Monday, December 20, 2010

Snark Free Zone & the Meaning of "Real"

An Old Photo of Me with My Long Hair
Last week, at a very fragile time, I got a snarky and mean comment on this blog. It was flagged as possible spam and so I got to delete it before anyone saw it. I do not do snark. I do not post snark responses. Snark is sarcasm taken to a new (low) level and it usually is born of a writer's own insecurities. (There is an entire book out about how it is indicative of the fall of a culture.)

But this post is not about that.  It is about the content of the snarky comment: the writer was asserting (anonymously, of course) that I am not a Real Dancer. That my age forbids that, first of all. That no one will ever take me seriously.  That yogadance does not exist and that what I do is simply fun exercise.

This brings up a lot, doesn't it?

First, the term "Real Dancer."  I have the soul of a dancer. Period. This person has also never seen me dance...but beyond that, I am a Real Dancer, because I dance every day; I take my dancing seriously and it is my Work in this World; I share that love with others.  I could go on and on, but you, dear regular readers of Blisschick, don't need me to, because you come to this blog with open and loving hearts.

You know that the world's definitions of us are too limited, too small, and that we are way too shiny and grand to stay in those shoddy, cardboard boxes.

What constitutes a "REAL" anything?  Writer?  Painter?  Singer?  Yogi?

I will tell you what!  Intention.

What intention do you bring to this world and your work here?  I bring passion and joy and love and desire and need to my dancing.  I must dance.  Therefore, I am Dancer.

Fame and fortune are obviously the only things my snarky commenter thinks are important in this life.

For me, Dance is my Path -- physically, intellectually, creatively, and spiritually all at once.

Second, my age.  Anna HalperinMartha GrahamGabrielle Roth? These women never stop and this list could go on forever.  Humans increase in age and simultaneously increase in power.

I feel badly for people who use age as an excuse to avoid anything.

Third, YogaDance.  I will no longer partake of this discussion after this post.  One, dance was our first spiritual path once we were upright and walking.  Two, therefore yoga was born of dance and not the other way around (yoga asanas are NOT that old).  Dance is in every single human being ever born.  Babies dance; toddlers dance.  Third, my spiritual path is not the same as yours and STOP THINKING YOU CAN KNOW MY INSIDES.

Furthermore, YogaDance is about bringing a yogic level of mindfulness and breath to Dance, which has definitely been missing for most dancers.  For example, watch this video about one of our important choreographers, and you will see that the dancers are rather mystified by his emphasis on breath and it is new to them to think that breath could inform movement!

I am so frustrated by know-it-alls. I am so frustrated by infighting in the freaking yoga world. I am so frustrated by angry people who just want everyone else to be as miserable as they are.

Snark? Cruelty? Anything but Love?  You are not welcome here.  You are Served Notice.


21 comments:

svasti said...

What you describe almost leaves me speechless. BUT I have some things to say!!

First: Anyone who dances regularly and LOVES dancing can identify as a dancer. It isn't a lofty title only reserved for professional dancers for crying out loud!

Second: I've never tried yogadance, but as a dancer (and even though I no longer dance for a living I STILL think of myself as a dancer - it's part of me, too!) and a yoga teacher, I'd take one of your classes in a heartbeat.

Why? Because of the way you describe your classes and your teaching. And because I know it would be an experience full of joy and other things I'm sure I can't even guess at without experiencing it.

I am sorry for your snarky commenter. I hope they find a little more joy and happiness in their life so they can stop trolling on other people's parades!

rachel @ suburbanyogini said...

This is like the endlessly boring debate about REAL yoga - there is no such thing. Before I taught yoga (my yoga - neither real nor unreal - although I do like the sound of Unreal Yoga....) I spent many years in dance. There was alot of snark and a lot of debate about REAL dancers, but to me, like yoga, when body and mind integrate, when that connection happens it's real no matter what you look like or how old you are or anything.

I'm tired of the bullshit!
Much love to you xxx

mdiangie said...

In religion, many believe there is no one true path, but many spokes leading to the one center...that still point from which all energy revolves and emanates. And for me, dance is all about finding my way to that still point and connecting with that universal energy. Body and heart and spirit and breath.

