Recently I posed a question to social media that I’ve been pondering a lot- and that’s giving up. Should I give up dancing? Should I give up on dance completely? Partially? I asked the following: Have you ever given up on something in dance? Have you ever stopped doing something that you felt obligated to do in order to appear “successful” but that wasn’t really bringing you joy anymore?

I’ve been looking at this because of all of the frustrations that I see online and in some aspects of my own dance business and career. Maybe my priorities have changed from when I started but I’m not sure. I wanted to see if it was just me feeling this way or if dancers. I don’t want to do things out of obligation because it tends to show. If you’re not dancing for the joy and for the money it starts to come across. If you’re only attending this or that to be “seen”, it shows. Your heart isn’t in it. And I don’t want to give time to something that my heart isn’t into.

Another thing I have seen is a change in the vibe. When the economy changes our businesses change and the focus can be more on the dollar than the art. Teachers change how they teach in order to reach more students and attract more to the class. Maybe your class changes to a more fitness style and you’re not into that. But if there are onl ya few then there aren’t enough people to sustain it. The world also seems to be in general more negative. Everything is sad or bad and it changes things.

greek baltimore dancer, greek dancer baltimore, bellydance by amartia

Also, I’ve seen people try to change who they are as dancers to fit into an event or a show. For instance, I might be able to loosely pull off a hula style performance at a party. But because I haven’t trained in hula dance extensively, I don’t feel right doing so. To me, it’s not ok, to put on a grass skirt and then bellydance just to be able to present something as hula dance. Or any other fusion or addition that I haven’t done extensive research into or practice. It might lose me that gig or event but it doesn’t feel right in my heart. I feel like I’m not giving that art form the fullness it deserves.

I’ve found that I have to give myself permission to say no. It’s ok to say no to things, it’s ok not to be super busy all the time. Just because someone isn’t gigging doesn’t mean they are busy in their business or active. Just because they aren’t posting about it on social media doesn’t mean they are actually busy. It’s really easy to fool people in photos. Heck, i saw a hack using a toilet seat to make it look like you were traveling on a plane! So just because you’re not all over the world or doing all the things doesn’t mean you’re giving up.

What I am trying to say is that it’s ok to have changes, to change your priorities and for dance to change with that. Your art is much better when you’re heart is in it than when it’s not. And you’ve got to go where your hear leads you. I hope that if this is something you are struggling with that this article gives you someone to commiserate with and maybe the permission you needed to let it go.