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?


Naima said...

I have always just said that us bellydancers are
"crazy" (tongue-in-cheek of course).
Having insecurities is definately a more scholarly way to put it.
But I agree with you. Dancers are always being judged by someone, both good and bad. It is a great challenge to overcome the feeling of insecurity that you get during/after some performances.

kara :0 said...

Good or bad, people are going to judge not just a dancer as a performer but when all the makeup & costumes are off as a person in ordinary life. It is a natural instinct for people to judge each other. As a performer you put yourself in a situation for others to judge you, which in turn puts more pressure & can cause more insecurities. Whether just a hobby or a profession, the insecurities, critiques & emotion and physical strains are more than worth it to be bellydancing!!!!!!!

For the record---Daniela, accept it as a compliment---you are an amazing bellydancer!!!!!!

Amy said...

Hmm, I wouldn't say that we are naturally insecure due to being dancers, but that the dance scene can make you insecure. From one side is the (totally ridiculous) cattiness that can come out of competition; sometimes that whisper you see is "Wow, I wish I could do that!" and sometimes it's "Whoa, what is the h@!! is she doing?".

On the other side is the fact that there can be a lack of constructive criticism and honesty in the belly dance world. I think too many people praise dancers because they are friends or to be nice, when what we all need are positive evaluations about our dancing (that is, even when we do something that is not good it is pointed out in a way that can bring about positive action). Hearing too much, "You were SO GREAT" but never "Your energy was amazing, but next time try to smile more so we know you're having fun" or "I admire you trying out a new style but I didn't feel it was your strongest performance, maybe x, y, or z would help?" can make you wonder: Am I any good at this? Or do I really stink and no one will tell me? And then it's insecurity all over the place.

Anonymous said...

Good Times with Mr. C! He was a diamond and he would be happy to admit "off his rocker".

Yes, as humans we can be insecure, but as artists - definitely! Our project, our work is our performance. How can we feel any other way??? But, be confident in what you have to offer, it is like no other! xox Julie