I didn't start bellydance classes until I turned 40. I've only done local performances and at present only choose to dance for myself. That doesn't mean I'm not a dancer. It informs my spiritual life and who I am, how I connect. To me, YogaDance sounds like the perfect practice, like a moving, joyous prayer. Thanks for not letting yourself be narrowly defined and for sharing your thoughts. No cardboard boxes!

LauraX said...

Oh Christine...you are so right...the comment was clearly about the writer's insecurities! I can understand why you needed to write this and announce to the world how you feel...but sweetie, WE KNOW YOU ARE A DANCER...nothing to prove to us...and you don't have to prove it to anyone really...it is just what IS...your TRUTH. So sad when someone feels they must show off...with a false superior attitude. (well the attitude, is real, but the superiority? NOT!)

Keep doing, being YOU...teaching us from your words, from what you learn from your heart as a dancer/yogini/human

bright blessing to you dear one!

Rowena said...

I have thought a lot about what makes someone a "real" artist/dancer/writer/whatever. Probably because I've always been an artist, and have always wanted to write, but am not always able go the traditional route of MFA etc.

I believe that writers write. Artists do art. Dancers dance. It's not about having an audience or being paid for it or going to school for it.

It's about the commitment. If you are committed to your art, to the practice and the craft and the creation, then you are an artist.

Rowena said...

I have thought a lot about what makes someone a "real" artist/dancer/writer/whatever. Probably because I've always been an artist, and have always wanted to write, but am not always able go the traditional route of MFA etc.

I believe that writers write. Artists do art. Dancers dance. It's not about having an audience or being paid for it or going to school for it.

It's about the commitment. If you are committed to your art, to the practice and the craft and the creation, then you are an artist.

Grace said...

Ouch. To some people it seems that in order for a spiritual practice to be valid, it has to be old. Of course, everything was new at one point! And yogadance probably blurs the lines of old and new. You are a dancer if you see yourself as one, in my opinion, and are dedicated to the process. I enjoy ecstatic dance, which to some my not be considered dance, but isn't that were it all started? Meh, you can't please everyone, so just put on your dance shoes and move.

Anonymous said...

This morning when I was dancing I had a thought that dancing is singing with your body. :)

The real fact is labels stink! You are you, and you're amazing, you dance and do yoga, and what ever else YOU want to do! If someone has a problem with that they are probably jealous that they haven't been labeled. Oh, but now they have a label, it's "snarky"
keep on keeping on!

Love ya!
Sarah Brown-M

msnaomicolb said...

Just DO it. The word DO means practice. Physicians practice medicine. Martial artists practice their martial art.

Simply participating with intent to continuously expand, refine, improve....makes you a "REAL" anything in my book.

Best SELLING authors do not always have the best written books.
Pop art might make money but lack depth, but has its own audience.

If you are looking for support in getting in action and reassuring your inner critic that it is safe to express yourself....
Martha Zlatar is a creativity coach who can help. zlatar@sbcglobal.net

Graciel @ Evenstar Art said...

you know fully well who and what you are. you are magic.

xxoo

Anna Guest-Jelley said...

I think the "real" debate--over pretty much anything--is pointless. Who can say what's "real," and why does it matter?

It really irks me when people talk about "real" women, too. Kudos to you for shaking that snarkster off and knowing yourself!

Brigid said...

Goodness.
This person's comment is really about insecurity - the commenter wants to carve up your joy a little so they can feel better. Throw them a little compassion and leave it there.
Thank goodness that, thanks to yoga, yogadance, whatever rocks our world, many of us have moved beyond where your commenter still clearly lives - that dark place.
You bring the rest of us joy :-)

Dimond said...

Every single thing in this world and how to do it has been created by someone. So it's all very ridiculous to say that only a certain way is the correct one. One day someone created ballet, another jazz and so forth. Rules were created, people followed them without question, and for years it's how it was done. You must conform to this specific way or you can't be deemed a spot in the prestigious league of dance. It's been very restricting for the rest of us who love movement. Luckily many of us have figured out other ways to be a dancer that allows much more freedom and often more joy than rigid, formal dance.

Anonymous said...

I love how you turned something that could be really sad into a self affirming announcement... beautiful! well done.

Susann said...

