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!!


Anonymous said...

I hope your healing process is going well. I read your situation on Bhuz a while back.

Anonymous said...

It really is all a risk in the end. The way things are now, it doesn't feel like much is stable.

I think teaching will ensure more stability, though. When thinking at the mega star level, very few of them, if any, can just be flown in to perform. It does seem like everyone teaches.

I'd say that establishing a non-performance based career will greatly go to make sure you're still involved in dance for years to come. Coaching, writing articles, producing shows/festivals, teaching, etc. are all really useful

shirel said...

well i hope you are on your way to a full recovery!!
as for those who can't do, teach---performing and teaching are 2 different skills so it's possible to do both if you are still marketable. i went throught 2 pregnancies and taught through both, performed right after both- each time learning how hard it is to stay marketable. there is always someone younger, firmer, prettier, better than you.
we can't always be in high demand as peformers- botox can only do so much :) teaching doesn't always pay the bills either. i believe in constantly creating though- like Noora from Decotach- she performs once in a while, teaches, and creates amazing costumes. she is a person i look to as a model to do what you love as you grow