I've avoided this blog for a while, I got a little upset after my last posts and I think I may have taken my readers comments a little too personally. I think that this is a common reaction however, as bellydance is such a personal thing for so many people. For a lot of us, it has been a long process of personal development, and along the way we fight many stereotypes. It becomes who we are, and any question of this art form can leave us deeply affected and personally affronted.
Moving on! Much has happened since my last post! Monique and I (aka Cabaret Serpentine) have put on two sold-out shows in Halifax, and this has been an incredibly uplifting and inspiring experience for me.
I learned a lot putting together these shows. After dancing for strangers all year, including some very cynical crowds (and some great ones too!) it is SO wonderful to come home to a huge crowd of friends and family who have not seen professional bellydance regularly. The crowds were amazing. Loud, supportive, hugely appreciative. I don't think I've ever gotten that kind of response to a solo before (our show in September) the crowd was so excited and loud that I really choked up at the end of my number. It was amazing.
In Halifax there is a pretty big bellydance scene, for the size of the city. Off the top of my head I can think of 4 professional teachers and a bunch more that teach here and there. Competition is fierce as the population is limited! Shows tend to be limited to Fringe Festival performances (which are great), student recitals and the occasional appearance at events and festivals. There are now two restaurants which have dancers every week. There are some great dancers in Halifax, but (as with everywhere) there are also some people who call themselves bellydancer's (aka gyrators) who do not have an appreciation for the complexity and artistic subtleties of the dance. I am 100% for students getting experience performing, but there is a time and place for this...student recitals. If these people bill themselves as professionals, the general public sees them and thinks, "Oh, so this is bellydancing", and leaves thinking that it is not a very refined or technically skilled sort of dance. Worst case scenario is they see someone who thinks of bellydance as this super-sexy thing, and they wear something trashy and dance in a disturbingly seductive way. Sigh.
Monique and I really wanted to show the public what professional dancers can do, and do it in a great atmosphere. It was also important to us to pay our dancers like the pros they are! We were thrilled each time with the calibre and creativity of the dancers we hired. Another reason I fly to Halifax to do these shows is that I want to keep my connections there strong. I don't think I'll ever feel completely at home in Toronto, so the development of the Halifax bellydance scene is important to me.
In other news....I have FINALLY decided "what to do with my life", at least for the next couple years (besides bellydance of course). I will always want to dance, but I don't want to have to take every sketchy gig that comes my way, or teach a bazillion times a week and burn out, just to pay the bills. I want to do things because I want to, not because i need to. So what will positively affect my dance career, allow me the flexibilty to keep teaching, performing and travelling, and pay the bills? Well my answer to this is becoming a Registered Massage Therapist. I'll become a better teacher with an in-depth knowledge of the body, and i can make my own schedule. If I decide to open a studio one day, I can even have a massage clinic under the same roof. :) So right now I am completing my pre-requisite physiology course, (which is fascinating) and plan to attend Sutherland-Chan School of Massage Therapy soon after. This means I'll be in TO for at least 2 more years...and then....???