Thoughts about our Dance Education...
The end of August was on fire! There’s an immense amount of energy when it comes to attending Belly Dance conventions. If you’re there all weekend – you know what I’m talking about! The Belly Motions team and students had the opportunity to perform for the Friday night gala and experience a unique environment different from our regular studio classes and annual theater show. Among the many that Miami’s community offers, this one, the Miami Belly Dance Convention, is one of the larger ones. Nathalie, Director, brings international and local artists to teach and perform, while the students get to suck the life out of the classes and gala shows. Conventions are the norm these days, and our chance for continued education. Twelve years ago when I started, besides traveling to Egypt for the big festivals, it was only about the small studios or the teachers we learned with on an individual basis.
Our “belly dance university” is spread over the course of our careers. I come from a background where the study of history is as vital as air. Before we begin our professional careers or our enthusiast careers, there should be a foundation of historical knowledge and great respect. On the more lenient side of town, I also come from a creative and artistic background where the freedom of expression is how we grow and learn about ourselves and the world around us. I believe in mentors and preparation for any sort of presentation we may do. I believe in balance and awareness and not cheating our way through.
Every convention that I attend there’s the good and the bad. Unfortunately there’s an over saturation of the uneducated that perform, hiding behind the makeup and the glam of the costumes. Everyone has their own walks of life, so it can be difficult to judge. From a professional’s point of view, if one’s performing there should be full awareness of the music, its rhythms and movements in respect to the rhythms, and lyrics if there are lyrics. Technique can be last in line of importance. For example – in the professional’s category of competition to live music, I could not believe how many of the dancers entered pre-maturely to the music!! It shocked me at how soon they came on stage and in addition started by facing away from the audience. Education about the art form is number one as well as where we put our hearts. There’s a great deal involved, and one can only hope they’re being guided.
These moments can bring me sadness and they can bring me inspiration. It’s important to remember that it’s not about the glam, it’s not about the vanity, it’s not about the style or the dancer you’re trying to emanate. It is about social and community growth and how you can learn more about yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask questions; don’t be afraid to be open to learning and taking your time to learn. All that we do let’s do it with open eyes and hearts before we act upon presenting our art form on or off stage. There are many things that can be right and many that are neither wrong nor right. It’s like having a conversation with someone – we may not have the full view of where that other person is coming from, or where or how they learned. Perceive but do not judge and ask lots of questions.
And remember – great things come with time. The truth is that the process is long and we arrive at our destinations by enjoying it all, never by rushing. Breathe with the process and one day you will reach your goal. Many times that takes years. That should not be scary and it should not worry you; it should feel exciting and thrilling even in our darkest moments.
Thank you for reading! Feel free to leave comments.
A couple of performances from the 2016 Miami Belly Dance Convention.