Waking Persephone: A Sign of Bellydance Events to Come?
When I started taking Bellydance classes in 2004, every class was packed, even in rural Placerville. Shakira was really hitting the pop music scene, Dolphina had been on Sex and the City, and Stella Soleil had sampled Tarkan's "Simarik" aka "Kiss Kiss". These things had people in my friends circle talking and in many ways they are part of what got us into a class. Yes, I admit to borrowing the Dolphina DVDs, however I got to a class ASAP as it was too "fluffy" for my sensibilities at the time.
YouTube was also becoming a thing and a few dancers had videos posted. It was the first I'd ever seen Rachel Brice, her video at a very early Tribal Fest. I decided I wanted to attend that event, I did a year later. I was still a newbie and flitted around the outside of the community, yet I was in love. I was a good consumer and wanted to learn it all. I still want to learn it all. And my criteria for attending events has changed.
Years later, I'm an instructor and a perpetual student (occupational hazard). Things have shifted for me. I don't want the same technique workshops by the same instructors who are headlining all the events. I also want the unique perspectives of those newer to the teaching circuit who use "real life" for their inspiration. I want the soul of the art and to puzzle out how I can apply these concepts to my dance/life practice. I want out of my comfort zone, get shaken up, rattled around and given the opportunity to share my skills and talent. Rather than just giving to a huge event where folks rarely interact with those outside their sphere.
This brings me to a dance community experience I've been a part of for two years, Waking Persephone. It's an interdisciplinary community gathering that is striving to bridge the gap between students who desire more education and instructors who think outside the box. It's not an event where you attend a workshop and then hide in your hotel room. You could but you would miss the fantastically quirky, geeky, honest people who do silly things like Improv Roulette or sit down and talk about how to be less of a spectator in their dance community.
The dance community as a whole can't survive with just spectators or consumers who last a season or two. It needs everyone. It needs me and it needs you. It needs us to examine what it is we want, why we want it, be honest, be authentic, and show up in every way (when we can).
The styles of Bellydance may be differentiated, the community doesn't need to be. After seeing it in action, I really believe this can happen.