Professionalism is about attitude. Whether or not you are a professional dancer, it is important to have a professional attitude.
Even as a beginner it’s important to have a positive attitude and be respectful and supportive of other dancers.
It seems pretty obvious that this is important for the career dancer, someone who wants to make money at her trade. But, let me tell you, it isn’t always obvious.
No Drama Divas Allowed!
Over the years I’ve met many dancers who work hard on their technique, buy the best costumes and practice their hearts out. On the stage, they are masters of the dance, breathtaking and amazing. Off stage-not so much.
On the stage these dancers are definitely professional, but off stage they are divas or competitive back-stabbers.
Let me be really clear when I say that as a sponsor when I’m looking to hire a dancer to teach a workshop, there are lots of good dancers I can choose. So, I won’t be choosing someone with a less than positive attitude. If I go to an event and overhear a dancer making snide remarks about another dancer, or having a fit because she doesn’t want to dance first or showing a lack of support in any manner, she won’t make my list. I don’t care how amazing her technique is, I won’t be hiring her. I can guarantee you I will hire someone with amazing technique who also has a professional and supportive attitude!
Cattitude Attitudes kill careers.
Cattitude is having a catty attitude and I find this kind of thing intolerable and it’s also self-destructive.
Here is a story about cattitude:
I once had a student who had the potential to be a superstar belly dancer. She was an incredible performer but then she caught the diva attitude. She decided she was better than my other students and better than me, her teacher. She went on her merry way and I wished her well. A few months later, my dance partner and I attended an event where we ran into the diva dancer and her friend. We were happy to see them and greeted them; they gave us dirty looks and turned away. My partner was hurt and upset until I explained to her that we were in a public gathering and a large group of people witnessed our supportive attitude and their rude cattitude. The moral of the story is that ten years later, my partner and I are still popular performers who get asked to dance and the diva faded away into the background and rarely performs.
Our dance community is a tight one and word gets around. Attitude can kill your potential to have a career in belly dance.
Diva attitudes need not apply.
I was once a judge at a belly dance contest and one of the competitors didn’t like her scores. Instead of asking the judges who gave her lower scores to give her feedback or advice, she angrily confronted them. This was a dancer who had no interest in growing or improving because she thought she was the best. Word passed through the judges like wildfire and most of the judges were also event sponsors. Do you think any of us put her on our list of potential hires?
Tables can turn.
So my last story is about dancer A. I was a baby belly dancer and at my first belly dance show. I had traveled out of town and I was so excited! During the intermission, I introduced myself to, A, one of the dancers and started to ask her a question. She looked down her nose at me and asked, “Why are you talking to me?” Then she turned around and walked away. Rude? That’s putting it mildly.
Years later, I was the editor of an international belly dance magazine. A came up to my booth and asked me why I’d never asked her to be on the cover. So I told her about my experience with her as a baby belly. I said that I didn’t hold a grudge, but that because of her attitude it never occurred to me to ask her. She laughed and said that sounded like something she would have done and that she had worked hard to be a better person. And, indeed she has and because of that she has stayed in the game long-term.
So this story has two morals:
Be kind to everyone because you never know who might be in a position someday to help your career.
And, you can choose to change your attitude and be the best you can be.