Monday, May 14, 2012

New Chapter

I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting over the last few months. I am currently in the middle of taking a break from belly dancing to figure some things out. It’s been rough having to readjust to life since a special person in my life is no longer around to sharing things with anymore. Death can be cruel. But once I was presented with an opportunity to take a break from dance 2 months ago, step back, and look at my life, I’ve realized there were a lot of things that I needed to do in order to completely transition what I had started last year.

Last summer I had been mulling over the possibility of leaving the current group I was with along with the instructor I had been learning from for 3 years. I was finding that I was having a hard time meshing with some of the personalities in the group as time went on and the instructor was overlooking things too as time progressed. I was even the target of anger and jealousy a few times as well due to misunderstandings or failures to talk things out with me to have a better understanding of where their unhappiness was coming from. I’ve mainly kept to myself in this group because I was the newbie who jumped lengths to catch up to those in the class who had been dancing 3-5 years longer than myself. There was jealousy that I had been brought up so soon and was learning faster than those in my class. It was very awkward. As time went on, some of that negative energy from the situation dissipated, but was renewed again as people became frustrated with their own shortcomings and rumors began to spread within the group. I found myself being forgotten about for practices outside of class and felt the isolation take place. I later found the source, but once the source was removed, the hint of unhappiness was still lingering under what was suppose to be full acceptance of who I was in the group. It became unfixable drama.

So during these 2 months I had to step back and really think on what I wanted for myself out of belly dancing. I mean, I had started learning for myself and only for me. I’ve always been a musical person and dancing took the place of playing music when what I wanted was not longer available to me. I had to stop and think why I was becoming unhappy with where I was, why I beginning to feel irritated about my involvement with things, and why I was hesitant about taking the front stage when it was open for the taking. The discord in the group was the answer and more specifically how it felt like I was the excuse people were using for the negative energy. People were unwilling to realize that they had weaknesses they were not willing or ready to fix, where I was taking the bull by the horns and just dealing with it to the best of my ability (with lack of instruction or encouragement by my instructor). This negative energy multiplied when I was placed at the front of the stage because of the resentment others had for their own short comings and lack to take the initiative. They push me to the front while in the back they fume under the surface of the water. They pushed me to the front because they didn’t want to be there, but complained because they were not given the opportunity. Originally I thought taking a 2 month break from classes would possibly help ease things, allow the other girls to do without me and let them find their footing. I was wrong. After being gone a month and rejoining the group for a performance at Fresno State University for their annual Vintage Days event, that under current of negative energy was still there. Many of the girls kept their distance from me like I carried the plague. Honestly, it was no surprise to me, but I had half hoped that the negativity would be lessened. So I performed and did fairly well for not being in class to practice everything with everyone for a month. I had to use my own personal time to be sure I still remembered what we were to perform for the event. I also found out that the group began learning a new choreography, but they are still not focusing on technique (which is really needed right now). From my understanding, they did 2 classes of technique before being thrown into a new dance.

A week later I attended the Visalia Renaissance Faire under my own gypsy guild I had created for not only dancing and drumming, but for those people involved with renaissance faires who wanted to play thieves, storytellers, palm readers and other roles for the Romani culture for the 1500s time period. Only the members of JenCee attended and the husband of one of those members. We had the surprise of seeing Tanjora participating in this faire under the name Banat Tanjora. Since my guild was listed as wandering, we had the opportunity to join Tanjora in their encampment at the end of the first day of faire to drum with them. After the faire was over for the day, my guild members left for the night and, as I was camping at the grounds, I had the opportunity to speak with the instructor for Tanjora along with the other members who were there. It was nice speaking with them and sharing stories, experiences, jokes, etc. Later that night, I was lying in my tent thinking about how well I had connected to the members of Tanjora and thought it wouldn’t hurt to drop-in on a few classes that were being offered by the instructor through California Arts Academy.

That Monday I went to the beginners class (Level 1) to see if I may want to start there if I were to join. The class was simple and more of a refresher for me, but it had been a long time since I had gotten that much of a workout in class. It was even refreshing to have time to stretch before and after we began going over movements. There is the surprise for people who didn’t know. My other instructor doesn’t take time to stretch before and after the intermediate class. She reserves that for the beginners and then hops right into things for the intermediate/advance classes. This is a big no-no for any dance class to skip any type of warm-up and cool-down periods. You increase your risk of injury without warming up to it and cooling down to avoid cramps/stiffness. After feeling good about my experience, I returned the following week to try one of the intermediate classes (Level 2B as Level 2A was cancelled due to not enough students). Again, it was another class where I was getting quite a workout that also had built in time for stretching before and after getting into the dance.

Now here I am, 2 weeks after attending those classes and facing the biggest decision I have had to make regarding dance. And you know what sucks about the Leo tendencies? You tend to be loyal to those who you respect and value. But there are times where you have to break that loyalty when you realize something is not working. I have had to come to that difficult decision. I have appreciated the 3 years of experience I had received from Ananka Dance Company. It was a great place to start and build my enthusiasm for learning more belly dancing, but as I hit a plateau and ran into issues that were hindering me from progressing further, I have realized that I can’t remain where I don’t feel right. I don’t like being used as a reason for people to be upset with themselves. I don’t like the fact that I was not being encouraged to further myself. I don’t like that I was limited to a small number of performances throughout each year with no opportunity for more. This was why JenCee was created so we could do those performances Ananka was not interested in doing (we’ve had to place that ambition on hold though due to a one of our members expecting a little dancer/drummer).

So after a lot of thinking I have decided to close a chapter with Ananka and begin a new chapter with Tanjora. I don’t know how soon I will be performing, but since I am just starting a new experience, I’m not looking to be on stage until next year at the earliest. I am quite fine with this as long as I am getting the learning experience that I deserve. I feel I will be happier here, especially since I have had the chance to interact with a portion of the members before I made any decision or commitment.

To close this entry, I would like to share pictures with you of JenCee and Tanjora from the Visalia Renaissance Faire April 28th-29th 2012:

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