Dance, A Straight Line Curved

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Understanding the timing for anything is very important and I feel in our dance world we need to ultimately give way to passing phases and emotional outbursts. The calm before the storm can be a warning for the perfect storm and in the case of entertainers…well that can be a tsunami of gigantic proportions called the destruction of Atlantis. If any dancer understands her mortality, it’s going to hurt when the truth of the mirror comes calling and her apparent calling card is confusion, slight irritation and chocolates all at the same time. And did I say LOTS of chocolate?!

Many, many moons ago I knew I didn’t want to dance like everybody else and sometimes I think I paid a price for that kind of mind set but then on the other hand what would the price have been if I would have been a good back scratcher. The question is, if any woman decides to make a go at dance, what are her chances? I’ve looked at my dance as a business (always) but in some ways and I’ll be honest, I think recently I sold my soul to technology and that took away my authentic and natural state of mind. Ideas have to wallow in rich soil and sometimes the spontaneous mind sets off a flurry of anticipated excitement at the mere thought of creating something new. Years earlier I was always in a creative state of mind and my relationships with restaurants, nightclubs and gigs were a match made in heaven. Think of the process all entertainers go through; first the idea is born then processing the idea… kind of like rolling it around in the brain, preparing to bring the idea to life, Frankensteining the idea into life and then preparing it for its début performance. That’s a lot of work and seriously not all humanity is cable of doing this feat. Only the passionate, bohemian and the aficionado of moonlighting can even attempt to achieve our level of performance bravado. Sometimes for a dancer it’s do or die!

My life has been looking at rules and finding ways to go around them, ignoring them or sticking them under the rug. I live in New Mexico for Heaven’s sake so it’s not unusual for UFO”s and Aliens to come into our living rooms either through the TV or through the walls. Imagine dancing with Aliens not only on the brain but being advertized along with your dancing. That’s not hard if you get the chance to dance at the annual Roswell UFO Convention. Funny how it all somehow goes together…at least here.

Women go through great lengths to make themselves more attractive and more noticeable so they can gain a bit more advantage and this can be in any area of life. So what’s the advantage women seek in our dance world? Is it the total package of a great figure, good dancing and marketing? Is it good dancing, lady luck and dancing everywhere you can? Is it leading people to think you are famous, dancing well enough to get away with it and always talking about yourself? Is it researching and being knowledgeable in our dance field and finding a specific role to act out through out your career? So tell me what the advantage is because at this point I see women who have made it for all the reasons I just mentioned, perhaps not in the specific orders but some of them actually closer then one would think.

Persevering isn’t for the meek hearted especially in our business because if I was meek hearted I probably would have gotten out years ago after hearing my first insulting remark. We have all dealt with those dancers (never us) who will be the first ones to tell us what we did wrong, state that we’ll do better next time and then look at us with those humiliating smiles. They almost remind me of those little dinosaurs walking around ready to take bites out of dancers making sure they keep them alive for their next meal. I have always wondered if they end up looking like dinosaurs as they get older…it’s not a mean question but one that I have always wondered about. I definitely have decided that as I grow older that I want to be like the women I admire, Georgia O’Keefe, Martha Graham, Ruth St. Denis and Maria Benitez; solid like rocks and never apologizing for living life their way. The path of a powerful woman is always noticeable by the way she tends to the insignificant things around her because that which is not addressed always ends up being a huge crack in the road of life. Ever stepped into a hole, tripped over a rock or forged ahead thinking you were on level ground only to find out the hard way you weren’t? Life teaches us what to look for, the signs to guide us safely and the experience to know where to place our steps. Sometimes those behind us can follow but it seems to be more likely than not that a dancer’s fate is to create her own way in dance by dancing to her own tune.

All of this being said I have changed a few things in my life. I am walking a path that is unknown to me now and the best part is not knowing what’s around the bend and that is totally exciting. My writing might go into other areas and my creative ideas are also venturing out past belly dance.  I’m walking into the sunset and enjoying the warmth of knowing that I’m finally going in a direction that feels good. I still appeal to my moonlight mother for advice but for the most part I feel good that I just didn’t persevere but that I made a life with dance, the straight line curved which made my dance path an unlikely journey of insanity, laughter, the divine unrest of my youth and the definitive expression of my inner joy. It’s not how long we do something that matters but the walk of our dance and the integrity in which we lived our lives.

