A couple of months ago I did took part in a four day workshop with Rachel Brice and Ashley Lopez. It was my first time training with Rachel, ever.
In the last few months I have seen a whole bunch of my friends give up belly dancing, if not for good, at least for a good long while. And some of these guys are top international performers. And it's both sad for them and good for them, and it's interesting for me because I know exactly where they are coming from sometimes.
Truth is, being dedicated to belly dance is tough, it can be very lonely, it can be very boring, it can feel hopeless and pointless sometimes, and over the last two years I have thought about giving up often. I have gone through periods when I have just totally lost my enjoyment of it, when I don't see the point, and where watching any belly dance performance just leaves me feeling meh. I've had large chunks of time where I don't feel like I am enough, that I should love it more, be more obsessed by YouTube, stop being the world's most jaded bellydancer, I should train more, I should find training fun, I should do it this way, I should do it that way, and on and on and on. If I did all of these things, then I would deserve to be a good dancer.
So I have been struggling with me and belly dance for a good long while. I managed to get a place on this Rachel Brice intensive and spent the whole year thinking about selling it on so I could, I dunno, use the money to go scuba diving or buy socks instead, but I did go in the end.
Rachel discovered in the end that she was making it hard for herself, and she had an idea of how she should be as a dancer and what she should be doing. She was following the ideas of what she should be and what other people were up to as a guide of how she should be a belly dancer. Slowly, she came out of her big ol' belly dance slump by just doing the things she liked and only the things she was interested in. And now she loves it again - she's like this tiny little midget of belly dance love at the moment. I can't even begin to tell you how long she got us doing arabics for cos she likes them just right. And she says that now she's out the other side, dance feels better than ever.
So this, this is what I really took away from my week with Rachel. That sometimes, even the biggest and brightest just stop feeling it and want to give up too. Sometimes they feel hopeless and bored too. (I re-remembered talking to Mardi Love a few years back, and she was all "Yeah, I might give up belly dancing in a few months and do something else." Not just Rachel!) Being all conflicted, having other interests, being bored, not being as super obsessive as you were when it was all new and shiny, it doesn't mean that you are a bad dancer and don't deserve to be a good one or anything. It's just how art and creation goes sometimes. It's just the process.
(Infusion Emporium Theatre show photo! I'm in the middle left - they told us to pull a crazy face, so naturally, Sammy Valentine and Catherine Taylor and myself all pulled very serious expressions.)