Tip # 5 – Stand your ground.
Any Oriental Dancer who works – as a professional – in this field for a good amount of time will face many peculiar (I chose a nice word – I did) roads and propositions. Following or refusing those roads and propositions is an whole different matter – something that is connected with your values (or absence of values), education (or ignorance) and self-esteem. The way you see yourself as a person will define, at a great extent, how low or high you position yourself as a dancer.
I´ve known all sorts of temptations: I´ve been offered stardom on a platter (in exchange for prostitution of my body, mind, heart and soul), great dance/cinema/television opportunities (in exchange for the already mentioned goodies), millionaire offers in exchange you know from what, security for life in exchange for marriage (in other words: legalized prostitution).
My years of career and life in Egypt were particularly rich in those offers and my permanent refusal to accept them limited my professional and personal path as well as my finantial security. If I ever regret not accepting those sugar daddy offers? Not really. I can´t avoid being who I am, that´s for starters: NOT cut for prostitution of any kind; too independent and dignified for my own good. Then comes pride and peace of mind: if I sell my derrière (pardon my French) in exchange for career opportunities, I´ll not be able to walk straight and speak to everyone face to face. I´m too proud to fall in the gutter.
Success is important for me yet there are more important things in life and I´m not cut out for mediocrity of any sort.
I´m not God – go figure. So I´m not the one to judge the dancers who DO accept walking, dancing and living in the gutter. All I can say is YOU HAVE TO STAND YOUR GROUND, whatever your ground is made of. Envision how you want to see yourself – as an artist and a person – and build that path, refusing (or not) any offer that doesn´t fit your vision.
Temptations will be there; prejudices, ignorance and obstacles are still the daily bread of any Oriental Dancer who wishes to work seriously in this mad world of ours. Having a clear idea of which roads you will and will not step on is ESSENTIAL. Measuring what´s more important – apparent success in exchange for humiliation or hard won success that comes exclusively from your talent?
Can the dancer be separated from the person? Can you be a goddess on stage and a servant in “real life”? I personally believe you can´t. Whatever you are as a person will directly reflect on how you carry yourself as a dancer. It´s a drag, I know… 😉