I see you.
I hear you.
Your story touches me deeply.
I’ve seen a lot of BS and injustice in the world, but the one for female artists and dancers is just one that I’m very close to and experience reverberations through the women who seek me for my healing services.
This topic is huge and I will probably not do it justice with this post, and YET!
I’m just going to drop the perfectionism on this and just go with the urgency of the flow.
There’s two major layers I’d like to delve into:
1. the dancer as an “embody’er” of the divine ethers
2. the socio-political stance of being a woman artist
DANCERS ARE CATALYSTS
We’re so in touch with our bodies, that we forget the special nature this skill has!
It’s just so natural to us. I love sitting cross-legged on a chair for example.
For most people that’s awfully odd. To me it’s just a thing I do.
And this brings me right into the center of our calling: we’re the humans that came to embody the divine, that which is not palpable in any other way but through movement, through grace, through physical prowess, but also through the sensitive vulnerable aspect of “being in this life”. We ARE in a body after all.
Most humans though live in complete alienation of the body, until the bad stuff hits the fan: sickness, loss of mobility, visual conflict of image, pain.
There’s a slumber I feel into as a young dancer when I went to professional dance school.
I did the exact same. All the while I was training every day and “being in my body”, I was also activating the motor of the mind: the technicalities that are required of a modern dancer to “fit the frame of commercialisation” do a lot of harm to our art form.
It may not be noticeable immediately, but when you enter and leave the studio with worries such as how to get your leg to go higher or how to do more turns, you’ve been eaten by the money making machine this industry wants to brainwash you into.
We just don’t know anymore how to tap into this divine aspect, because that’s just not valued traditionally anymore.
The magic of the dancer and the only celebration there seems to be of dance now, is that which “wows” us. We are for “show”, for “exaltation factor”, a bit like an animal in a zoo.
It fascinates us for their beauty, that wild instinct that’s actually not tameable; yet because it’s now in a cage we can feed our kicks behind the bars and feel safe to laugh, plod it, tease it, clap for it, abuse it without being bitten.
Maybe that’s why contemporary dance is going through such a detoxification process right now, bringing the viewers to leave confused and puzzled with more and more indecipherable pieces, yet this would be for a different post all together.
Of course, the day when dance came to sway us into her charm, all she wanted was to teach us how to embody that which cannot be named, written, expressed or sung otherwise. There’s a divine blueprint in dance that teaches us about the very core thing there is: to be alive, in a body, with feelings, with memories, with desires, and all that is so tangibly human at large.
There’s a process in the act of movement that cannot be experienced from outside, and THIS is what I’m getting to.
There was a time I would finish my training, teach all my classes and go back home to make space for dance and “for me”, just for the sheer joy of having this gift that was meant for me to experience.
However, I’d just lie on the floor, paralyzed, the music playing in the background and my eyes flooded with tears, because my body didn’t want to move anymore.
I now understand that this was because for the previous years and further along then, I was only allowing myself to dance out of “duty”.
My body was exhausted from this torment so much that it would shut down on me.
And it started to shut down as the months and years went by, until I went travelling and promised myself I would only dance if I really felt like it.
I’m still purging all this gunk from my system.
BEING A WOMAN
There’s been a lot of upheavel about the #metoo movement lately and only a few days ago I read the comments under twitter post about imaging men’s curfew by 9pm and what kind of lifestyle we’d live as women.
The list is endless of how being a woman in this world, definitely has an impact on our psyche, on our lifestyle, on our health, on our relationships.
I will dive deeper into my personal experiences of what it was like to be a female dancer in London, which as I have now understood, are very common to many other dancers I meet from around the world.
It’s a man’s world, even and especially for the dance sector.
There’s still a much higher percentage of female dancers over male dancers, and you’d think that would help.
Let me tell you, that every time I’d see a guy walk into a class, I felt the twitch: I’m going to have to dance extra fierce, extra powerful, extra oomph now.
I learnt quickly that male dancers had some sort of favoritism over females.
