Until today, this possibility was never raised in my head: quitting Oriental Dance.
Nothing in my career, or internal world – the one audiences and students don´t get to fully see -, suggested it. I know where I come from and know exactly where I want to go.
I´ve heard of professional dancers who quit the craft; I´ve read about crisis – should I do it? I lost my mojo! should I? should I not? – and motivated colleagues when they reached out for me in need of a push, a bit of support, a reminder of why we all started.
There were lost relationships – men who made me choose between them and my career -, several battles to fight – continuous, hard, energy drenching – and moments of exhaustion. There was Egypt – 8 years of it, to me more precise – which tested me to the core; the rest of the world. Great sponsors, mostly, and students who cherish my work in every corner of the globe but also envy, dirty competition, lobbies, disappointments and backstabbing. I´ve always been well received in shows, never went through a creativity crisis or felt unable to recover from the occasional lack of enthusiasm but…
Today, for the first time, I launched the question: should I quit Oriental Dance, as a profession and as a personal passion, and move to something else?
The trigger that launched this question was a stupid video of a stupid girl shaking and doing tricks with her breasts, on tempo, in a television talent show – she looked like a bizarre articulated puppet. A student sent it to me, with her best intention, excited about the fact that “bellydance” was on a television show.
I watched the first seconds of the video and I had to stop before throwing up. Suddenly, I felt the urge to be a new born baby, crawl back into my crib and yell out for mum.
-Isn´t she grrrreaaaaat? – She added, leaving me dumbfounded.
A few seconds of a damned, stupid video of a damned stupid girl doing damned stupid tricks with her breasts were enough to make me explode. And I´ll have to add: that girl has no exclusive rights on that damned bullshit. There´s a whole fashion around it and it´s spreading like a well fed virus: empty people doing mechanical empty movements – the whole odalisque seduces sultan phantasy returning to haunt us. Or me, to be more accurate.
It was seemingly inevitable. The idea jumped over my face: maybe there´s no reason to keep doing this. If people, like my student, applaud what that girl is doing in the video, if this is what is sold as EGYPTIAN ORIENTAL DANCE, if this is what ignorant, as well as trained dancers – students, professionals, audiences who are used to watch this art form -, think is great, then all my work has been reduced to nothing.
-Should I quit and save myself from having to watch these depressing videos? Should I throw the towel in order to avoid watching the assassination of my beloved Oriental Dance, the Language of the Soul? – I asked, out loud – not lightly, just to let off steam. I meant it in my bones.
I´ve calmed down and managed to erase the memory of those seconds. But I´m worried.
I keep asking.