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Gilded Serpent presents...
Rhythm and Reason Series, Article 3
Community Warfare
by Mary Ellen Donald
Originally published in Bellydancer Magazine in 1978 as part of an ongoing column. This magazine was published by Yasmine Samra in Palo Alto, California.

Time and again I hear dancers deplore the fact that in many parts of the country there are warring camps among dancers; that is, groups that openly oppose each other and that try to keep all useful information and all jobs to themselves. Yes, I too feel that it would be more fulfilling if we spent our energy sharing and creating rather than fighting and destroying.

I often view the battle tactics used as pitiful and sometimes downright absurd. However, I知 beginning to wonder if this open warfare, draining as it can sometimes be, isn稚 easier to deal with than the hostility that sometimes comes from people who claim to be friendly or at least neutral.

So that you値l know exactly what I知 talking about, I知 going to list below some pertinent experiences which have been brought to my attention over the past year. (I知 sure you could enrich this list if you think about it for a few moments.)

1. You plan a big seminar bringing a famous out-of-town guest instructor, announce your plans and the date six months before the event. A couple of months after you announce this event, one of the dancers in your area who has been advocating sharing 殿ll for the good of the art puts out the word that she is bringing another well-known guest instructor to the area two weeks before your seminar and is charging less than you had announced. Then you know you are the victim of hostility.

I壇 like to make it clear from the beginning that I know that there are times when two dancers in an area bring in guest instructors a week or two apart simply out of non-communication and lack of sharing rather than out of deliberate hostility. I would only suspect maliciousness if I had information that substantiated that.

I don稚 think that a solution to the problem would be to keep it a secret that you are having a guest instructor until a couple of weeks before the event. You might succeed in fooling your hostile associate but you will also succeed in having only a handful of participants attend. I wouldn稚 advise fighting hostility with more hostility. Be more clever than that. Besides, it痴 a waste of energy. Just be aware of where your genuine support comes from.

2. When you put on a seminar and invite local dancers to be your guest performers in the show and in return you offer them the two-day seminar free, and the dancers don稚 bring even one of their students to attend the seminar and they themselves don稚 even take a peak into any of the classes, then you certainly know that these dancers are not your supportive associates. Yes, you hoped that this gesture of goodwill on your part by inviting them to have the honor of performing at such an event would bring a few more people to the seminar itself. You probably learned that it takes more than goodwill to soften the fears of those people who so desperately try to keep their students away from the sometimes illuminating affects of outside instruction.

3. When you see your name casually mentioned in small print on a flier that advertises a seminar in which you are obviously the main draw and when the seminar is over you find yourself abandoned in a hotel with a message that you should find your own way to the airport, then you can believe that you were on the other end of some hostility.

Certainly when you put on a seminar there are many details for you to remember and sometimes you forget things, but to forget your main instructor seems a little blatant to go overlooked. It痴 probably no comfort to you to realize that the hostility from your sponsor was more than likely unconscious; that is, unintentional. That doesn稚 change the effects of the sponsor痴 actions. Not that you should be mean in return. But you might question a little more your undying loyalty in the future.

4. You work for six months to put on a high quality seminar and one of your associates tells you that the guest instructor is a good friend of hers and she will do everything she can to support your seminar and you find out later that she didn稚 announce the seminar to her students or announced it so casually that it had no impact. She puts on several small workshops in your area a couple of weeks before your seminar and as a result brings no one to the seminar, then surely you have experienced some hostility here.

No, you don稚 go around denouncing her. That痴 silly. You just know that in the future you can稚 count on her.

5. You invite one of the bellydance publications to cover a very big seminar that you are putting on. You pay for refreshments for three staff members of the publication, arrange that they might have special interviews with the guest instructors and in the publication you see a photo of one of the staff members with the grand guest instructor. You read a glorious romanticized account of the event, read quotes from random samples of people who attended the seminar, and then it dawns on you that your name is not mentioned in the article not even in the most casual way.

You have been treated hostily and there痴 no explaining of that away. How many times do you have to experience similar treatment before you will believe that there are certain people in your world who don稚 wish to be fair in their treatment of you, let alone supportive?

No, you don稚 publicly denounce them unless you are itching for a cause to occupy your time with. You just have to stop deluding yourself. They have nothing to offer you.

Let these examples speak for themselves. I壇 like to close with this thought for you to consider. Sometimes being too nice means being foolish.

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Ready for more?

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4-19-05 Helm takes Rhythm Diatribes Workshops to Europe by Ling Shien Bell
The musicians will be conducting a series of rhythm/music workshops in Ireland, Spain and Luxembourg this April.

3-26-05 “My Aim in Organizing a World-inclusive Oriental Dance Festival” by Amani
Dancer Amani of Lebanon Comments, "Oriental dancing has become a widespread art; it is now found all over the world, and among all levels of society in all the five continents! "

4-11-05 San Francisco Screening of American Bellydancer by Miles Copeland
Traveling to San Francisco to attend the screening of American Bellydancer to a largely belly dance community crowd was like jumping into a hornet’s nest of opposing views!

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