Later when I frequently was around the partner dancing scenes like salsa, bachata and zouk I faced a very different issue.
Being a girl was awesome, but it also put you into a sensitive light that is very difficult to catch, because it’s so subtle.
If you wanted any kind of influence, you’d either be undermined by the decisions of your male partner, the promoters or fronts of houses of the events and festivals or you’d just be forgotten or placed under the “too complicated/expensive/not necessary” category.
And there’s that glass ceiling you keep pushing against, but can’t quite put your finger on it.
Let me not even go into the subliminal sexual harassment and flirtations I needed to skillfully slalom around in order to get shows booked, classes checked, performance opportunities sealed without “pissing them off” and without needing to do anything I didn’t want to do.
It wasn’t so bad for me, possibly, because I was never fully famous in that scene, but let me guarantee you that my jaw dropped 4 metres below ground when I discovered that my amazing and fantastic salsa mentor would often get cancelled on last minute because they’d just booked a male, on how her salary for classes and gigs was always 50% less than her male counterparts, even though they were doing EXACTLY the same job.
And of course, when you walk into a club to just do social dancing there’s many moments of grey zone about touch and consent, whether you’re a professional dancer or not doesn’t even matter! I hear these stories from both sides of the spectrum. Most of our societies are very badly educated on boundaries and physical matters.
It’s happened to me quite few times that I could sense the desperation and the lack of control in a male dancer when he’d sweep his hand slightly inappropriately over my chest or buttox: everytime this happens now, I see the trauma, the desire that is out of touch with reality so much that it has no other outlet but on the dance floor.
Never did I think to reveal this in public, but I faced a very surprising situation which I feel many women dancers will relate to.
While helping to organize a big international dance festival (which I will not name) I found myself socializing with the guests and having some down time.
Not far into the evening I was justifying myself to one of the dance “stars” on why I didn’t want to sleep with him. When I insisted multiple times that it was simply not my choice, I then received his subliminally threatening words and mental psycho-BS on how he just had a big appetite etc. Having studied the field of pick-up artists and the tools they use as well as being a pretty astute woman when it comes to getting my boundaries met, I wouldn’t be surprised that ladies find themselves in that hypnotized state and can’t stand against the various insisting strategies that come their way. And there is a reputation for this particular person, yet nobody strikes a pose on this, so he’ll just keep doing the thing.
By no means am I trying to shed dark alone on this field, but what needs to be said, needs to be said. I’ve seen many women in this industry face huge mental health issues because they’ve experience traumatic events on many levels, and for the pressure of remaining “glamorously professional” they keep the secrets, keep quiet, keep the pain for themselves or between their girlfriends only.
Yes, there’s alot of fear to handle in being a female.
There’s even more consequences to being an artist and female at the same time.
I only hope to impact the generations to come to stand in their power.
I hope to voice what women in this industry feel they can’t say because they may lose face.
I’m currently interviewing female dancers and other creatives with influence to shed more light on this topic, so that the next generation of dancers won’t need to face this abuse, so that they feel empowered to be a woman with huge skill, so that consciousness can rise in the field, with love and grace.
I know that dance is a highly underestimated art form and that it is coming into more popularity for its healing and empowering benefits.
I also see that women have never been as powerful as they can be and lead from their hearts as freely as they are now, or at least in the Western World, this is a situation gaining a lot more momentum.
I truly believe we are divine beings and we are able to access these codes for humanity and pass them on.
This is not just woo. This topic goes way beyond the political and social layouts.
It’s about finding our full capacity to voice our creative essence.
It’s about being so completely at ease in our wild side and allow the beauty of the inner beast to reveal that grace of being a human.
It starts with us dancers fully claiming the spirit of dance within ourselves!
Of course, there’s sooooo much more I’d love to talk about, but that’s what’s come through today.
If you’re a dancer with influence or simply felt resonance with this blog I invite you to book a Creative Female Leader Call with me and see how we can both impact the world of the arts!
Send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org