Deciding to dance for three weekends in a row seemed like a good idea at the time. Never one to be given the opportunity to “Put on a show” and to dance more that is what I did. Naturally there were highs and lows of such a mad dance schedule whilst running a home, working and being a Mum. The last two weekends was spent in London dancing with Sara Farouk. Being part of “Sara’s Last stand” for me was not without its’ challenges but I enjoyed putting on the makeup and sequins and doing a turn in my old haunt Hackney. I loved dancing , being back in Hackney where I lived for so many years and catching up with old friends and making new ones but it did indeed cost me an absolute fortune and got me thinking about value for my money and my time.
As an event organiser I love creating dance events for folk. Organising something that is close to home allows many women who cannot travel to access a little bit of the fun and study that I have had the opportunity to do by travelling around the UK. It becomes affordable, value for money and achievable for local dancers. It also means I am able to support good quality teaching and dancers I believe have a lot to offer the dance community. Therefore I need to clarify when I mean value for money I am not costing out how much individual teachers cost , or cost of workshop is or indeed saying stuff is too expensive but more about reflecting on how to be more discerning about what I choose to spend my dance money and time on.
Having been belly dancing now for about fifteen years and teaching for over eight years I feel I am one of the “old girls on the belly dancing block” and have indeed in this time watched lots of folk shimmy and go! Most of us who have been around this long remember how few events and belly experiences there were back in the nineties and early noughties. With no internet, iTunes or YouTube music was shared by tape and events by fliers and we watched videos! These days it seems by looking at Facebook you could be away every weekend dancing. Infact where I live I could probably travel to an event every weekend!
If I added up how much money I had spent on dancing over the years it would probably come to thousands of pounds. The opportunity to dance and study more and indeed to spend time with like-minded dancers means I am often at events dancing away. But you know what? I am getting belly weary! I can hear myself thinking at yet another workshop “I know this; I have done this before”, or becoming bored and drifting off. As an older dancer my progression to the next “shiny” professional level is not going to happen so I am feeling in a rut as an older experienced dancer. I may not be Randa but over these fifteen years as an intelligent woman I would like to think that my skills, knowledge and experience in belly dance have grown. I certainly see that in my friends and contemporaries.
It strikes me I and possibly others are between the shimmy and the belly roll. We’re not deemed experienced enough to be one of the Grand dames of dance world, and not nearly as sexy or indeed young enough to be part of the new world. Only close dance friends have any recognition of the hours dedication and indeed thoughtfulness and integrity I apply to my dance. I came like many western women to belly dance as it made me feel visible as a woman. Yet these days I am increasingly feeling invisible as a dancer and beginning to wonder if I am only seen as a regular punter who is happy to pay a few quid?
Returning to last weekend. Side-lined in the group dances which meant little challenge for me as a dancer or performer my perspective was to take all that I got from a fantastic private lesson from Sara and work on my solo dance. So for three and half minutes last Sunday in a community centre in east London I did feel visible as a woman, my skill, knowledge and integrity as a dancer appreciated by the audience. So perhaps these last two weekends was worth the money and time?
Looking at my bank balance I need to stop spending money! No let me rephrase that. I need to be more discerning about what I choose to spend my dance money and time on. My passion for dancing often has me leaping in with my cheque book. Generally a happy punter I will pay, turn up, dance, smile, hang out and spend more money. It ends up being a bit win some /lose some and these days my passion ends up with me losing more than I gain. I am now going to stop and think “What is in it for me?”
So here is my new criteria for dance events and my value for my time and my money:
It has to be yes to at least one of these:
– Is it going to be fun and give me joy?
– Will it fulfil my creative yearnings?
– Will it give me a new skill or knowledge that I could not find elsewhere?
– Will I feel visible as a woman and dancer?
– Can I really afford it?
Then I shall consider:
– Could I create the same /similar experience elsewhere for less time and/or money?
On a positive note I can already think of some events which would always give a loud Yes from me!
It will be interesting to see how I get on!
Off now to dance for free in my conservatory