Belly Dancing Troupe VS Solo Dancing

Cabaret Oriental style Dance Troupe I was a member of 2009-2011

I decided to write this post after a recent invite to join an established traditional Folkloric North African dance troupe. A little different to the style I am used to but I thought it was time for a change and challenge so I kindly accepted the invitation to join..... And challenged I most definitely was. 

Why Was It A Challenge?  
1- The reasons why I personally found it a challenge was I have a form of Dyslexia called dyscalulua. That effects the coordination mathematics sense of direction positioning and anxiety levels of being in a dance troupe. Being honest about having dyscalula can leave you vulnerable and open to abusive people  I however I like a challenge and am known for putting bullies in their place. I'm okay with having a learning difficulty I know I am  highly creative and inteligent in my own way and it had led me on a path full of opportunities. Many Professional dancers have dislexia including Darcy  Brussel from strictly come dancing and let's not forget lots of self made millionaires and successful inventors are known to be dislexic. There's no shame in it at all it just means you learn differently and  a hold information differently. A good teacher will know how to help and bring the best out in you or at least be encouraging and supportive. I have learned strategies to help teach students who have this form of Dyslexia. Ive learned by observing and listening. 

2- The best thing about being a solo performer with dyscalula is I am a natural improvisation dancer which is what belly dancing is free from Choreography. As a solo performer I rely on myself to be the best I can be. 
As a teach I challenge myself to create artistic Choreography that isn't conventional. 
3- Last but not least the style of dance is not what I'm used to. As a cabaret / Oriental dancer I focus on very good lifted posture with energy used throughout the body and lift the heels alot as well as using the arms. The dance troupe is alot more relaxed with flat feet and not contraction in the muscles or arm work going on. 

 other members and the artistic director are a mix of ladies from very experienced students to dance teachers and choreographers. All are of different ages and dance backgrounds.  I am humble enough to admit I wasn't confident joining a Folkloric troupe as a solo improvisational Cabaret styled performer with discalulua. I thought it was great that the others trusted me and encouraged me. At my first public performance day with the Troupe I was a little nervous but I had a lot of support help and positivity from all of the members. I enjoyed the day and my performances went well. It was refreshing watching the other girls Performing, Supporting and encouraging them as they did me. That's when I realised how much I missed being part of a dance troupe.
This isn't the first dance troupe I have been a member of I have been in others but it is the most demanding and challenging because of the style which relies heavily on flatfooted thorough folkloric technique and choreographies. Something I wasn't used to. Whereas the other troupe where made up of mainly belly dance student with Cabaret and Oriental style danced on the toes with lots of props and floor work and less technical Choreographies. The performances where non serious as we started out as friends doing it for fun then the teacher got us professional gigs but we enjoyed it so much and there wasn't any pressure. It wasn't like work at all. 
 I have Danced solo (alone), Taught my beginner/improver/open level classes and have performed at numerous paid gigs since 2012 and found it a very different experience.
Here are my Pros and cons to Dancing in a Troupe and Dancing solo. If you would like to share your thoughts feel free to do so in the comments box.

Dance Troupe -Pros.        

There are many positives about joining a dance troupe                 
- Sharing the experience.                   
-Helping one another out.                 
-Supporting one another.                   
-Social aspects.                                     
-A sense of connecting.                       
- Sharing items.                                     
- Reseasals.                                           
-positive feedback.                               
-More dancers to earn                       
more pay.                                             
- Delegate jobs

 Dance Troupe Cons -

Personality clash
Fight for attention
Negative feedback
Teachers pet
Shared pay or no pay
Abusive behaviour
Get on each other's nerves
Last minute changes

Solo Dancing -Pros - 

No bitching or abusive behaviour                                       
 No last minute changes                     
Better pay.                                               
No personality clashes                         
You make decisions.                               
Don't have to put up with.                     
negative or abusive behaviour

Solo Dancing Cons -

 No feedback from others
 Alot of responsibility
 Can't delegate
Lack of support

Are You Better Staying Solo?
Before you join a dance troupe remember there are layers and levels of respect from both sides. A dance troupe is not all about you so if you are are highly competitive person who likes to be in the lime light you probley won't get along in a dance troupe and are probley best to stay solo. If you are particularly pretty successful outgoing or talented or if you don't get along with  a another dancer who's  a friends with the troupe or a particular member others may feel threatened by you or take a dislike to you for no reason of their own (their problem not yours!) If you like to build friendships based around Dance and share experiences and feel okay with sharing pay (if any) with others then you should be fine. Of course problems can arise and you can have personality clashes, Nitpicking, Jelousy, Gossip, Snyd remarks, Competition with other dances if this happens remember to assert yourself and nip it in the bud as soon as any of the negative stuff starts to escalate

A Note About being Assertive, Passive, Aggressive 

It has to be said there are many personality types in belly dance just like anywhere else. There are lots of lovely people, some people who are lost and insecure or going through a life change it crisis and others who are just downright nasty. To get along you need to learn how to be assertive with all personality types and not read into any dramatics or childish behaviour. 

If you don't you will end up being passive and give the impression its okay for abusive/ passive Aggressive people to use you as a verbal punch bag when they feel like crap. You will end up feeling victimised and bullied (not good for your self esteem) or you will be pushed to the limit and become aggressive and/or violent. I know other dancers (not just belly dancers) who are nice people with bad reputations because they have been pushed to aggression and violence by manipulative competitors who where looking for an excuse to make them look bad. In the short term aggression and violence gets the point across for people not to mess with you  The problem is if you act in that manner in normal adult and professional situations you will never be respected and people will be scared or nervous to be around you or judge before they even meet you. Its easy to resort to aggressive langauge and violence. As a women you need to be strong enough to have boundaries, Voice your opinion where need, Look after yourself by being assertive and be wise.
If you assert yourself in the beginning you can avoid problems. There are assertiveness courses, Self help books and therapy like Cognitive behavioural Therapy (CBT) if you feel you are lacking in assertiveness skills. You may never have to use the skills in the Dance world however they are a great tool to have throughout life.

Professional boundaries - 

 If you are already Dancing and teaching solo make sure you speak with the artistic director about her\his advertising boundaries. The worst thing you could do is start distributing your leaflets at her/his Gigs. Be respectful and assertive have the conversation. So at least everyone knows where they stand. Of course you have to put your business first especially if you have alot of outgoings when running your class so it is in your interest to advertise in the areas where you teach, Most of the time the artist director will allow you to hand out a leaflet or two if anybody happens to ask about a class you run in that area.

Its great if you can help others out by advertising their projects part of a troupe or other projects but make sure there's a balance.

This article was originally posted on my Dance & beauty blog.
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