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This short article was born from a question asked by a Tribe member on "Too
Much Drama To Dance". Here was her question, and my subsequent answer on belly
dance politics. ~Sharon Moore
" When I began bellydancing, I did it because it was fun. I discovered that I had a real passion for it. But, during the years of studying bellydance I have discovered the ugly side of it. Politics. I know dancers want to perform and even make a living from it. But it seems that when a dancer wants to spread there wings and go pro or even just have events for other bellydancers to enjoy a night of dance, there's always some drama. If there was a guide or a list of rules to help dancers avoid stepping on other dancers toes, what will it include? What will be the number one rule? Cause I would like to know. I mean when I decide to go pro or want to make events, I want to avoid drama."
The word politics is used to mean a great many things in belly dance. But I don't think all drama in the belly dance world is what I would call politics. I would say that it is simply the act of navigating many different personlities, viewpoints, communication styles, etc. That will always exist. We can't all be 100% able to understand and simultaneously be understood by one another. The things we say and the way we choose to say them may be one thing we can control, but the way they are construed is somewhat out of our control. And there will always be "drama queens".
I agree that it is completely within our control as to how we respond to dramatic situations. Whether we feed them, or whether we deny them any fuel and thus see them fizzle out. Of course, there are those tenacious trouble-makers who will always be around, pleased as punch to see you fall and the first to gossip about it tomorrow. What can you do? *shrug* Just don't feed it. Just don't let it get under your skin. Don't let them see you sweat. ;) Go about your business, and don't worry too much about it. Karma gets them one way or another, so you don't have to do a thing. That's the best advice I can give, and the best advice I can take myself.
Now politics, on the other hand, while often tied to these dramatic flare-ups, are not quite the same thing, in my opinion. Politics to me has more to do with manipulation of the facts, and battle for control over various aspects of the community's involvement, etc. Politics come from drama queens who also happen to have some control over something other people want. For instance, politics can be involved with organizing/organizers of events, workshops, or classes. Politics can involve vendors, musicians, venues, and of course other dancers. Politics is based on falseness -- false information, false friendships, false attitudes. Politics is the game you must sometimes play in order to navigate through those in control who enjoy power trips and manipulation. I agree that sometimes we are forced to "play the game" if someone makes you jump through hoops to get to where you are trying to go. But we don't have to be a part of it the rest of our lives, and we certainly don't have to foster it.
If someone or some venue is playing the political game, don't encourage them and/or don't attend that event or venue if you can avoid it. In turn, if you ever have the opportunity to create experiences for others, be it a workshop, class, or event, don't you set up the hoops. Be as friendly and accessible as possible. Be warm and helpful, and make it easy on other people, even those drama queens on power trips. Don't discriminate. Be the bigger person. Choke back any pride and just be giving and available. Hopefully the women who choose to play games will cease to have fodder for their drama (though likely they will create it where they can't find it), and you can avoid all that rigamarole.
As for avoiding stepping on toes, communication is the biggest key. It's wonderful that you want to get a greater sense of dancer ettiquette, but in the end, if you're new to all this and make some mistakes, MOST women out there will be open to hearing an "I'm sorry", and will be forgiving and help you to not make the same mistake again by sharing helpful information with you. The people who explode and won't listen or help are the ones you couldn't have pleased anyway.
That said, the drama I have experienced personally has been so few and far between, and often from very predictable sources. Most dancers I know are fabulous...I MEAN FABULOUS...open hearted and open minded women who I am proud to know. The bad apples just get more press. ;)
Don't let it get to you. Just keep on keepin' on, and have fun!
© Sharon Moore 2005-2006