It’s Never About You- Being a Selfless Bellydancer

As an artist, it’s so easy to get wrapped up in our glamorous (and sometimes not-so-glamorous) world and forget your true goals as a dancer. For example, as a baby dancer I remember preparing for a big stage show and thinking for days on what style and song would fit me best. What style should I do? What costume looks best on me? What can I do to show off all my skills? Right there I figured out the issue, I was thinking too much about me! Think back on your favorite performance related memories. Do you remember that time spent overthinking everything and did an adequate job? Or do you remember doing your first improv to a song you really loved and nailing it? The first scenario is never the case.

Since I’ve grown as a dancer and now teach and judge competitions, I see this problem in everyone else. I’ve been to competitions where you can physically see the dancer thinking about what step she planned next or have listened backstage at how they now hate the song they are dancing to. It’s so sad! Now think back at the last time you saw a fantastic performance. Remember how you could see every bit of their personality in the dance, their hips looked like they were making the darbouka sound, and everyone in the room was mesmerized? Have you ever looked at someone and thought, “they just have something about them.” Well, that something you can’t explain is you! That dancer has spent every fleeting moment of that performance and her preparation thinking of you. “What will the audience want to see?” “What type of energy will they respond to?” “How can they be inspired by this performance?”

For those of you who have done professional events, you would never dance to Turkish music at an Egyptian wedding just because it ‘suited you best’ would you? This is the same for any performance! This is an art form where the audience matters most. Yes, you are the one in the spotlight, but it should be about the way you make them feel when you are dancing. There are events where you can let your creative genius play and create something for your own fun, but even then your goal should be to inspire/touch/awaken/etc. something in your spectators.

For your next performance, whether it is a small hafla or huge stage production, help your true self shine by reflecting in the perspective of the crowd. Personally as a spectator, I want to see a dancer lose themselves in the music (whether slow or peppy) and interact with the audience. What do YOU like to see? Feel free to comment below or start a discussion on Facebook!

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