I have been both a festival producer and a traveling workshop teacher for almost 17 years. This past weekend I retired my festival, TribalCon, because of economic and personal reasons. It has been a main aspect of my life for so many years that my entire student, family, and travel life has revolved around it.
So today I walk out into the world not as "Ziah, the Producer of TribalCon Dance and Music Festival" but as just Ziah, dance teacher and holder of lots of awesome production skills that she needs to sell people so she can earn a living.
The dance teacher aspect is in its own time of flux. I have decided I want to teach our own creations authentically instead of poorly representing other people's styles and creations. I feel this is the ethical thing to do at this moment in my life. I am so excited to share my dance company's and friends' work that I have collaborated on. This is scary to have to sell ME! it is easy to say "This person is awesome and their format is great!"...it is really scary to say (jeez I can barely type it) "My style is awesome and our format is great!" because we are taught to be humble and self effacing. And what if we do say it and people shrug and go "Eh, not really interesting to me."??? Rejection is the scary part of putting yourself out there as an artist, much easier to have someone else's format get turned down than YOUR WORK. Then someone comes along to help you be brave by saying kind words to you, Shana DeLuca of Atlanta, posted this note to me recently:
"You are one of my biggest heroes around promoting a healthy vision of body image. You have done so much around the evolution, art and tradition of belly dance. I love that in the shows, there are beautiful women of all shapes, ages, and sizes. Since the mid-late 90’s, I always leave your shows feeling inspired and in awe of the human body and how each person is perfectly made. Seeing people comfortable and confident in their own skin is so awesome, having lived in the same dysmorphia for so many years that you mention. Feeling grateful, healthy, and honoring our real selves and how we are created is the ultimate gift, but definitely not easy in this society. I am glad that you are putting (the topic of body dysmorphia) out here for us to really think about and encourage our daughters to love themselves no matter what industry is communicating."
Words of support like this really do help because it means that at least SOMEONE in the audience is getting the message and helps you be brave enough to keep venturing forth as an artist. It takes nerves of steel to be an artist for a living, and that steel is built out of notes like that.
So am I continuing forth with teaching just our dance company's work? Will I be brave enough? Or will I crack and go back to the safe space? Safe meaning I do it just to make money and avoid rejection. I am giving myself one month to try to sell my own wares instead of someone else's talents. Not a long commitment to one's own art I know, but I need to take baby steps for my own monetary and mental health.
Part 2 will be about selling my production skills in a market I have never tapped before, gonna be super exciting to report what happens....