It’s nearly Halloween, my absolute favorite holiday ever! This week’s challenge was inspired by this holiday.
Pushing Boundaries and Changing Perceptions
I am a dancer. I dance raks sharki (otherwise known as belly dance or oriental dance or whatever the current name du jour happens to be). But I am also an artist. I am a creative person that chooses to express myself through my dance. I’ve blogged a lot about this before (many times). That means that sometimes I do things that are…different. Or weird. Or things that people don’t like. And you know, as artists, we have to come to terms with the fact that there will be people out there that do not like what we do. That’s hard to accept. Really hard, because our dance is an expression of our feelings and our souls. For someone to reject that HURTS.
But there are ways that we can reach out to people and show them that what we do might be different but not necessarily bad. What can we do? The only thing we can do: change our own perception.
Have you ever gone to a show and hated half of the acts because they were Tribal? Or maybe you got bored with the endless repetition of Egyptian classical music that all sounds the same? Or maybe you hated the song one performer chose, even though her dance was beautiful? Or were they just playing it too loud? Have you ever whispered to your neighbor, “God I hope the next act is better!”?
If you have, you need to change your perceptions and push your own boundaries. I’m guilty as charged, too. I’ve seen a lot of belly dance, and there were times I wish I could crawl away without seeming rude. I’ve sat through acts I was embarrassed to be viewing, and all I could think about was, “This is five minutes of my life I will never get back.” But I’ve also seen belly dance that completely changed the way I thought about the entire art. I’ve sat with my jaw hanging open, listening to music I never in my life would have considered dancing to, watching artists change everything about how I felt about my own dance. The best and the worst…and I am sure you have too.
So what’s the challenge?
Do something in belly dance you never, ever, ever thought you would do. Ever. Like, really, ever. If you hate Tribal, maybe you should drop in on a class or two and see just how difficult it can be. Maybe instead of “suffering” through the next Tribal piece you watch, you can at least appreciate the technique and hard work those ladies put into it. It may not end up being your cup of tea, but at least you can find something to appreciate. If Egyptian classical music bores you, maybe you should take a class on Arabic music. Then you might realize how complex it can be and how different it is compared to Western music. Then the next time you watch a classical Egyptian dance you won’t feel like you’ve heard that song a few million times (though you couldn’t name the song or be sure you HAD heard it before) and can’t wait for it to be over. Think about how you can stretch your boundaries as both a dancer and an audience member. Uncomfortable with being sparkly? Why? Think Tribal fusion is a mess? Why? Want to do something really out there, but are afraid to do it? Do it anyway. You never know who you might touch or inspire, and that’s powerful.
Don’t feel like you are wasting your time watching other dancers in a style you do not prefer. Think of it as expanding your horizons. And having an open mind is probably the single-most important thing we can do as human beings to understand and appreciate one another. You may decide afterwards that you still hate Egyptian music, but at least you gave it a try. You may never dance Tribal fusion, but at least you can now sit through a piece of music you hate and watch just how awesome pops and locks can be.
So give it a try. Try something weird, uncomfortable, or strange…or scary! Challenge yourself and your perceptions, and remember that it’s okay to be wrong. I’m wrong all the time (yes, I admit it freely, and that is so FREEING). Do something that you might not like…you never know what might happen!!