Friday, May 29, 2009

Career Stability/Longevity

I posted this on a few days ago, but I'd like to get feedback here as well....

First, a little backstory to explain what got me thinking about all this - A few months ago I found out I had a basal cell carcinoma on the tip of my nose...long story short, I had Mohs surgery to remove it three weeks ago, and it turned out to be a lot worse than anyone thought. They actually had to remove some of the cartilage in the tip of my nose because it went down that far (on the surface, it only looked like a teeny tiny little red spot that wouldn't go away). Anyway, the plastic surgeon did a skin graft from another part of my nose to cover the hole, and the healing process is now shaping up to be longer than I had originally anticipated.

Obviously, while this is all going on, i can't gig. No one wants a bellydancer with a bandaged, oozing nose. I'm not even sure how long I'll be out of commission - I had originally budgeted for no gigs the month of May, but that is when I thought I'd only have a few stitches. I figure I am looking at about two months of gigs lost when all is said and done.

So, in the meantime, I've been teaching. Thank GOD I have a day job, because if I had this sort of injury and BD was my only source of income, I'd be in serious doo-doo right now.

Which leads me to my question/thought of the day....we can't always gig. We can't always be the sexy, pretty, mysterious bellydancer that our clients want/expect us to be. Whether it is because we get older, or we get injured, or become pregnant or something else that affects our appearance.... I think that the amount of time in our lives where we can go out there and be the pro bellydance performer is so short compared to the times we cannot.

In my experience, in the times where I can't get out there and perform, I can still get out there and teach. Because you don't need to "look the part" to teach - you just need to know what you are doing. And that doesn't change despite of what you look like. So, if you really want to be a dancer, make a living off of it (or a substantial part of your income, anyway), do you need to be a teacher as well? I have friends who are amazing dancers, but who just don't like teaching, or don't think they are very good at it so they don't do it. Are they destined for a short dance career?

Is teaching the only way we as dancers can insure that we will be around for the long hall? Those who can't do, teach, right?

What do you think? And don't forget to wear sunscreen!!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

How well should you know your music?

In a workshop I attended, Nourhan Sharif said you should listen to a piece of music so much that you are sick of it, and only then are you ready to dance to it. Her point being that you need to know your music well to be able to do it justice with a live, improv performance.

I understand what she is saying but I also see it slightly differently - I have basically the same set that I use for all my basic gigs (birthdays, retirement parties, weddings, etc). Pretty much the same songs, in the same order, unless there is a special request or other reason that I would change things up. Lately, I have been feeling, well, uninspired when I dance to those songs. Kind of like "Ho hum, shimmy, shimmy, pop, turn, turn, turn.....same old, same old" I know them SO well, that they don't get me excited any more - you know, the feeling you get when you hear a song you LOVE and you just need to get up and dance to it right away!

I have found that, lately, my exciting (to me) shows - the ones where I finish feeling like I rocked - are the ones where I am using different music. Maybe a song I don't know very well, because I've only heard it a few times. So it's new to me. Yes, I am probably missing some accents I could be using, or getting slightly off-beat when there is a change in the music that I didn't realize was coming. But I am having more fun, and I feel like it shows. And I think that is pretty darn important.

What do you think? Do you listen to your songs until you hear them in your sleep? Or do you like to change it up frequently?