Wednesday, July 27, 2011

When is it lying?

In a dancer's bio, she often lists the teachers she has studied under in the past, particularly if they are "big names," to give others a sense of what style she is, how much knowledge she has, and how much time she has put into her bellydance education.  Of course, the general public, reading a bio, will not know (or likely care) who the dancer has studied with, but other dancers will.  And the general public will like to see that a dancer has a broad dance background, even if they don't have any clue who the particular teachers are.

But my question is this - when does a teacher "qualify" to be listed on a dancer's bio? In other words, how long/often do you need to take classes or private lessons with a teacher before you can put them in your bio as someone you've "studied under"? 

In my own bio,  I only list two teachers by name, because those are the only two teachers who I have spent a significant amount of time with.  I studied with my first teacher, Amira Mor, for two years.  I danced in her company, I was in her DVDs, and she was basically my first and only intro to bellydance for quite a while.  I studied with my second teacher, Alyne, for much less time, but her impact on my dance and my style is just a great, if not more so, than Amira's.  I was with Alyne for three months, while living in California with my boyfriend/now husband.  I attended classes twice a week and had several private lessons with her. 

I consider these two women my "teachers," worthy of being in my bio as dancers who have trained me and shaped the way I dance.  I've taken lots of workshops over the years, with "big name" dancers like Suhaila, Fathiem, Jillina, Nourhan Sharif, and of course Aradia, whom I host in NYC every year.  But I wouldn't include any of these dancers in my bio, because I haven't actually "studied" under them - in my opinion, one or even two, workshops does NOT equal "studying under."  If the teacher doesn't even know your name, doesn't know your individual needs as a student and doesn't help you on an individual basis, you haven't studied under them.  (Hmm....since I will now be hosting Aradia for the third time this September, maybe she does qualify as someone I've studied under at this point.  I'll have to think about that one!).

That's just my personal opinion.  BUT.....I've seen loads of bios where dancers list basically every "big name" bellydancer as someone they've studied under.  It's clear to other dancers that these dancers have only taken a workshop or two, at most, from these dancers, because it would be impossible to meaningfully study under all of them.  But that's how it's portrayed in the bio; there are no disclaimers given.  I've seen this happen in varying degrees - people who list loads of dancers, as well as people who will list only one or two dancers, but I personally know that those dancers were just in town for one workshop, and that's the "training" that the bio references.

I think it's false advertising to list dancers in your bio unless you have really, meaningfully studied under them. OR, unless you clearly state that your exposure to that dancer was a one-off workshop.  Again, I'm not sure how much impact this all has on the general public, so maybe it doesn't really matter.  But I think it all goes back to professionalism, which relates directly to truth in advertising.  You don't want to create hype around yourself that you can't live up to! 

What do you think?