I’ve added a new class to my Powhow Online Bellydance Studio roster! It’s “Rhythm Roots: Drum Solo Technique” and meets every Sunday @2pm.
To register, go here: http://www.powhow.com/classes/katya-faris
Here’ s a cute video of me dancing with Arturo’s daughter on Saturday! We had so much fun, she was so precious!!
I’ve created a Facebook Event Page for my online dance classes through Powhow, check it out! :)
Recently there was a blog post by a customer that frequents a Greek restaurant in St. Louis who wrote a snarky commentary about not knowing how to watch a bellydancer, and it offended many bellydancers online. I also have lost a gig this weekend, because the client was afraid their conservative guests would be offended by my dancing. We often get compared to strippers, and while I am not commenting that stripping isn’t real dancing, the point I would like to make is that we have a different job than they do, and our dance is completely different. Apples and oranges.
Bellydance is a dance that the whole family can watch!
Bellydancers are NOT strippers, thank you.
Here is the blog post that is in question by Lisa Newlin: http://lisanewlin.com/2013/04/whats-the-proper-etiquette-for-a-belly-dancer-at-dinner/
“Mass Media, Mass Stereotypes”: http://www.shira.net/about/media-stereotypes.htm
“Isn’t That Like Stripping?” http://www.shira.net/likestrip.htm
“A Dance for the Whole Family”: http://www.shira.net/whole-family.htm
I am going to wax philosophical for a moment, after reflecting upon my awesome students that attended my workshops at the University of Illinois yesterday. I was so impressed with how well they all did, it was a breakthrough moment for me as a teacher, because I saw women do things that they didn’t think they could do! We did some serious mental gymnastics with that choreography, and it was the first time for many of them to try a real oriental dance piece. They did just awesomely, and I couldn’t be prouder!!! :D
It got me to thinking about teaching styles, and also learning styles. When I graduated with my undergrad degree I got a job immediately teaching English Conversation in Pusan, South Korea. While the whole trip was quite difficult, quite an adventure, I almost felt like Biboa Baggins in The Hobbit and just wanted to go home. I was a stranger in a strange land, completely out of place. I even had dyed red hair that I did myself with henna, which made me stick out like a sore thumb. I had to learn to surrender my ego to the process so I could learn from my trip. My students there saved me, though!! You see, in Asia teachers are respected, unlike in the West. Yes, we may give lip service to saying they are respected, but it is NOTHING like in Asia. My students took me all over Korea, and treated me like a queen; never allowed me to pay for anything, and their hospitality was boundless. They also were great learners; they just KNEW how to learn. It is no big secret that schools in Asia are quite strict, and the work load quite unbearable sometimes. Most find a way through it, though. What I discovered about them was their ability to surrender their ego to the process and to the teacher, and to have humility and respect. It seemed that respect didn’t need to be “earned” for their teacher, they automatically gave it, because to hold the position of teacher means something in their culture. It means the teacher has suffered and sacrificed, and given up the hopes of becoming wealthy and powerful in society, among other things. But they seem to intuitively understand that in order to learn, they must trust and make a space empty in their heart, mind and soul for the teacher to fill.
