepest feelings, beliefs and rituals around my dance practice.
I believe in hard work. I believe it was the years I spent perfecting my craft in private that earned me my praise in public. I believe that what I put my heart into artistically, as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Time is imperative for creative people. I have often said and felt that time is my muse. Along the artistic journey we need time: time to grow, time to marinate on ideas, time to align with our center, time to develop a voice, time to step away and come back with a new fresh perspective. That is why I LOVE writing my newsletters. It takes days. It offers me time to process my thoughts and feelings. What an invaluable gift!
The vanity and self-obsession of the “instant gratification” culture has left no room for this process! It has taken the personal joy and fulfulment out of doing something for oneself and has put all motivation in doing something for the superficial reaction of others attention and approval.
The sacred beauty and diversity of this dance is being replaced more and more by extreme narcissism! Please don’t get me wrong. Social media has many great benefits and I continue to enjoy them myself but there are very unhealthy behaviors taking place that are almost vile! Robbing new dancers from discovering the spirit of the dance and leaving many of us wondering where it has gone? I know I am not alone in my concerns. It has been coming up a lot lately on the professional circuit and among my students. We all want to know how we fit into this perverse selfy circus since it seems to be the new norm and standard for promoting oneself in many industries including ours.
Social media has also brought shaming to a whole new level of cowardice!
Like any of us needs the help of a pathetic, faceless troll on the internet to let us know how far from the unrealistic standard of beauty we are!
Here are just a few of the things I do:
- Stay connected to nature!
- Nurture real life relationships in real time face to face or voice to voice. Calling my grandma every Monday for an hour is one of the highlights of my week.
- Use social media as a tool for change! How can you empower others through your content instead of perpetuating unhealthy standards or negativity?
- Be playful but mindful. Share video clips of yourself and other dancers who inspire you and emulate the beauty and diversity in the dance!
- Design your newsfeed. Get rid of everything that doesn’t serve and empower you.
- Dare to be original! Sit alone with your creativity and the music and trust what comes out. No imitating or borrowing moves. Be organic in your movement! You have so much more potential than you know!
- Be creative! Just because everyone else is posting selfie pics and videos every dang day doesn’t mean you should. Take the time to create something beautiful worth watching over and over even years from now. Limit “instant gratification” content. Think quality over quantity. If you are constantly posting free, low quality content of yourself you devalue its power and effect. Big corporations have studied “free content” and guess what? Giving yourself away online is not in your best business interest. Every smart dancer I know who runs a successful business is completely against this free daily content trend.
- Approach all social media engagement as an experiment. Some things may generate buzz and most will not. Don’t be totally against posting content, just do it in your style! People are attracted to things online the same way they are in the real world. By unique, original concepts and ideas. We’ve seen enough twerk bellydance videos and duck lip selfies. Start a new trend.
- Get off social media and get dancing!!! Truly experience the thing you fell in love with in the first place!! And don’t always feel the need to broadcast it to the world. Just do it for yourself and enjoy the moment.
- If you do suffer from narcissistic tendencies, counter it with some humility. Do something kind for others without compensation or expectation. Make an anonymous donation. And please do not post a selfie of you doing so!
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