Politically Correct

Belly Dancer Leyla Najma in the Southwest

Sometimes in our daily lives, we don’t always want to be politically correct or play nice. We can become alittle exorcisty and being politically correct is the farthest thing from our minds,  at least for that particular moment. We can excuse ourselves by saying, I’m in a full blown PMS state of mind or it’s the weather and a good one that I like to use is, I woke up feeling an impending event is going to happen. I prefer this last one, because people can’t really say your bonkers, well…at least not to your face. The question here, is what do entertainers do when they get the blues? Have you ever walked into a dressing room full of women and felt that familiar vibe of anxiety and grumpiness mixed together, (aka) gloomy apprehension. Add in attitudes and preconceived ideas of strained relationships and voilah, you have the evil twin ready to make her academy award winning performance. Read more

The Politics of Belly Dance

The Politics of Belly Dance - Leyla Najma's Belly Dance Blog

Last night my daughter, Savanah and I were going through my dance magazines for a school project and I decided just for fun to reminisce and read the variety of different issues I’ve collected. As I was looking at photos and reading different articles and checking out past workshops, I notice that my heart rate went up and I became agitated……okay I turned into a grump!

It was so weird and I had to actually stop and do something else for awhile so I could relax and get back to my normal (devil) self…..this is only according to Daniel!

Anyways it really bugged me that I reacted this way and I decided to do some recapitulating which basically meant chew on my feelings for awhile before I decided to go  back to view my magazines again. It became increasingly clear to me why I was reacting the way I was and to be honest with you all, I thought that I was tootin and groovin along on my journey just fine and dandy with the past way behind me.

Being in the belly dance business for as long as I have and especially with it now being a family business has attracted the stark day to day reality of business as usual. This means “normalcy” occasionally wreaks havoc on my mental state and belly dance politics seeps in and makes itself at home. Remember the Buhz issue……..even from my little video room, drama has found her favorite corner lingering with a watchful eye.

Actually belly dance politics has made itself at home for many years and it ultimately always upstages any legit and positive idea regarding theatrical shows, workshops or staged events. So I know many of you might be wondering what is belly dance politics. First let’s look at the many ways to view the word politics so here are a few.

#1. The interrelationships between the people, groups, or organizations in a particular area of life especially insofar as they involve power and influence or conflict.

With this example it is clear that there is always influence coming into play with any type of venue because once you get a group of performers together, you start to see artistic rivalry. Small things matter which ultimately lead to big things and the end result is usually a purple people eating machine which changes the course of any show or theatrical production it comes into contact with. As a producer and director, sometimes I agreed to things out of necessity and then wanted to bang my head against the wall for agreeing to a change that didn’t feel good in my gut. The influence of the many is not always the right answer but sometimes it’s the easier perhaps least complicated way to go. As a producer or director always stick to your guns and pull them out if necessary to make sure the integrity of “your” artistic vision stays true to your divine inspiration! Otherwise your show will resemble a two headed baby that was not of your making plus you will usually be the one  stuck taking care of it with everyone else too busy or out of sight.

#2. The use of tactics and strategy to gain power in a group or organization.

Wow, where do I start with this one?!! This example is a given especially when you have too many chiefs and not enough Indians working on a show. If you get one of the chiefs mad, the backstabbing starts and behind the scene agendas take on a whole new level of hissing and spewing out problems besides the occasional claws. Ever heard of, “problem+reaction= solution?” This particular strategy is one to watch out for because your miffed chief will create a problem, react to it and then “they” bring in the solution. The only problem here is when you have someone constantly creating problems; they tend to forget the solution part of the equation.

#3. Political persuasions or beliefs.

This last example reminds me of a dancer I used to know who had her own way of persuading people to do things the way she felt they should be done. The only problem is she would lie to venue agents or sponsors giving them a perverse way of looking at other dancers. Of course I knew what she did but for some reason I didn’t call her on it. And as you might have guessed, one day she did me the voodoo dance and I was out of a job. Add insult to injury, a few weeks later another experience occurred with this dancer that made me realize there is no safety net with her. We were both dancing at a new restaurant and they were deciding on keeping only one of us. I had other jobs so I was on the fence post about it but deep down inside I really wanted to dance there.  The night I performed the crowded restaurant was full of people who knew me from other restaurants and yelled my name clapping and dancing while I performed my show. We all had a great time dancing and interacting with each other and the owners were thrilled people knew me and they hired me that night.

A few days later I received a phone call from them saying that something came up and at the moment they didn’t need me to dance. This was odd because they really seemed to like me. No drum roll please because I know you all know what happened. So I went to the restaurant the following weekend and guess who was dancing?!! The owners were embarrassed and came over to my table to let me know that they liked me but had heard that I was a very busy dancer and that I would occasionally come in late . They said they needed a dancer who could come in on time. My ho, hum attitude did an about face and I asked them to tell me where they heard this information. Just as they were going to answer me little Lolita came strolling over to say hello. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth came to my mind and I wanted to jump over the table and American woman her butt to the ground! I didn’t because the look on my face made her do an abrupt hello and good bye.  End of a long story…………I ended up dancing there only to have them close within 9 months. And little Lolita went on to other restaurants wreaking havoc with other dancers along the way or so I was told.

So moral of this story………when I finally looked at my feelings, I realized that as I was looking through those glorious magazine pages, I remembered different occasions and experiences when my belly dance fantasy turned into real life drama. Obviously they are opposite sides of the same coin at least for some of us. Good experiences or bad experiences, the way I look at it, I lived belly dance, experienced belly dance, learned from belly dance and today as I write this I still eat, breath and sleep belly dance. Even with my occasional heart rate going up, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am who I am because I am a belly dancer!