Making Money Off of Dance = Less Love?

by Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Sometimes I feel a little upset when people imply that because I dance as my vocation, that somehow I don't do it for the love of it. My personal take on it is that I love it SO MUCH that I rearranged my entire life, gave up a sizable income I used to make in more lucrative jobs, and passionately commit my energies to being a more knowledgable dancer, a better teacher, and a professional and polished performer. That isn't to say that those who don't follow my same path don't love it as much as I do--the stars aligned such that I could devote my life to it as I do--but conversely it doesn't mean I only do this for the money or for what it "gets" me.

So I think it is unfair for either side to accuse the other of lack of love driving their decisions in what is or is not appropriate to be termed bellydance. But I strongly believe that lack of experience, a lack of empathy, and/or a dose of ignorance can combine to create a dancer who is unable to appreciate why people fight so hard to define bellydance, tribal bellydance, etc; and why these same dancers eschew the idea of boundaries and responsibilities which the name "bellydancer" encompasses.

I feel blessed to get to have dance be my primary focus in my life. I thank Paulette throughout the year for "giving me my life", because she is the one who so inspired me to pursue dance as a profession through teaching. It was by taking workshops with her, and watching her example of integrity and community-building, that I found what I wanted to do with my life. I knew I wanted to build up a community through the dance as she did. I wanted to help other dancers with a call to tribal bellydance find their place in the dance more easily than I did (there was no tribal teachers in Seattle when I started learning, and I wanted to change that for my city). I have spent thousands of dollars and thousands of hours over the years traveling, studying, researching, practicing, and developing into the dancer and teacher I am today. And I have soooo much more yet to do. I will never stop learning. But all of these efforts paint the picture of someone who does it for the love. Because God knows I have spent more on the dance than I have gotten back monetarily, but what I have gotten spiritually, mentally, and physically from it is immeasurable. It is for that often intangible reward that I press on day after day, year after year, to be the best I can be; for both myself and for the students who put their trust in me.

I never got into bellydance for the money, I didn't make a career of it for the money, and I still don't make a livable wage off of it, at least not the life that I live right now (my hubby pays the mortgage, my friends). I fell in love with it, just like so many others who pursue it, whether they be hobbyist or pro. And my love affair grew and become more and more consuming of my being, just like so many others. Just because I was motivated and empowered to make it my career doesn't mean any of that has diminished. And in many ways, I think we who do it for a living have to fight the hardest to keep the love alive--when all you have is fun in the dance, it's easy to love it. It's harder to stay in love when it's real *work*! When it is your career, it's easy to become exhausted, throw up your hands, and give up when you have so many business details that can muddy the simple joy of it. The fact that we pros stick around, participate in the community, give our opinions, listen to others, share our knowledge, and continue to be passionate about what we do, rather than become jaded and blase about all the details of the art, speaks to our love for it.

So the next time you hear someone imply that pros don't do it for the love, send them over here. Let them have a chance to reconsider what they are saying, and appreciate what it means to make your avocation your vocation.

Wise advice: Let It Go

by Monday, April 19, 2010

Gibson Pearl posted this today, and I thought it was beautiful.

This is something I found long ago...I modified it a touch. Maybe it's something you need to hear right now. Maybe you know someone who needs to hear it. In any case...


There are people who can walk away from you. And hear me when I tell you this:

When people can walk away from you, let them walk.

Don’t try to talk another person into staying with you, loving you, calling you, caring about you, coming to see you, staying attached to you. I mean hang up the phone. When people can walk away from you let them walk. Your destiny is never tied to anybody that left.

People leave you because they are not joined to you. And if they are not joined to you, you can't make them stay. Let them go. It doesn't mean that they are bad people; it just means that their part in the story is over. And you've got to know when people's part in your story is over so that you don't keep trying to raise the dead.

You've got to know when it's dead. You've got to know when it's over. Embrace the gift of good-bye.

If you are holding on to something that doesn't belong to you and was never intended for your life, then you need to LET IT GO.

If you are holding on to past hurts and pains...LET IT GO.

If someone can't treat you right, love you back, and see your worth...LET IT GO.

If you are holding on to some thoughts of evil and revenge...LET IT GO.