Now, I am American, and I have been in school a long time, so I’ve noticed a thing or two. I also have been teaching Middle Eastern dance since 1995, and I have noticed a few things about American dance students. We have a very hard time surrendering our ego to the process and to the teacher, just as I had a hard time adjusting in Korea. It seems we think we know everything! We often disrespect our teachers when we don’t get our way with them. I’ve even had a dance student of mine attend a bellydance convention and proceed to gossip behind my back and purposefully try to keep me from being asked back, and then guess what? She was able to teach there the next year, when she had only been studying and performing for a few years. It is the “unwritten rule” of dance that a performer should perform for ten years before being allowed to teach with some exceptions, but this lady never bothered to ask, because she knows everything already, apparently! Now, I certainly didn’t follow this rule, as I started teaching after five years. I felt like it was time, however, because I had so many requests, and I went back to my original teacher and had her train me to teach. I also never pretended to be anything but a beginning technique instructor, and never put on airs of being anything else. Also, a student is not allowed to perform with a new troupe for at least six months until she is accustomed to the technique of the teacher. It is also a way to respect the members of the company who have been working on pieces already. It was very obvious that she was trying to use me to take from me what she thought was hers, the opportunity to perform in the show at the convention. When she couldn’t get her way with me, she sent her best friend after me to try to destroy me, and she ruined the atmosphere at a local restaurant that I danced at, and harrassed the owner to the point that he wanted nothing to do with bellydance anymore, taking a potential job away from not only herself, but me included. Now, I’ve had worthy formidable opponents before, but this lady is unscrupulous and obsessed with me to the point where she will stop at nothing to try to take revenge upon me for “holding her back”. This person really needs to look in the mirror; she is holding herself back with the venomous behavior and words that she spews about me, because everything you do comes back to you three times. It is the psychic physics law of the Universe. This is not uncommon in business, and especially the entertainment business, but the bellydance world has an illusion of “community” that is not really there. I often keep my distance from these so-called “dance communities”, because of the toxicity of frenemies. I know who my real friends are, and they’re not my competitors.
I know what it feels like to have a poisonous teacher who hates you. I know what it feels like to have someone hold you back on purpose, because they simply don’t like you. But there is a huge difference between holding someone back, and making them prove their worthiness. Remember that funny scene from Sex and the City where Charlotte wants to become Jewish so badly for her fiance, and she goes to the synagogue and the Rabbi rejects her twice before he finally will hear her out? It’s like that. You have to prove that you are SINCERE in order to receive the divine WISDOM of dance. I simply do not have the time to “cast pearls before swine”, and neither would I disrespect the teachings of our dance that way. There is an Arabic word, صدق “sidq”, which translates loosely as “sincerity”. This means “emotional sincerity”, and is the hallmark of an authentic performer. Being a traditional authentic dancer means that you are “emotionally authentic” to yourself, and not just the cultural traditions; it means that you’re not faking it. Without humility we cannot be sincere. Without sincerity we cannot be “authentic”, despite being born Middle Eastern, or having a priviledged front row seat to the culture. I’ve seen Arabic bellydancers that were as phony as plastic, but yet they thought they were authentic simply because of their blood line, and I’ve seen non-Arabic dancers with so much feeling that you could have cared less where their blood line was from.
What it boils down to is changing our attitude from one of “entitlement” to one of “gratitude”. No one owes you anything, and no one “has” to teach you. You have to earn it. As they say in the ballet world, “performing is not a ‘right’, it is a priviledge”; I would add “and learning” to that statement. I encourage all American bellydancers to take a look at your Asian sisters in the dance, and watch how they behave in class and with their teachers. While jealousy, deceit and back-stabbing are not unknown in Asia or with Asian women, there seems to be an agreed upon truce when class starts. They have a culture of learning that I hope one day will be prevalent in our “community”. As the saying goes, “If your ego is not your amigo, and if your attitude is not one of gratitude, then you know it stinks.”
Many good things are growing and new leaves are sprouting in my bellydance life! And no, this is not an April Fool’s post, lol. No joking around here!
I can’t wait to share with you the good news, but you must be patient I have a lot of new projects to be grateful for, and I’m so glad that all my hard work is finally coming to fruition!! I got this email quote today in my inbox from The Secret, and I thought I would share with you, as it’s very easy to blame others for a lack of opportunities in your life, but if you work hard and be patient, the Goddess will bless you with abundance. Steal from her daughters, and you will suffer, even if you are one of her daughters. Blessed Be, and Dream Your Dream!!!
Dear friends, my sister in the dance, Paola Blanton, www.paolablanton.com, needs your urgent help. She lives in the rain forest of Brazil near the coast and Sao Paolo; they have been hit by devastating floods, and her house has been all but destroyed. She is living on the second floor, but everything on the first floor has been demolished and swept away, plus her car. She has started a GoFundMe drive, and desperately needs your help. Please go to her link below. Thanks!!!
Hey dancers, I’m now offering video editing services to make demos, or whatever editing you need help with for your dance business! All examples of my work can be seen on my Youtube page, www.youtube.com/katyafaris; I edited everything except for the first eleven (the oldest ones). Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested!! Thanks!!