Belly Dance Ethics; Either You Have Them or You Don’t

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Belly Dance Ethics - Leyla Najma's Belly Dance Blog

Well, this blog is a few days early but there is a reason for me writing today. As some of you might know and have read, Amora the dancer offering her belly dance in a cup course decided to write in which I felt was a cool thing to do because it took some backbone and tell her side of things. I replied and told her that I still did not agree with how she markets her course. I stand by this view even more so now.

This gal has not stopped writing me since! Constantly defending herself and critiquing my dance, my position, my teaching ability and so on. Basically emails that in the morning read like, bla, bla, bla……………especially to sleepy eyes.

Interesting isn’t it that with our creative rights and divine inspiration that we hold the definition of what we are in our dance dearly and with a death grip. In this case Amora holds dear to her heart the course she is teaching. But in saying this I find it interesting that for such a woman to say that she has the ability to help women become belly dancers in less than a month that she herself offers something she wasn’t able to learn in a month. What has taken her years to learn she is stripping away from other student/dancers and telling them, “Do as I say not as I do?”  Is this not hypocritical in a way to offer what she probably couldn’t do in the beginning either?

The blog post may have been her first criticism and I understand her feelings especially with me being in my position with other dancers. To be honest with you guys, I don’t write half the stuff that goes on and if I did my blog post would be a whining fest with no inspiration, ideas or insights and you all would eventually end up unsubscribing.

Though I deleted her marketing emails continually in the beginning before I checked out her offer, my question to her is how did she get my email in the first place? I didn’t subscribe to her offer and show interest in her course and I think that she was out of place in assuming she could send emails to people out of the blue. We all get spam and even some dancers consider my blog post spam but they can unsubscribe from my blog post at will.

The last email I got from her was her critiquing my dancing and telling me what was wrong with it and what I should do to be a better dancer and that with my years of experience I was very disappointing to her.  Daniel had a really good point of view that I think is important for people like her to know. Daniel said, “As a point of decorum for anyone who has manners, it is impolite and inappropriate to critique anything where the critique is unsolicited. It would be one thing to view someone’s work and then ask if it would be ok to make a suggestion but quite another thing to just assume that a critique is acceptable.”  And with Amora it has been non stop……….

So I realized I didn’t bad mouth her dancing and I didn’t bad mouth her years of training with her dancing or her dance videos, what I questioned was her course. And unlike most women she went for the jugular and decided to make this very personal and target my ability as a dancer and teacher. To be honest with you guys I figured this was going to happen when I posted my blog. I had a feeling that Amora would not let it rest but what she doesn’t realize is that not all experienced dancers, teachers and students of this dance form will agree with what she is doing. I am in the front lines so I am the target and I am willing to do this to let all of you know the scams that are out there.

Is it unethical to offer such a course? I say yes as a teacher, dance enthusiast and a menopausal woman. I have never claimed to be the best dancer, teacher but what I do claim is to believe in all of you and because of this to share the passion and love I have for this dance.  I don’t offer belly dance in a course that says you will be a professional dancer in less than a month. If I did this then you would all know that I am thinking only of your money and not your well being.

So Daniel and I decided today to block Amora from my blog because of her unprofessional behavior with her emails. If she could have just left it at her comments on the blog that would have been fine but she pushed the limits of what any woman would consider to be bad behavior.

I talk about behavior like hers in my book and I found it actually funny that we were dealing with one of the actual personality traits and characteristics written in my book. This type of behavior just changes with faces but it has been around our business and world since human history.

As a society we have to make a stand and say what isn’t right and I say anyone who says you can be a professional belly dancer in less than a month is only after your money.

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About Leyla Najma

Lifelong professional Belly Dancer dedicated to providing “Belly Dance Instruction That Is Easy To Understand And Learn That Connects The Dots”

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21 Responses to “Belly Dance Ethics; Either You Have Them or You Don’t”
  1. aflynn1a says:

    I find it fascinating that it is stated that someone can learn how to become a professional bellydancer in less then a month!!! It is outrageous and unthinkable!! I feel this is giving false hope to alot of dancers out there which as teachers we should not be doing with our students. I have no respect for someone who says do what I say and not as I do!! We all have different opinions and values and I understand that but it just makes me wonder what are they thinking? What really gets me on top of everything else when someone admits that it took then 7 years to be where they are but say they can teach someone in less of a month of something they could not do and admit is not right! Because of this it is very unethical. It would be just like a doctor saying to someone yes I have had 10 years of education to become who I am but I can teach you everything in less then a month!!! Wow!!! As teachers and students we all have a responsiblity to ensure we are being ethically responsible because in this dance there is no regulations of what others can and can not do. Leyla, as a teacher I do not promise students anything that I feel they can’t achieve what I do tell them is they will have a greater self esteem and self image and our learning a ancient and wonderful art form. I tell them the reason I teach because I want to share my passion with others and give my students the things that I did not get as a student to help them along the way. Secondly, for her to bad mouth your dancing just makes my blood boil!!!! That is wrong!! To give it out in an unsolicited way is wrong!!