If you are involved in a wrong relationship or addiction...LET IT GO.

If you are holding on to a job that no longer meets your needs or talents…LET IT GO.

If you have a bad attitude...LET IT GO.

If you keep judging others to make yourself feel better...LET IT GO.

If you are struggling with the healing of a broken relationship...LET IT GO.

If you keep trying to help someone who won't even try to help themselves…LET IT GO.

Let the past be the past. Forget the former things. New life is today.

The Perfect Storm: Two Big Things, One Long Week

by Tuesday, April 13, 2010
My online family has been concerned over my recent spate of obviously bereft emotional postings on Facebook, and I haven't been able to share too much. I am sorry to have to have been so cryptic and distant, but it's all news that needed the right time to be shared. Beyond the cut is more than you might even want to dive into, but if you're interested in what's been up in my world (and I assume that is why you are all here), here's the scoop, in three parts:


Last week, my dear Mother-In-Law was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Now, if you knew Pat at all, you would know that there is probably not a single other person on the planet who deserves such awful news *less* than she does (not that anyone deserves it, but ya know what I mean...). She is the most incredibly giving, generous, unconditional-loving person I have had the pleasure to know. And she gave me my awesome best friend/husband, having passed so many of her incredible qualities on to my life partner, and his sweet younger sister. As a single Mom for most of their lives, she struggled mightily at times to keep body and soul together, but with her family's love, faith in God, tenacious spirit, and refusal to go down easy whenever any difficulty comes her way, she is in so many ways an inspiration to those around her. So this news, in a nutshell: Fucking. Sucks. But we're counting on Pat's tenacious spirit and faith to come through again throughout what lies ahead.

Her prognosis is actually stronger than many others who have faced this form of cancer. You can read "What you NEED to know about pancreatic cancer" on my friend Michelle's note here: Her mother passed away from this cancer recently, and she was a primary care provider for her Mom during her fight, so she has a lot of firsthand information and insight on the topic. You may not be able to read it unless you are friended with Michelle, so if enough people are interested, I will get Michelle's permission to post it here or something public where others can read what she has to say. The statistics are not great, but it doesn't deter us from focusing all of our thoughts toward a positive outcome.

Pat starts chemo within the week, and we are not just engaging capable doctors and nurses, but also invoking the power of prayer and positive energies to help support Pat and her loved ones in what will be a difficult time ahead. Please add yours to the collection if you would.

More news as it becomes available...

All good things must come to an end, and as trite a statement as that may read, it is also true for inFusion Tribal Bellydance. A lot has changed in the eight years since the troupe was founded, full of growth, personal evolutions, and creative discoveries. It has been an exciting, and even life-changing, ride for all of us. But the time has come to explore new opportunities and challenges; and while our hearts are heavy at the thought of no longer being a part of this incredible collective we have been blessed to forge together, it is with continued undeniable love and support of one another that we each move in new directions.

The final appearance of inFusion Tribal will be at the World Rhythm Festival at the Seattle Center at the end of April--Sharon will be teaching a workshop on Saturday April 24th at 11am in the Center House - 4th Floor, Room H (with "vintage" t-shirts and hoodies for sale!); and most of the troupe members will be performing on Sunday the 25th at 1pm on the Mural Stage. As for myself, Cues & Tattoos was an incredibly fun and rewarding performance, and I have chosen to mark it as my final performance as a member of inFusion.

We are so grateful for all the support and enthusiasm our friends and fans have shown us over the years. To add another trite-but-true statement, it really would not have been the same without you. Your positive energies flowing so generously toward us, on and offstage, has been a huge part of who we are and what we were able to create, and we are infinitely thankful. Performing for you has been a privilege, and has created lasting joyful memories for all of us.

Take heart, this is surely not the last you will see of all of us!! Sharon's classes and workshops will continue (though there will be a planned break in May due to vacation travel and Memorial Day building closures), and the student troupe, Nomaditude, will be continuing to dance at events throughout the year. Renee will soon be back teaching yoga, and plans to resume teaching dance classes in the fall. Keep an eye on our website and Facebook Fan Page to keep up-to-date with inFusion's former members, so you can continue to support each of them in their new ventures, wherever their path leads them.

