Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Returning from my fourth Tribal Fest

Tribal Fest. It's like the (pardon the analogy) Mecca of tribal and fusion bellydance. It's where we go to learn from and watch the "stars", and it's where new stars are born and discovered.

And for a little less than a week, you can immerse yourself in this world of fantasy and individuality, if you go in with the right attitude.

It's easy to get wrapped up in the glitz and glitter and infinite searches for "fame." Frankly, there's a whole lot of ass-kissing and schmoozing that goes on at a festival like this one. So many people wanting to talk to the more famous dancers, to have their troupe noticed by the big names, and to get that latest hip (haha... punny!) pair of Melodia pants.

I've inadvertently been sucked into the materialism and external focus that is so prevalent at large gatherings such as this one. It's easy for me to feel like the odd one out, the outsider who isn't cool enough to hang with the popular kids... it's a complex I've had since elementary school... This sense of not being able to relate and feeling like I need to keep up with the Joneses of tribal belly dance leaves me feeling inadequate, inexperienced, and disconnected... not only from the "scene" but myself. It also doesn't help that I'm introverted and have a hard time feeling comfortable around large groups of people, particularly when I don't know most of them.

This year I made a conscious decision to make the most of my time at the fest, regardless of what happened. I think it worked!

I took time away from the fest when I needed to be isolated, and I spent a a leisurely amount of time getting ready for my performance on Friday night. When I got to the festival venue after finishing my hair and make up, I spent at least an hour and a half walking around with my earphones on, listening to Rush (of course!) and just centering myself. I had a few one-on-one conversations with vendors about music and dance and integrity, which also helped to boost my confidence a little bit more. I think that this time alone, in my own little world of music, helped me deliver (what I thought was) a solid performance that night.

I spent the remainder of the festival with my friends, spending time with people who I hadn't seen in months, sometimes years, and enjoying the warmth of the northern California sun. I spent money on things that I knew I would use, not just because they were the "cool new things".

If you look past all the shiny things on the vendors' tables and find a sense of peace within yourself and your abilities as a dancer and as a human being, chances are you'll be less likely to be sucked into the vortex of activity at such a large festival as Tribal Fest. Everyone has a different festival experience, and it's up to you to choose how you approach and spend your time. This year, I feel like I chose very wisely.


Amber said...

From what I hear, your performance was amazing, I hope you get a video of it to share. See you in a few weeks at Caravan, I can't wait to finally take a class with you!

Unknown said...

Wow, that's really validating and inspiring. I recognize a lot of myself in the post: I tend to be the wallflower at parties/large gatherings and would often return home feeling more insecure than when I'd left. What's really helped me is accepting myself at that moment. Instead of turning my natural shyness into a catalyst for internal conflict, I let myself be however social or shy I want to be, without judging myself. I think one of the most courageous things we can do is just accept ourselves and listen to our inner truth. You were obviously connected to your inner truth during Tribal Fest. I'm sure your performance was captivating, exquisite, and intensely powerful, and I wish I had been in the audience!
I have so much respect for you, a dancer who creates her art in truth.

Best wishes,

Gypsy with a Camera said...

thats the one thing i see since i started dancing back in december& some of my insructors kinda act like that too. my sister dances as well& she notices that our teacher kinda picks faves. its kinda sad though but we must go on for what we love!

your an amazing dancer btw. :)