Follow your dreams and create your bliss on stage each and every time you dance. In the end of the day if you don’t follow your bliss, you’ll always dance knowing that one performance got away from you. Opinions in dance can range from biased opinions or fair-minded suggestions but the trick is to know what you are hearing is true to your course in dance. Sometimes learning and growing in this dance has nothing to do with what’s on the outside but what’s on the inside. One thing that I have realized is that if any person I worked with had an agenda, it would eventually come out in the end because agenda’s are based on the mental awareness and desires of each individual that they encompass. Perhaps agenda’s are more of a human trait and they are more obvious with dancers. However, at this point in my dance career, I’m only willing to hang with dancers who tend to their path of creativity and enjoy where they have come from to such a degree that they are a body, mind and spirit presence in each day instead of tending to future goals. Goals are inspiring tools to get us to focus on end results. Goals can become infinite and I have realized that at this point in my career I just want to hang with dancers who don’t have anything more to prove. The philosophy of dancing just because is the best reward any dancer can receive or attain to receive.  It’s a sign of contentment and resolving habits that no longer serve a purpose because at a certain point in life, you have to figure out if you are a straight line or if you are a straight line curved. It’s all in the eye of the beholder, the artist herself.

Next blog post will be about my two books and the future of Hip Phylosophy.

Remember to check out my websites:  www.bellydancvillage.com and www.leyla-najma.com

 

 

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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”

Comments

4 Responses to “Dance, A Straight Line Curved”
  1. Susan says:

    Thank you for sharing your wisdom. As we move along our journey, the farther along we get, we can look back at the stages and phases we went through as dancers, and as humans. While some are still experiencing what we already know, and we are looking forward to letting go of what used to be important to us, we trust that everything is perfect just the way it is, has been, and always will be. You do have an interesting journey and story to tell Leyla, so thank you again for sharing:)

    • Leyla Najma says:

      Thank you Susan for your comment!
      Most of my friends who have been in this business for years all have wonderful stories to tell and we all talk about what the good old days were like. I think for most dancers their dance experiences become great memories. In many ways the memories are the treasures and the end results of amazing lives. Just imagine if we all sat around a campfire and shared stories…what fun that would be!

      Big Hugs,

      Leyla

  2. Allison says:

    Leyla,

    You have once again hit the nail on the head!! Over the last 5 years I have had a huge learning experience not just who I am but also about others. I agree what used to be important to me when I first started out on my dance path is no longer important. All the disappointments, uphill battles, joys, laughter, tears, successes & failures have become a part of myself and my path and even though at the time I would ask why do I have to go through this? I have learned that it was part of my learning experience and without that experience I would not be the same person that I am today. I can remember when I first started Belly Dancing I wanted to be like and dance like other dancers who I admired. Realizing, years later as I came into my own I realized that there is only one me and my movements are my own. It was like a light bulb moment and I realized that after I stopped trying to be someone else and set out on my own path and journey with my own ideas and movements I would then only be happy. Just recently, I had another dancer say to me after my performance “you dance with so much joy.” It used to bother me if others did not like my dancing or that I was not the best. But you know what? I don’t care anymore. What I care about is the fact that I love what I am doing. I love sharing my dancing with others and my journey. I do not care about other peoples opinions because it is just that their opinion. What matters is how I feel about myself that is what counts. I have finally realized that I do not have to prove myself to anyone and it is a really liberating feeling!

    Leyla, thank you for sharing and being open and honest!! I know your new path is going to be an exciting one!

    Hugs!!
    Allison

    • Leyla Najma says:

      Thank you Allison for commenting in!

      Our dance journey is all about change and that in some ways is the best part of our dance field. It’s great when we can see where we have come from and get to the point to when we become solid in our dance philosophy and dance style…that’s really when our dancing takes off! Good luck on all that you are doing and congratulations on your book!!!

      Hugs,

      Leyla