Thank you again, from the bottom of our hearts, for a fantastic eight years.

As I said in the announcement above, my classes and workshops will continue as they always have, as will Nomaditude. Beyond that, with all that is coming together in a perfect storm for me right now, my immediate focus is on taking some time to self-nurture, refresh and refill the emotional and creative well, and soak up the positive ju-ju that the world has to offer. But as a lifetime lover o' the stage, you can bet that it won't be too long before I will be concocting something new for all my tribal-lovin' friends and fans out there. Keep your eyes peeled for the next incarnation of my creative energies.

I am incredibly grateful for this extended family the dance has brought me--all your loving words of support and encouragement have been beacons, and I feel wholly blessed. All my love to you.

An April Horoscope

by Sunday, April 11, 2010
A good friend sent me this today, saying it reminded her of what I am dealing with now. Woah!

"April promises to be a month of transformation. Several significant planetary transitions occur, challenging us to find novel recipes to make use of their nourishment. One of the key features of the month is the opportunity to reconsider past decisions and rewrite our history or reframe the latest new chapter of our lives. Sometimes we need a do-over.

If you didn’t get all your clearing out and organizing done while Saturn was in Virgo, you’ll get another shot at it when Saturn goes back into Virgo on April 6. Since October 29, we’ve been experiencing the latest directive from Saturn—get your relationships in order. Now we get to go back and rework what was left over from the previous two years. Even though you may already know what Saturn in Libra is bringing to you, chances are good that you have some serious Virgo work to complete. This is essential groundwork for your next great plan in life. If it gives us a sense of relief to have this “extra time,” it also takes us back to unresolved dilemmas leftover from 2008-09.

These dilemmas will involve the Saturn-Uranus opposition that we have been learning through since mid-2008, with previous peak dates of November 4, 2008, February 5, 2009, and September 5, 2009. We still have two more contacts to go, one of them on April 26 at 29 Virgo/Pisces. By now, we should have at least gotten used to whatever issues these planets brought out in our lives. An odd combination of structure and freedom is beginning to emerge, perhaps in a startling form. It isn’t over yet, but we have more insight than we had before about how to find our way through the maze...."

iPod Touch worth it?

by Saturday, April 03, 2010
Today a student of mine asked about iPod Touch on her FB, and it got me thinking about my Touch I got for Christmas and how it has been working out for me in the intervening months. I wrote her a lengthy reply, and thought I would share it here. I know a lot of my fellow dancers and teachers use iPods extensively, and might benefit from hearing my experience.

Q. My ancient ipod classic is on its last legs. Anybody have an ipod touch? Thoughts? Why would I get one of those v. another classic?

I have owned three iPods--a Classic 20 Gig, Nano 2nd Gen 4 Gig, and Nano 4th Gen 8 Gig. I hardly ever used my (old, heavy, clunky) Classic 20 Gig to its fullest capacity because it was so hard to scroll through so much music. The click-wheel is truly an incredible innovation, but it has its limits. 20 Gigs was TOO MUCH music, and the interface being limited on purpose for simplicity made it cumbersome to use at that size. Then my 4 and 8 gigs weren't enough. The 4 because it was way too small to keep all my class and troupe music on and still have anything left over for my own listening pleasure, and the 8 because that now had a color screen and was also storing album art, the occasional movie, etc. But even at 8, despite some innovations in the interface software, I was starting to get that old familiar irritation of having a limited interface for a lot of data.

Enter the iTouch. I got the largest version, because I wanted to be able to use all its features without having to choose what can and can't fit--I wanted all my dance music, plus some music for myself, and some videos. So far I have barely scratched the surface of its capacity, and though I am glad I made the choice to get a large capacity one, most people can probably get away with the mid-range for uses like mine.

As for the interface, it is just as intuitive as the other iPods, but with even more robust navigation options for accessing and working with your data. Though I have more music on it than my other iPods, I can get to it all faster. I can edit on the go playlists without having to start from scratch. When browsing lists, I can skip to a letter of the alphabet without scrolling interminably to get there. I can switch from Album to Artist without going back-back-forward, I just click on an icon at the bottom of the screen. Things just move a little faster, smoother, easier. Also a lot easier to read and see the body of information displayed thanks to a nice big screen.

