Thursday, December 22, 2011

Kindness and Compensation

Standing in cockle burs in front of the "Warehouse"

In 2011, Everyone in my local dance community really made a bigger effort to support each other regardless of studio or troupe affiliation. Studios began hosting teachers from other studios within the community and there were more classes/events offered in which all types of dancers participated in together. While not perfect, I believe this past year has been one of the most productive for our local dance community. There have been more opportunities to learn and share than there has been here in the past decade. I am very proud to see the progress that has been made and to see that our local dance culture is actually moving toward living up to the idea of artistic integrity, openness, and diversity. I know there have been some bumps along the way, disagreements and hurt feelings, but I feel a much greater sense of pride in my fellow dancers with their efforts to bring the community together and keep it moving forward than I have before.

My participation in every dance event this year (except maybe 1,) was made possible by the dance community willing to trade services with me. I traded my sewing skills, substituted some classes, taught some privates, and traded a hoop for some hair clips. I even got to take 6 weeks of East Coast Swing classes by trading services. I have enjoyed this year of dance the most out of any in the past because each class I took and each event I was able to attend had more meaning and value to me then any other I have ever thrown money at.

In the past, the dance has always been about my own personal dance journey, my own growth as a dancer, my growth as a person, my own expression and experiences. I have often referred to my dance experiences as being in Switzerland, a neutral autonomous experience. Now I see that I have been treating dance like a piece of meat thrown into the middle of a pack of dogs. I growl and bite to grab my piece and then hide away in the corner with my back turned so no one can steal it away. There doesn’t have to be lines drawn in the sand with, “I don’t dance that style so I’m not going,” or “I don’t have the money for that.” The dance is so much more rewarding when you can share it, trade it, participate in it, enjoy it. I have thought a lot about the kindness I have received and witnessed from my fellow dancers and for 2012 I intend on doing community service. Bellydance Community Service. I hope to take my skills and my time and give them to the Bellydance community as a whole, not just focus on one studio, class, or style of dance.

To begin I plan on tackling a personal pet peeve of mine. Costume cover-ups. I get irritated when I see a dancer without a cover up or only a veil wrapped toga style around themselves before/after a performance. I know some dancers don't have cover-ups for various reasons, mostly money. So instead of just being peeved I intend to offer my time and my serger to any dancer who wants a cover up. I will go to any studio and make simple kaftan/muu muu style cover ups for any dancer while they are in class. Dancers can bring 3yd of fabric and some sort of trade item for "payment." I will accept anything they would like to give in trade. (extra sewing supplies, a few bucks for a cone of thread, chocolate, coffee, loose beads or sequins, a book to read, old music, etc.)*

I have been dreaming about collecting loose beads and sequins from as many dancers as possible and make a "junk drawer" costume inspired by a costume Sa'dia gave me to alter for her. I think it would be fantastic to be able to create and wear a costume that represents other dancers in some way. A costume that represents the dancers in the dance journey with me. Just before Christmas, Jemina gave me 2 big trays full of beads, sequins, coins, and fabric, some of which belonged to her grandmother, the late Gita, (the first bellydancer I ever saw in person.) I took that as a sign to make my idea a reality.

I hope that by supporting my Bellydance community, the Bellydance community will continue to support me and that support will extend to other dancers out there. I sincerely hope everyone has had a wonderful year and I look forward to what the new year will bring.


*I intend on making an event page for this starting in January.


MissBeeBellydancer said...


Kis said...

Trade is such an undervalued version of payment. It's good that you've gotten into it and are profiting from it so well.

You've reminded me that I need to make my cover-up. It's been in the back of my mind for a while so I should stop procrastinating and just do it.

Anonymous said...

nice---good ideas!!

for some reason it's not acknowledging my live journal status

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

You should really watch this!

Kanela said...

Beautifully said! -- I can relate to both the challenges and successes you wrote about.

Jamie said...

I wish you had lived in my community. It would have been great to have a local belly dancer like you that people can come to for trade, costume advice, even someone who cares enough to make costume cover-ups. I hope that you would post your "junk drawer" costume soon once it's done.

Naima said...

@Jamie, you should step up and become that person in your community! You don't have to have a lot or know a lot. Just do what you can when you can for others.

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