    For myself I realize that I may not be the best and I realize not everyone will like my dancing because we are each different and unique and we all move in different ways but the one thing I have is passion and a commitment to the dance and to not lead my students off a wandering path!!

    If the dance really means something to her then I think she needs to redesign her program!! It is completely unethical and wrong and we need to be on the watch out for these type of programs!

    • Leyla Najma says:

      Allison,

      Thank you for writing in and I am hoping more women do as well. Amora was emailing me every day and the funny thing is the last thing you want to read when you first wake up in the morning is an email stating what’s wrong with your dancing. I don’t think criticism is bad, it’s just as I stated I questioned her course only, not her dancing, dance training or videos. I am sure I have not heard the last of her because Daniel says she is one of those people who always has to get in the last word.
      What I am not understanding is why haven’t more teachers called her on her program. She said to talk to her students and they would tell me I guess how awesome she is but I don’t want to talk to students, I want to talk to the professionals who are around her or know her and what they think.
      I knew this would get me in hot water…….just wait till my book comes out!

      Hugs to you and your family,

      Leyla

  2. aflynn1a says:

    Lol! When does your book come out Leyla?

    • Leyla Najma says:

      I’m on the 4th edit now and once this is done then I will give it to a friend who is a screen writer. After that it will go to a literary agent here in town. Sometimes saying it like you see it can stir the pot of complacency. It’s not all bad just stories and thoughts on women in this dance form and what we do to each other that makes our dance journeys harder then it needs to be. Time will tell………..

  3. nymphet says:

    This is such a low marketing scheme in any area or industry that con artist’s use… They don’t care about the “real” thing that needs to be put into the learning structure of whatever they are marketing. They only want to make money, therefore, they lure their customers with such cliche phrases like “Learn this in just so and so amount of time…”.
    It is completely unethical that it should be unlawful… Unfortunately, their is no quality check around such claims to ban them.

    This case, though, is so shockingly sad that a person who has spent so much time in developing skills can be so irrespective for the time herself has invested in this art and so irrespective to the belly dance community while she does know that nobody can and ever will become a belly dancer in such short amount of time regardless of the speed of one’s ability to learn and amount of practice they devote to it….

    I am very glad to see that at least someone cares enough to be brave to lay the smelly fish on the table…

    • Leyla Najma says:

      Thank you so much Nymphet!
      That was well written and I appreciate you writing in. Sometimes to be the one to call someone on something can be like being in an arena fighting a lion off with a feather! Since the original blog post it has felt like this gal has been on me but I agree whole heartedly with you that it’s a fishy scheme and I am so surprised other teachers have not questioned her marketing principals and values. Also I’ll admit to you for about a week I dreaded getting up and checking my emails and blog comments……….funny how someone can change even the simplest of joys. I knew it would probably happen and you and the other girls writing in and viewing my blog posts make it all worth while! Thanks again!

      Blessings and Hugs,

      Leyla

      • nymphet says:

        I do know how hard it is and just because of that most of us just shut-up and look away. I know I do.
        We all must stand up for the art we all are in love with and make these crucial confrontations.
        You set out a good example and a role model for all of us.
        Thank you for the truth you carry and share with us.

        • Leyla Najma says:

          Nymphet,

          I think we are all role models for each other. And I am so grateful for dancers like you who voice their opinions and stand up for what they think is right. We are a community and we are stronger standing together!! Thank you for your eloquence and for sharing your feelings with us all!

          Blessings,

          Leyla

  4. aflynn1a says:

    I agree we are all role models and each of us needs to stand firm on our beliefs and values! We are a community and we will be stong just by sticking together! Leyla, we are with you all the way!