Plus I have a calendar that interfaces with my Google Calendar, and updates whenever I am near an open WiFi connection (which I am a lot). I have a weight/calorie tracker to help with my diet efforts. Last night pulled up my program, plugged it into our stereo, and played a Sneakerpimps-inspired playlist for a party. I ripped a copy of my favorite bellydance video to have on hand for reference of basic movement verbiage used in teaching. I can take a quick note for later reference--the virtual keyboard on these are shockingly easy to use. I have a few games to pass the time when waiting for appointments, or to pass to a friend's child to amuse them while we chat over tea (yes, I have some toddler-specific games for just that purpose ;). The list goes on.

I wish I could have an iPhone, but I won't switch to AT&T (too many friends who have been unhappy). I would love to be able to use 4G and not have to be near WiFi anytime I want to access the net (though I have a G1 phone for that), and I would love a camera in it. But those are my only complaints. I think the iTouch is really handy for my uses. Food for thought.

Cues & Tattoos: truly a labor of love

by Thursday, April 01, 2010

This past weekend on the Seattle Center campus was the Cues & Tattoos festival, hosted by Troupe Hipnotica, and is the braindchild of Adriene Rice and Julia Demarest. It focuses on stylistic variations which are rooted in the original American Tribal Style concept of group improvisational dance. With the mass proliferation of all things being called "tribal" these days, the beautiful and dynamic art of group improv was being buried and misunderstood. Adriene and Julia saw a need and they have met it beautifully for three years in a row--much to my delight, right here in my own back yard in Seattle--with Cues & Tattoos.

The time and organization it takes to host a festival is enormous--take a local hafla and explode it about a thousandfold! These ladies, with the help of their fellow troupe-mates and other volunteer staff, have turned this labor of love into a festival to rival many more established festivals in the community. And it promises to just keep getting better.

As if seeking out some of the best instructors and performers the art form has to offer, flying them here, taking care of them, and providing space for them to share their knowledge and wisdom isn't enough, the festival also offers two unique evenings of performance, and a roomful of drool-worthy vendors. The event runs smoothly and professionally, with very little left to be desired (Afterparty! Better signage at workshops?).

I have been blessed with the opportunity to teach and perform all three festival years and have seen the thoughtful way these ladies have continued to recognize areas which need attention, and by the next year have adapted and improved upon what they had done before. Though surely overwhelmed with all the daily demands of the event (plus teaching their own workshops, plus performing themselves!), they always appear calm and collected, and make time to really see and hear their guests and meet their needs. Case-and-point: when I jammed up to her table breathlessly but urgently blurting out, "This isn't their music!!" as my student troupe was taking the stage to the wrong soundtrack, Adriene displayed calm and good humor while we fixed the situation. Her willingness to just smile and make adjustments is an example of the level of professionalism and composure that permeated the event.

For years I have spent thousands of dollars to travel thousands of collected miles to try and study with these incredible instructors in other cities and at other festivals. This weekend, I had the pleasure of meeting people who had flown here to the Northwest from a half-dozen other states--from as far as Florida!--to do the same. And I and my troupe-mates and students for once had only to drive twenty minutes to be in a room studying with the likes of Carolena Nericcio of FatChance in California, and Sahira and Zymirrah of Urabn Gypsy in Texas, among many other admirable masters of tribal bellydance. The Seattle bellydance community should be thankful and proud of what these women have brought to our doorstep, and we should endeavor to support them in their efforts so it can continue well into the future. I look forward to seeing how the event grows and adapts over the years to meet the needs of the community it reaches out to. Many thanks, Adriene, Julia, and Troupe Hipnotica, for all your hard work and organization, bringing us yet another stellar year.

Did you attend C&T 2010 and have feedback for Adriene and Julia for future years? Want to share something you really loved about it? Something you feel could be improved or added? Suggestions for teachers or workshop topics? Questions about next year? Contact them at They want to hear from you!


On this blog I share my personal posts about cooking and knitting, travel and other musings; while I will blog about dance-specific topics over on the Deep Roots Dance blog:

I hope you will enjoy both my sites. Thanks for visiting!
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