I´m frequently asked how I´ve built my career – still building it, by the way; there´s so much more to accomplish 😉 – and which qualities a Dancer must have in order to succeed. Both questions make me shiver.
If your aim is SUCCESS, you´re doomed from the start (in my opinion, as valuable and limited as it may be); success should not be the target (what does success mean, exactly?) – sharing your LOVE for the art should be the target. Success is a consequence that may – or not – come in the shape you expect.
If you don´t know where to start is because your passion for dance is not that big: there are many roads to build: you can start organizing events in your community; you can propose performances and classes to companies, schools, theatres, etc.
You gotta THINK & MOVE – not only while you´re dancing, mostly when you´re not. Don´t expect things to fall on your lap – they won´t, unless you play some dirty games that´ll make you feel a little bellow human.
Oriental Dance, in particular, is a tricky area to work with/in. No one expects big things from this dance: they´ve all enjoyed their share of hootchie coochie and bullshit odalisque shaking her bottom. Don´t expect respect or interest unless you OFFER THEM FIRST. It´s a drag, I know; it´s also the truth so deal with it.
Now the most boring part (nobody wants to hear about):
In order to be successful – of this dance or any other – you need to go beyond the obvious skills (talent, education, will power, etc). It´s a small world and karma is constantly working its magic (thanks the Lord!): make sure you´re HONEST, ACCOUNTABLE, ELEGANT and RESPECTFUL towards everyone you meet.
I´ve been lucky most of the times. People with whom I´ve worked so far have been fabulous and trustworthy. I´ve also met a few exceptions along the way:
1. Sponsors who arrive late to the events they organize (?!); dancers who ask me for interviews/work meetings and make me wait for them for 20-30minutes. Punctuality is a MUST, folks. It seems so obvious and yet…Making other people wait for you – like your invited artist/teacher or the dancer you´ve been dreaming to interview – is…how can I say it?…a piece of shit. Sorry but there are no better words for it.
2. People who enjoy your services (in my case: performances, workshops, lectures, books) and don´t pay you until you chase them like the FBI chases a terrorist. I mean: really?! Another – seemingly – obvious quality to success (remember reputation is made of many things – being chased due to unpaid work does NOT play in your favour). Having to mention it feels as odd as telling musicians not to speak on their mobiles while they´re performing.
3. People who hire you because they presume your name will bring status, fame and attention to their own person; then they treat you like crap (playing Mussolini on you). It only happened twice but it was enough to traumatize me for life. Don´t use people for your own benefit, man! It´s just tacky and sad.
4. Gossip masters who hate you just because and make up stories that end up falling on their faces when they least expect it. I kind of like this one – how much have I laughed at stories of my life I never even dreamt of? Oh, boy.
Now the cherry on the top of this cake:
I caught an article on FB that featured LAZINESS as the next BIG THING for a dancer. Yep: it praised laziness and it taught how to get away with murder (how to pretend you work when you don´t; how to work less with bigger results; how to sleep on your ass while making others believe you´re the new Isadora Duncan). That post had hundreds of likes and shares – loads of dancers were actually supporting it.
I´m hated enough for the sake of my breathing and I have better ways to express myself so I refrained from commenting but I couldn´t avoid feeling frustrated: what did that article say about those dancers and the way they see their craft?
Such lack of professionalism, respect and knowledge may sound funny & interesting to many (it apparently does) but it´s certainly one of the reasons why Oriental Dance remains the poorer sibling in the World Dance family.
Allow me to be boring – a little bit more: this F………………..G (pardon my French) mentality that promotes superficiality, dishonesty and amateur attitudes don´t serve the PURPOSE I think is shared by most of us.
The question of “how did you build your success” must vanish from your mind; wondering how to get more LIKES, FOLLOWERS and “supporters” for the sake of your vanity must go to hell (where it belongs) – remember the most popular videos on the net are usually the ones which portray pornography, weird people eating weirder stuff and overall freak shows.
Ask me how I follow my bliss – that´s a question worthy of our attention.
Ask me about ideas that help us share the beauty of this dance with the world – that´s also a good one.
Ask me how you can improve your dance or/and your teaching – we´ll be heading somewhere.
Ask me if it´s worth to work hard and treat everybody you meet with kindness, humbleness, honesty and consideration – we´ll be building better grounds for the profession we (say we) love so much.
Anything else is a waste of my (and your) time.