    Allison

    • Leyla Najma says:

      Allison,

      We are all standing up for a truth that is a fundamental right of every woman/man to learn how to belly dance in a graceful, dignified way with no time limits on what they will learn. Even well intended ideas can lead ignorant people to think off the wall stuff. This is just one instance where I think this gal needs to figure out a way not to put unrealistic time limits on a spiritual and personal journey. I think she is a good person with good intentions that don’t work in the real world.

      As a community we can make a difference at least for ourselves and dancers who we meet along our paths!
      Thanks Dear Heart for your comments!!

      Hugs,

      Leyla

  5. aflynn1a says:

    Awe, thanks Leyla!! Making a difference is what I try to strive for! My husband asked what the big hot debate was going on Leyla’s blog! I mentioned to him about the dancer and becoming a professional in less then a month which he thinks is wrong too and very unethical. Based on he knows how much time I spend on my dance and how hard i work at it!! I am sure there are times when he thinks ok enough! LOL! Anyway I also wanted to tell you that I am really excited about your book coming out and I can not wait to read it!!!

    Hugs!!!
    Allison

  6. Belly Dance Husband says:

    Here’s my 2.5 cents on the whole thing.
    Respecting the journey any one of us makes towards achieving a personal vision of excellence is what makes getting there sweet. Isn’t it? When you set out on any journey towards excellence it is the process of getting there (where ever there may be) where we find the treasure of growth, maturation and wisdom. Without the wisdom that comes from walking and navigating the path towards excellence (with all it’s associated corresponding failures) we are shallow and without discernment or gratitude and ultimately of little use to others who may be on a similar path. Everyone wants it yesterday. Money, fame, glory, or whatever it is and the worst thing the universe could do is to deliver it to us (and it wouldn’t anyway) without us paying the price. The universal law of exchange is always respected. Has to be.

    • Leyla Najma says:

      Daniel,

      As always well said, eloquently and to the point!
      Your comments always add in a wonderful spice because we all need to see issues from a man’s point of view!
      i whole heartedyl agree with you! Take away the journey from any man or woman and you take away their right to discover life.

      Smooches,

      Me, wife

  7. Jaybird9 says:

    I’ve enjoyed reading many of your articles, however, this one makes me uncomfortable. I believe everyone is entitled to their beliefs, but to negatively speak of another teacher and posting her name onto the Internet is simply a low blow and unprofessional. Yes, I realized that the teacher in question approached you aggressively and did not know how to maturely react to your disinterest in her program, but I do not respect how you put her name out there.

    Telling your story while keeping her anonymous would have been greatly appreciated. Ugly disputes between teachers like this occur all the time and its important discuss them as a learning experience. And as a witness to many similar situations, I have learned the best way to go about this issue is to maintain the integrity of yourself and whomever is attacking your excellence as a teacher, despite their awful behavior.

    I do not mean for this to be an attack whatsoever, but I feel the need to state my position. I welcome any further explanations if you wish and will gladly reconsider my comments. Thank you so much for reading.

    Arielle

    • Leyla Najma says:

      Hello Arielle,

      First of all I whole heartedly disagree with you on the keeping her name anonymous for the reason of number one being a responsible teacher/dancer and number two taking on a “BIG” problem in our dance field with claims like Amora’s that makes it laughable not only to the general public but other dance fields as well. And I know there are disputes with dance teachers but this went way beyond just a stupid “ugly” dispute, this was an issue that as I said before affects all of us who do teach. And I guarantee you that if the Egyptian teachers knew about her advertisements I wouldn’t be the only one standing up to the plate.

      Low blow you say, how can it be a low blow to question a course that will effect many dancers careers and ability to be taken seriously with other dancers they encounter? What happens when those dancers who take her course and yes she stated here that to take from anyone else was a waste of money and time; they will think they have learned all they need to from her? She says workshops and dance classes are a waste of money except her course. So one of the problems in our dance field is the anonymous aspect of being politically correct to the point our dance field suffers for it.

      I have retained my integrity by being one of the few dancers that questioned her ridiculous claims. And I say ridiculous because there is no way for anyone to become a professional belly dancer in less than 30 days, period. The bottom line is she is taking money and leaving these women with a false sense of self and I might add the one thing she could not do herself. She has been dancing for years and she is offering what she could not do. How unfortunate that you think calling someone on something important is having less integrity……….it just depends how passionate you feel about something and sometimes taking a stand is not comfortable, fun and many won’t do it because they think it’s not their fight. I took a stand and I’m proud of the fact I did because I saw no one else was or no one else was willing. Ugly disputes can be based on egos, this was based on ethics, principles and a responsibility to my dance community.

