Who do you see when you look at me? Here´s a relevant question, in dance as in life.
The ideas people throw on each other – projections of their own shadow, wishes, fears, dreams and frustrations – have been part of my life for a long time. In fact, I don´t remember a time, in childhood or adulthood (whatever “adulthood” means), when I was seen and understood for who I am. And who I am changes all the time which brings the subject into higher madness realms.
As a professional Oriental Dancer, in Egypt, I was looked upon as a star and a prostitute. Yes, you read it well: a star and a prostitute.
I´ve spent almost 10 years of my life performing in Cairo. The status I´ve earned – with work, persistence, talent and battles the devil wouldn´t dare coming up with – combined these two delightful things: star + prostitute. My radar learnt how to catch the signs fast: I could read people´s thoughts and I knew how they saw me before they showed it to me through words and actions.
More recently, as I moved from Egypt into this crazy (and beautiful) wide World of ours, I´m still wondering, discovering and laughing at the projections people create upon my person. Most of the things people see in me don´t belong to me but to them.
There are many cathegories inside the “projection agents” – here are some of them:
*Haters – a classic. They´ll hate you, no matter what. In fact, the better you are at your job(s) and in your life, the more they´ll hate you. Kindness kills them; talent kills them; victories and expansion kills them; happiness kills them. They project their own unhappiness and self-hate on you.
*Followers – another classic. Well intentioned folks, at least at first, who believe they need to copy, follow, receive the shadow of the light of somebody else instead of finding their own. They too project their ideas of what a person/dancer should be on you. Although they don´t come with the negativity of the “haters”, they carry a disaster about to happen in their luggage. Adulation, adoration, idolatry – the clone machine factory I´ve mentioned in more than one occasion – can easily turn into envy, comparison, frustration and, allas!, hate. Once the follower loses his/her illusions – realizing he/she cannot borrow somebody else´s light (ultimately, they cannot be somebody else) – he/she turns against their object of idolatry.
*Competitors – they think you´re competing with them – and act accordingly, throwing every sort of offense and challenge at you -, but it´s only them who are competing with you. You, their supposed competition, have no idea there´s a competition going on because, for you, there isn´t. In fact, you have no idea they exist but they presume you do and you´re on a mission to bring them down. Fresh news: they´re the ones who put themselves down.
The illusion that you, the successful dancer, wants to be better than them and prove they know nothing about your craft, never crosses your mind, only theirs. It´s like a private hell party where only the host is invited.
This cathegory fits into the “bitchy syndrome” I mention in my book “The Secrets of Egypt – Dance, Life & Beyond”.
*Then there are men – oh, boy! Eastern or Western, the tendency is to fantasize about the Oriental Dancer and to project all sorts of weird phantasies on her.
Who is this woman? Does she dance naked under the full moon, inviting males from surrounding villages to copulate? Is she Lilith with a hip scarf? Is it really true she eats men for breakfast with a cup of goat´s blood on the side? Does she organize Oriental orgies at her secret home, hidden in a desert that doesn´t come in maps, where odalisques dance to seduce sultans lying on cushions, with their open mouths turned to grapes that fall from the sky? Is she a hybrid – half woman, half beast?
The projections men have thrown on me, so far, are beyond bizarre – they are h-i-l-a-r-i-o-u-s. Plus: none of them have have a bit to do with me and everything to do with them.
The good thing about projections – because there seems to be a good side to everything, even to bullshit – is that they can show you (clarify, confirm, reinforce), through contrast, who you are. By seeing whom you´re not – using the projections/movies they throw on you -, you can see who you are.