The Life of a Ladybug

live with intention. walk to the edge. listen hard. practice wellness. play with abandon. laugh. choose with no regret. continue to learn. appreciate your friends. do what you love. live as if this is all there is. -mary anne radmacher

Friday, March 31, 2006

The Culture of Competition

I've met some really cool people since I've started with my bellydance journey. I really enjoy the contacts I've made. I've found that, by and large, the women I have met in the Baltimore/Washington bellydance community have been nice to me and seemed to welcome me into their ranks. However, I am not naive. I do know that all of this kindness was extended to me as a student. That's what I am. I am not a professional, therefore, no one has anything to fear from me. I go to as many workshops as I can. I like to attend as many events as I can, to support our local dancers. I dance solo in (the very) occasional hafla (though I do intend to put myself out there more often to boost my confidence in being a solo artist). I dance with my troupe, Kallisti Tribal, a little more often ("Representing the tribal in B'More - Woot!!!"). But I am not dancing in restaurants or weddings, doing private parties or bellygrams. I am not taking money from anyone's pockets and am not a threat to anyone's dance career. It's much easier to be welcoming to one who is not in competition with you. A while ago, I thought I had made a bellydance friend, through various classes and whatnot. It was nice. Not too long ago, I danced in a poetry event put on to celebrate Black History Month. I was the only dancer and was offered the opportunity because I am a member of the Black History Month committee. I was honored that the committee would extend such an opportunity. My dance went well and I got really good feedback. As a result, an audience member requested me to dance at an upcoming health fair - not as a workshop instructor or anything (I let her know that I am in no way qualified to teach), but as a demonstration of the kinds of things women can do to celebrate their bodies and destress. I'm really happy that she was impressed enough with my performance to request me. Once again, this is not a dance show, so there is no line-up. Just me, showing how I use dance to celebrate my womanhood - no more, no less. I am happy about it (though I'm still irked that they asked me if I'll be "appropriately dressed", but I digress). I was asked about it by my dance friend. Instead of being happy about my progress and opportunity, she seemed irked. And then she followed up with a phone call and asked if it was "just me" who got this opportunity to dance or if "the show needed other people." I let her know that it isn't a show - it's a health fair and, as far as I know, I'm the only performer and my piece will only last five minutes or so. Again, she seemed miffed and wondered aloud how I came upon this gig. Not a gig, I reminded her, as I'm not being paid, and the woman requested me after seeing me dance. We went back and forth for a while, my voice getting testier and testier because, at this point, I was getting pissed. Finally, she asked me to tell the organizer of the fair that, should they need other performers, she would be available. At that point, I said my good-byes and hung up. Look, I understand that we all want what we can get from this dance. We're all looking for more opportunities to perform and grow. But don't get your panties in a twist because I was offered a showcase that you weren't. I'm not a professional - you are! There is no need whatsoever for you to be threatened by me. And if you are - take a good look at yourself. Perhaps you aren't as secure in your skill as you think you are.


At April 03, 2006 10:33 AM, Blogger sparkles anonymous! said...


Welcome to the world of pro dancing, honey.

Dancers can be - and often ARE - cutthroat. Treasure your real friendships, because they are invaluable -- and you'll be so happy you have those friends to turn to on days like the one you just had.

I've had it all happen to me -- a dance friend stopped talking to me when I started gigging more than her; another dancer spread a rumor with restaurant owners and musicians that I was a thief, etc. etc. It sucks, but at the end of the day, you WILL know who your real friends are.

Many hugs,


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