      I have a duty to bring these issues and problems to my readers and I am sure there is not one person who was not made uncomfortable by this subject matter, myself included. So we are all in the same boat just different points of view.

      No matter where you turn in this business even if you are legit and go by the numbers there are always going to be detractors. The big question is to what degree do we disagree with someone and let it go or to what degree do we call a spade a spade? I’ve been in both camps and you just have to decide where your principles and values lie and what is important for you either to defend or leave alone. Amora’s claims I in good conscious could not walk away or turn my head. I did what I felt was right and stand by it.

      Thank you for your comment and for your honest feelings about the subject. I respect your feelings and thanks for taking the time to comment!

      Happy New Year,

      Leyla

      • Jaybird9 says:

        With your response, you really made it clear that your intentions was to preserve the morals you have for teaching dance. At first I had assumed that it was an egoistical issue, as you discussed. My thoughts began with “of course, it is unethical to promise professionalism in such a short amount of time but who would believe it?” But it is wrongful of me to assume. I have years of dance background in various styles, but not everyone who is interested in belly dance, or any dance of that matter, understands the basic learning process, which involves persistence, commitment, time, muscle memory, and more time. I greatly respect that you stand up for those who do not understand this (yet) because someone has to.

        After reading your response, which I appreciate very much, I have soften but not withdrew from my belief that anonymity would be better. In other words, I agree to disagree, but I definitely understand your point of view. I take back my statements that your article was a low blow, unprofessional, and does not maintain integrity. (Ouch, that was kind of harsh now that I reread my comment.) Simply, you were defending the integrity of teaching dance and looking out for the inexperienced. Not only that, you rightfully addressed the teacher in question of her unprofessional deceptive promises. The mentioning of her name still makes me a little uncomfortable but I honor your intentions and keeping the best interest of dance students.

        Thank you and Happy New Years to you too,
        Arielle

        • Leyla Najma says:

          Hello Arielle,

          It took me 3 days to decide to even take on the issue. Did I want to even address it, did I want to get into a possible argument with her or her friends and did I want to stand up alone? I felt that after 3 days of chewing on it that I had no choice if I wanted to keep the integrity or what I think the integrity is of this dance.

          To mention her name was also another issue for me because I know how it feels to be a target and know how it feels to have someone write down words that pull apart what you believe in. The difference as I see it and saw it is that women can decide for themselves to buy my videos and if they don’t no problem. It’s a decision they make for themselves. Amora stated that to take classes from teachers, (I can only assume like you and me) is a waste of money. So I felt I had to speak up for many of the workshop vendors, teachers and dancers who are my friends and those apart of our dance world who maybe didn’t know about her comments and course. The journey is the best part of this dance field and to mind manipulate inexperienced dancers into thinking that they would learn it all with her within a short period of time is just wrong and didn’t cut the mustard.

          I’ll also mention that I had assumed that I would be getting hate mail from her friends and supporters and had prepared myself for that. As of yet, I have not received any and to be honest I am grateful. It was not by any means an easy decision to do this but it was in my view the right thing to do.

          I understand your feelings and appreciate your comments very much and my respect for you is high because you were willing to write in and state your view and position. Please keep writing in and thanks again for your professionalism and integrity!

          Blessings and Thanks,

          Leyla

  8. liz39malinksi says:

    I have just started your belly dancing lessons I have received your trial lessons. I have danced since and early age but as an adult looking for dance belly dance is wonderful. I am a beginner and I have started your lessons I am going to attend a local class. But what I have learned from yourself is amazing you have taught me the right way to move without the need to strain as well as giving me options to alternate the moves with my ability. I am amazed your teaching is very good with clear precise moves and i like the fact that you explain why you need to do certain moves with aim to get in to a combo quicker including soft and sharp movements. There is so much detail in this form of dance I have so much to learn I will stick with you Thank you for being able to teach me via the net I am possitive you cannot learn the belly dance in a short time I can see it will take years I cant wait for my belly dance class..and the best part is is fun

    • Leyla Najma says:

      Thank you Liz so much for writing in!
      Belly dance is pretty much a life time endeavor and the best part is that as we experience and live life, it all gets mixed into the dance.
      I think this is why belly dance is so popular because we can learn it in a way that makes it our own expression. So welcome to the belly dance community and know you have a great group of gals here as well as myself supporting you on your belly dance journey!

      Thanks and Blessings,

      Leyla

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