on being selective

Selective, discerning, choosy; none of these are dirty words, not even picky. It's perfectly fine to be discriminating when choosing where to dine, what to wear, what to watch. What is wrong with using that same discerning taste when it comes to bellydance? 

image credit
(yes I know this is Gandalf not Dumbledore, thought  it was kinda funny)
For some time now I've noticed that the tendency is to "like" or love everything that is put out there. Everything out there from youtube videos, to DVD's, classes, to live performances in recitals, festivals and professional staged shows. I don't buy it. I say poppycock, baloney, hogwash, it's a bunch of malarky and any other early 20th century slang you can think of . 

That's right, if you say you love it all, I'm calling your bluff! 
My early experience in bellydance was very different. I was encouraged to go see other dancers but with a discerning eye. I didn't feel peer pressure to say that I loved everything that was put front of me. 

Being selective does not make you a bad person it makes you a normal human being.

It makes you honest. I think it makes you a better dancer. Being discerning helps develop your eye, your taste, your style. It will obligate you to really think about what you like from this or that dancer or this or that style. It makes you think about your own dancing. I'm not advocating badmouthing dancers or events that are not to your liking. That's not at all what I'm saying here and I think you know that.

Careful discernment will avoid early burn out.
Early in our bellydance education we can't get enough. We want to see everything that is out there. We drink it up, it's like a sweet nectar of life. Then for most of us comes the moment when we decide whether we will remain more spectator or move on to being more of a participator. We begin to hone our dance experience by focused practice and selective show attendance. At first simply because it's a function of time and money. We can't possibly attend everything because there isn't enough of us to go around. Inevitably, though, we all try to do it all. And do you know what comes next? Dance is not that beautiful stress-relief activity it once felt like. Dance is now something you "have" to do. It doesn't feel ecstatic. You resent having to go to class and missing your friend's birthday party. Yep, you have officially hit burn out my friend. 

You don't need my permission to use your careful judgement when making your bellydance choices but I promise you now, you have my full support.
Save yourself, refine this dance, choose what you think is good dancing. Be selective!

What are your thoughts on being selective? How do you choose? 


  1. Love this Gina! I think you're so right about this one. When I first started dancing, I was at a small place, so too much bellydance wasn't a problem. Tucson is different, and I think everyone should know that there's no shame in feeling a little burnt out once in a while.

    I've found that when I grew tired of dancing, I cut back a bit for a little while. I tried out new things by doing at home exercise videos or taking a different class for a change of pace. Then, once a week, I'd search for a bellydance youtube video. Or, if there was a great dancer performing, I'd go to their show... but ONLY if they were the type of bellydancer I wanted to be. For youtube and live dancers, there has to be some quality they have that makes it impossible to take my eyes off them.

    I'd know it was time to come back to bellydance when the music/performance made me really happy and inspired me to dance again. Those moments are when I really improved, and I found out that you just can't force these moments otherwise.

    1. Yep, absolutely no shame. In fact I highly recommend regular breaks. Complete breaks. Meaning no practice, don't listen to the music, no videos. Just unplug for a while. It does wonders, you come back really refreshed and ready to go.
      That's so cool that you are able to identify your growth pattern and that you're working with it and not against it.
      Thanks for sharing!

  2. I identify so much with this post!

    I think that when we are first starting out as baby belly dancers, we DO like just about everything, because even if we're being told to watch with a discerning eye, we can't yet tell what is good and bad unless it is really, really, REALLY bad. Now that I have a couple years of dance under my jingly belt, I'm better at figuring out what I don't like based on personal taste (ie, I hate this song so I don't enjoy the dance performed to it) and what I don't like because it's poor technique. I've also discovered that some things I didn't like as a newbie are actually much better now that I'm viewing them as an experienced dancer.

    But there is way too much pressure to like everything and support everything, and yes, I do resent missing non-BD events sometimes because I already committed to a dance event. I also resent getting invited to half a dozen different dinner shows each weekend (not much of an exaggeration), almost none of which are in my town.

    I suspect I am turning into a cranky old lady before my time ;)

    1. Yes I agree there is definitely a "ramp up" phase where it is good to take it all in. It's like you're collecting all the data and later with a little experience of actually learning technique and maybe dancing at a couple of recitals -- then you can start to categorize all that info you took in at the beginning.

      Ha ha! I don't think you're turning into a cranky old lady. But I get what you mean. Ultimately you're in charge of your boundaries, your standards and your time --- so be confident in your choices! I got your back! (no apologies, no regrets, no excuses!).


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