I have been in the belly dance community as an instructor and performer for several years, and I have had the pleasure of studying and performing with people who have been in this art form for decades. What drew me to stay in belly dance was a sense of sensuality, and a bit of sisterhood, especially since I started with learning American Tribal, as this form is generally done with a group of two or more. It’s a great energy to dance with a group!
Now, I realize that when ATS or Tribal in general was first brought into the light, some people who had been dancing classical Egyptian/Oriental had issues with it; it’s not pure Oriental, etc. Even so, little by little, Tribal was being accepted. It embraces the old with the new.
Belly dance is the one true form of dance that does embrace every body type – which is wonderful! We all share one common denominator: the love of dance. We are a sisterhood, a community. But are these words overused and spoken with emptiness? As a community of sisters, we should encourage each other and our students to continue their studies. This means taking not only additional belly dancing, but ballet or other styles–with various instructors. For our students, (and for us as well), these additional classes can assist in finding one’s own voice in dance.
There is nothing greater for me as an instructor than to see a student who has taken fusion, ATS, Egyptian, etc. to step out and perform, because they’ve taken a pinch from X, a handful from Y, a little bit of Z and mixed in their own personality – and now we see them really dance! We see a glimpse inside their soul.
Who are we to put limitations on our students and tell them they can’t take from other instructors? Don’t we as instructors seek to improve our quality of dance? Wouldn’t it be hypocritical for us to stop our students from furthering their knowledge? And shouldn’t we encourage/support their performance opportunities? Nothing would be more satisfying to me then to see a student of mine surpass me; grow past me. That truly would be the highest compliment I could receive.