Belly dancing in rural areas

Florina

New member
Hello everyone!

I'm new here. Apologies if I haven't quite figured out yet how this chat forum works. There's a topic I would like to share with you. I'm not quite sure whether it's suitable for discussion in this forum but I hope to get a reply nonetheless. :)

A friend of mine moved from a city where she used to love taking Oriental Dance lessons to a rural area with hardly any such dance opportunities. She's already tried to get others interested in Oriental Dance and to find a group of people with whom she can share her passion. Unfortunately she's made the experience that there isn't much response?

What do you think could be the reasons for this? Should she keep on trying or invest her energy elsewehere? Have you ever made similar experiences? If so, how did you deal with it?

Thank you for your comments! :giggle:
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
Belly dance has not the draw it once did, having been replaced in the fickle affections of the public by other more trendy forms of exercise, or worse, by weird genres calling themselves belly dance and having no more resemblance to the real deal than eggs to stones. Belly dance enthusiasm comes in waves; I danced long enough to see several waves peak and recede. Right now, dance seems to be in a trench. In her situation, I danced alone until people began to get interested again.
 

Daimona

Moderator
Hi and welcome to our forum, Florina!

If your friend loves to dance, I would encourage her to keep on dancing.

If classes are hard to come by and travel budget/possibilities are limited, but internet connection is ok, how about investing in online lessons/skype tuition with personal feedback regularly or once in a while to keep evolving as a dancer?

How about exchanging music/dvd/movie tips and sharing knowledge to keep the flame warm? Or that the two of you have some regular dance inspiration meetings online? Just some cents from me...
 
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Tourbeau

Active member
There could be all kinds of reasons why your friend hasn't had much luck stirring up interest. In the absence of outside interest-drivers (like Shakira in the early 2000's), belly dance tends to make a lot of its own energy. New students often come from seeing existing students--walking by the class at the YMCA, seeing a group perform at a community festival, etc. It's easier to keep a community going than to start one, but as others have said, we're in a popularity low and existing BD communities are struggling everywhere.

As far as why she isn't getting much traction, I'd also suggest these possibilities: ignorance and piety. If you think belly dancing is only done by young, svelte, sexy, exotic beauties to seduce men, you're not going to assume it is something that nice people of all sizes and ages do as a fun, innocent social activity. Even in a modern world where everyone walks around with little devices that connect them to vast quantities of humanity's knowledge, plenty of people still have weird, misguided ideas about belly dance.

I would encourage your friend to keep looking for a teacher near her. Many times, teachers hide in plain sight, working out of home studios and recruiting by word of mouth, especially if they are older or prefer anonymity for some other reason. Part of the problem with the online dance community shifting to Facebook is that if you don't know how to access private pages, you'll never find them.

Has your friend tried searching sites for hiring dancers like GigMasters? You can't be too secretive if you are hoping to get party jobs, and many performers also teach. If nothing else, finding a performer nearby may connect her to someone with better knowledge of the area.

I would caution your friend to be realistic about her development as a dancer, and avoid drifting into a situation where, in an effort to build a dance community from scratch, she starts teaching her own classes before she is ready. I don't know how close she is to being ready to teach, but it can be problematic when someone who is still at a lower level lets their enthusiasm get the better of them, and their inexperience gets propagated to their students. A student who is solidly intermediate-level proficient and committed to continuing education sometimes can make the situation work, though.
 

Zorba

"The Veiled Male"
Good post from Tourbeau!

Belly Dance certainly is in one of its periodic nadirs, the worldwide monotheistic hegemony doesn't do it much good, and certainly "that site" (FB) hasn't done it any favors whatsoever. Tourbeau's suggestion regarding finding performers is a good one - also check any Greek/Mediterranean/Middle Eastern restaurants in your area to find other dancers.
 

Greek Bonfire

Well-known member
I found that when teachers and classes were scarce, you can always use instruction dvds. There are also some instructional videos on YouTube but not easy to find. Tourbeau gave excellent advice-skype is used more and more these days. And Shanazel is also correct in that bellydance comes in peaks and valleys, and right now, it's in the valley, but that doesn't mean you have to stop dancing, you have to dig a little deeper to find resources. Good luck!
 

Florina

New member
Dear all,

Thank you for your helpful replies!

My friend told me that a local gave her following piece of advice: there still appears to be a problem with people's mindset in rural areas as regards "anything different" introduced by people from elsewhere. How sad! :(

At least it's good to know that there are other PLACES to go, other PEOPLE to meet and other MINDSETS to appreciate. :) Saying this, I'm grateful for this platform to exist! (y)
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
I live in a rural area. My son lives in a rural area. A good number of friends and family live in rural areas, including former students. I'm sorry your friend isn't happy with the area where she lives, but kindly refrain from making sweeping and insulting statements.
 

LibraRaqs

Member
Okay, having spent most of my life in tiny-town rural
America (think of Lake Woebegone, or the town in the movie "Napoleon Dynamite"), I totally understand this! And the modern trends toward xenophobia in rural areas is doing nothing to help rural folks open up to new internationally influenced arts--especially anything with MENA associations. Add this with belly dance experiencing a "dry spell" in the National trend spotlight, and this makes a great recipe for: obstacle for rural bellydance artists!

I do have one idea, though. One artistic venue that some rural-based (nicer) people approve of, or have vague interest in, above others is: renaissance fairs. The same rural town I made reference to above had two Ren Faires in a 100-mile radius to pick from, and although this brings up a lot of questions about authenticity, styles available to pursue, and more, it may be none the less an option for your friend. Sadly, this would be working on a costume for a performance once a year several counties away, *if* that; this advice may not even be applicable due to proximity and availability of such a venue, but it's something.

Naturally, this is also thinking ahead to a world where the Corona virus has been dealt with and things go back to a new version of normal.
 

Ariadne

Well-known member
Well considering a Ren Fair during another dry spell is where I was introduced to BD your idea has merit. It will have to wait though as all the Fairs I know of were cancelled this year.
 

LibraRaqs

Member
Well considering a Ren Fair during another dry spell is where I was introduced to BD your idea has merit. It will have to wait though as all the Fairs I know of were cancelled this year.
Definitely, these ideas are for after life gets back to "normal"! But, if anything, now's the time to sit back and make plans...
 

Daimona

Moderator
Why not. I heard about Ren Faires (with BD performances) for the first time after joining this forum several moons ago (nope, they are not common in my area).
 
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