For many of you now in belly dance class, the annual recital is on the horizon. Or if not, your teacher may be providing other opportunities for you to perform. The “performance high” is very sweet indeed, and you can develop a taste for it quickly. After just a few experiences you may find your appetite increasing, so that you begin to look for more performance opportunities. It sounds rather like a drug doesn’t it? The accompanying release of body-mind chemicals like adrenalin and endorphins explains that–you CAN become addicted to the feelings those chemicals create. And then you need to “manage your addiction”.
If you’re in search of more performance opportunities, the allure of a troupe is two-fold. You’ll have company, help, and support in your quest for the performance high, and also, the fun multiplies when you share it with others! If you can’t find a troupe to join you may even decide to start one on your own. But before joining or starting one, give it a bit of thought. Troupes are a complex subject, just like belly dance itself. There’s more there than meets the eye.
There are various types of performing groups, but all boil down to either professional or non-professional. Non-pro troupes are also sometimes called amateur or hobbyist groups, and there’s nothing denigrating about those terms. Whoever is leading the group will make the decision on which kind of troupe it is; so if you join, you are carrying out THEIR vision, not necessarily your own. If the two coincide, so much the better. But you had better check that out beforehand, don’t you think? Imagine taking your family car onto a racetrack & trying to run with the pros...not a good idea! And a race car tooling about town is not maximizing its potential either.
As most troupe directors know, new members don’t come into the group fully developed–each one will continue to learn, grow, and mature (at least we hope so); HOWEVER, now--instead of the semi-anonymity of class--the new member’s growth (or lack thereof) will happen in an intimate setting, under the full and very interested scrutiny of the other members. That’s enough to give anyone pause, except that most dancers don’t realize that when they sign up!
If you are now in a troupe, do you feel like you fit in and are carrying your share of the load? Is there a disconnect between what you CAN do and what you’re SUPPOSED to do? Don’t try to fool yourself - because that’s usually the only one who WILL be fooled! Remember that brain-teaser “what doesn’t belong in this set”? It’s easily apparent to the objective eye when components of a set are mismatched. So be comfortable with your place in the performance world; acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses. You can always move forward, but first you must know–and accept--where you are.
Here are two verbal clues there’s a mismatched member in the group: Serious-Dancer says, “So-And-So doesn’t take this seriously” and Casual-Dancer says, “This is supposed to be fun!” Seriousa’s not going to be happy in the casual group; and Casuala’s not going to be happy in the serious group. It’s not about value judgments on which are the “real” dancers or “real” troupes, but simply about finding the best fit.