Thursday, January 31, 2008

Dancer insecurities

A wise old ballet teacher once told me "Dancers are the most insecure people of them all." Mr. Christopher firmly believed that all dancers were insecure - it was in our nature. Which was why he would start pounding his cane into the ground and yell at you if he caught you so much as whisper one word to the person next to you while someone else was dancing - he said that if a dancer sees someone else talking while she is dancing, she automatically thinks that they are talking about her. And not in a good way.

I always thought Mr. Christopher was a little off his rocker in most respects, but this point stuck with me. I think that we dancers are insecure, and I think it is because of the nature of our profession (or hobby) - that we constantly put our whole selves - our bodies, our emotions, everything - out there for the world to enjoy, or critique. How can we not become insecure? What if the world doesn't like our dance - since our dance is really who we are, does that mean they don't like us??

I recently danced at a private party in the back section of a restaurant that had a house bellydancer, who was going on right after my show. The dancer was from Greece (just arrived in America, actually), so in my born-and-raised-America eyes, she was the real deal. The singer for the restuarant was also there, and she was from Greece as well. After my show, both ladies were complimenting me and asking me questions about my dance - how long had I been dancing, who did I study with, etc. To anyone else, their questions would have seemed like genuine admiration - they really liked my show. But to me, the insecure dancer, their questions seemed insincere - like they thought I was crap and they were mocking me. Was that the case? I don't think so, I think they really did like the show - but there's always the nagging thought in the back of my head that I'm not really as good as I hope I am. Am I that insecure that I can't recognize and accept a compliment when I get one?

Do other dancers feel this way? Was Mr. Christopher right? Are we all insecure? Or is there a way to overcome the insecurities?

Ballet for Bellydancers

Sounds like fun, huh? Actually, it was! Last week, I hosted a Ballet for Bellydancers workshop, taught by Jennifer Alvarado, the owner and director of Queens Dance Project.

The workshop was a ballet class, but instead of focusing on pirouettes and tour jete's, Jen focused on the skills that we, as bellydancers, need to know.

I've taken ballet since I was a little girl, and it's been drilled into my head by dance teacher after dance teacher that "ballet is the foundation of all dance." While that might be a very grand statement to make, now that I am a bellydancer - practicing a form of dance that seems to be the farthest thing away from bellydance - I see how true that statement really is.

Ballet teaches strength, but it also teaches grace. It teaches proper posture, and proper arms and hands. It teaches you how to be aware of your body, so that you can become a better dancer. And shouldn't everybody know how to do that?!

Were you at the Ballet for Bellydancers workshop? Share your thoughts! And even if you weren't - what do you think about the connection between ballet and bellydance?