A Statement of Purpose
As I head into 2009, I have been reflecting on my progress as a dancer, artist, and human being.
I pride myself on the fact that I have “made it”, so to speak, on my own, and through the generosity of friends and contacts who saw something in me and my art worth promoting.
I have struggled to be myself, my own dancer, blazing my own path without schmoozing, kissing anyone’s ass, or trying to copy anyone else’s style or look. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been tempted to ask to be part of a festival or show when I thought I might have been overlooked, to join something that would bring me greater visibility in the dance community, or to change my costuming or music just to be noticed… but to do might have meant working with people who I find unsavory, sacrificing a part of my individuality, and ultimately violating my sense of integrity and my fundamental instinctual need to create to honest art.
I never compromised my art to be more well-known. I never once sold out.
I believe that I am doing this the hard way. I am not a member of a famous dance troupe. I don’t have a gimmick. I choose music that moves me tremendously but often annoys the crap out of other people. I have not tried to rub shoulders with famous dancers just to be noticed. I am not a squeaky wheel. I have worked dance and art in between a full-time job, a loving husband, and my family. I have damaged my body, fighting exhaustion and rehabilitating from injuries. I have cracked my emotional calm over and over again, facing the darkest parts of my psyche, my frustrations, my expectations, and most of all my fear. I haven’t expected opportunities to be handed to me. I do not expect favors. I am unflinchingly alone in my artistic journey, and I am fiercely proud of it.
I have chosen to quietly perfect my technique, to focus on training and conditioning, to build on my artistic convictions, and to be me at all costs.
When I decided to pay less attention to the opportunities that others had, and more attention to my own progress as an artist, that’s when the opportunities started knocking at my door. WorldDanceNewYork asked me to produce a DVD. Marta Vizueta recommended me to teach at DC’s largest non-profit dance studio, Joy of Motion, and they hired me. Saphira asked me to join the faculty at her studio, Saffron Dance in Arlington, Virginia, which after only two years of business has already won “Best New Business” and “Best Place to Work Out” awards for the city of Arlington. Festival promoters around the world have asked me to teach, to perform, and to be a part of their events. And a few years before that, several of my fellow dancers suggested me to WorldDanceNewYork to appear on the first Gothic Bellydance DVD.
I never asked for any of it. But I am so thankful for every producer, dancer, artist, and friend who has offered me a gig, a teaching position, a performance slot, a positive DVD review, a fan e-mail, or a compliment. I have discovered that true gratitude goes a long way, and that, at least in the dance world, karma happens. And I believe that the dancers who stay true to themselves, and who stay humble throughout their careers are the ones who ultimately succeed.
Being true to yourself isn’t easy. It’s perhaps the hardest thing an artist can do. But the rewards are worth the struggle.
This is my statement of purpose… to remain true to my convictions, to never compromise my art to make myself more appealing or popular, to continue to grow and learn and seek knowledge from my mentors and colleagues both in and out of the dance world, and to be an example for dancers who are seeking their own artistic path.
If you had to, right this moment, right your own statement of purpose for 2009, on what would you focus?