I have belly dance tonight and I don’t want to go. It has not been fun for me in quite some time.
As usually happens in my life, either I have outgrown them or they have outgrown me. Usually when that happens, there is a sudden break. Something ugly happens or I have to just quit and people end up being shocked and hurt. Bridges get burned.
The graceful exit is something I have had to teach myself. It’s hard being a bridge burner in a small town!!! But I didn’t really think I would have to do it with the belly dancing. Belly dancing, and this troupe, has meant a lot to me and I just didn’t foresee things evolving the way they have.
There are factions now. Roughly split between younger and older. One group wants big venues and recognition. One group likes the learning and fellowship and exercise. One group seems able to successfully do both with little stress. Our teacher wants to be the good guy and try to please all and offend none. But she really, really is drawn to the big venue and recognition group. And everybody brings to it personal issues that are as individual as can be.
Then there is me. I really thought that if I explained myself (and what I need because of my anxiety and what I will try to do to support the group) that it would work. I imagined that they in turn would help me find my way.
That did not happen.
I am disappointed. While I am certainly not quitting, I am now on something of a break while I wait for the opportunity that will welcome me within my limitations and help me to thrive in some way.
Tonight I’m going to rehearsal as moral support for my friend who has been left in charge while the teacher is overseas. Also, I have a finished sewing project to bring in for another dancer. So, there is that.
One big reason that I have declined to participate in an upcoming big performance, in a very large venue, is that I remembered the incredible stress from last year when much of the troupe made little effort to come to rehearsals, etc. I vividly remember having to perform a dance that was not polished and it actually flopped. It was a pretty big venue where we wanted to do really well. We older ones had begged and begged ahead of time, and warned and warned, but nobody listened. Everybody acted like it was no big deal, like we were being unreasonable.
When we started up again in the fall, I made several suggestions to fix a couple of the big problems and got dismissed each time. I shut-up about it.
So, imagine my surprise this year when someone else made the same suggestions and they were embraced! Of course, now there is much less time to work with. Those very same dancers are now soooo nervous and verrrry eager to have extra rehearsals.
Oh, at first they said the same old things–it’ll be fine, it’ll all come together, it always does…. Then suddenly they got high standards. There’s only a few weeks until the gig!!! And they are starting to be critical of the weaker dancers to the point they don’t want to include them. Hmmm. We have always been inclusive before and supportive. But now that they are calling all the shots, things have changed.
It’s insulting and disappointing. But I am taking it as a valuable learning experience. I don’t think I have burned any bridges, though I feel certain that I am being misunderstood.
The graceful exit is not the simple solution I thought it would be. There is still a lot on my mind and a lot of work to do to salvage something out of this. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see how it turns out.