Wow. I am . . . speechless (& let me tell you, that does NOT happen often!). My mother used to call people like this "spoilers", people who are so poisoned by the bile of their own failures, disappointments and unhappiness that they can't stand -- can not STAND -- seeing anyone happy. And so they try to spoil that happiness anywhere it pops up.

I wasn't aware there was infighting in the yoga/dance world about what is and is not "real" dance (truthfully, now; can someone please define "real" for me in any creative field??), but it shouldn't surprise me. It's all fear and insecurity, of course, and it's rife in my world (writers), otherwise reasonably sane people fighting like trapped weasels over who is/is not "real", whether genre fiction is/is not "real" & a thousand other imagined divides.

Fortunately, you don't have to prove yourself to anyone to be a "real" dancer, Christine. Your joy & passion come through in every word in every post, & THAT is real. As for the Spoilers: take satisfaction from the fact they only attack happy, successful people -- you must be doing *something* right to be pissing them off! And dance, Christine -- dance!

Gobinde said...

Dear Christine,

You don't know me, but I have been following your blog for awhile now and am signed up to your facebook page...You provide me with almost daily inspiration. Thank you for that! I felt compelled to respond to this post, as it highlights your GIFT to the world and what I have learned from you.

In my eyes, you are a teacher. And a shining example. A courageous soul for all of us (me!) to follow.

Let me tell you why.

Like you - I've had my share of 'injuries' in life, and as a result at times I have been desperate and indeed 'a very serious animal' who desperately needed to learn a way to let go & surrender to the part of me that is 'part and parcel of Infinity' and as such perfectly perfect, happy, healthy, holy etc.

I found your page originally through my internet search for Ana Brett (I practice and LOVE kundalini yoga and I am a certified teacher of the tradition though I haven't been officially teaching yet). Anyhow, I quickly got addicted to your blog & received TONS of inspiration from you.

I feel like you are my sister on the same path (yoga and meditative/yogic dance) and I wanted to respond to this particular post because I credit YOU for giving me the courage and inspiration to embrace both yoga and dance fully.

Gobinde said...

Continued...

Internally, I battle with this whole " Am I a REAL yogi or a REAL dancer?" -stuff everyday. Do I have the right to claim and surrender to my passion (yoga & dance)? Can I claim myself a 'yogi' if I can't do perfect posture and can I say I am a dancer if I am not officially trained in any school of dance?

The 'Am I a real dancer' especially is a tough one. Yoga world is a little more forgiving and accepting (especially Kundalini, where posture perfection is not needed, and it's so much about intention and awareness and soul anyway)...But dance. Yikes. The word 'dance' alone seems to drive people crazy with loaded expectations and attitudes and opinions.

I found dance and LOVE of dance through Gabrielle Roth's method of ecstatic dancing...and these days I do a YogaDance based on Kundalini Yoga called 'Shakti Dance' (www.shaktidance.net) and I am about to do the teacher's training in shaktidance very soon.

However, when I tell people (even friends!) that I am about to do the training....Some people ask in snarky tones, "Ah but that's not REAL dancing it's just some movement", "But how can YOU teach dance? You're not a dancer" and worst of all, "Ecstatic dancing? That's just a bunch of new agers wailing about and calling it dance."

But what's even worse is that there's a small part of me (and a part of my inner critic) that BELIEVES these people and that leads me to despair as the thing that I love and feel is my calling is branded as 'hokey' and 'unauthentic' and 'silly'...And basically I am being called 'silly' for ever thinking that I had the right to dance or god-forbid call myself a dancer. It's hurtful, it's damaging, it's insulting.

People like you and me need to claim DANCE back! Bring it back to the people who love it and to whom it brings joy and healing and happiness. Dance belongs to everyone. As Yogi Bhajan said: "Happiness is your birthright."

Yogi Bhajan also said that everyone is a yogi because all babies do the yoga postures in their mother's womb :) Dance is the birthright of everyone as well, I believe. Children love to dance! It's only later when some people are taught to that 'dance' belongs to only a small section of humans called ' REAL dancers' and the rest better not dance in risk of making a fool out of themselves. And that's a lie.

Thank you for defending the TRUTH in your blog and affirming it with your example, Christine. :) You give me strength and inspiration.

Dance, when you're broken open.
Dance, if you've torn the bandage off.
Dance in the middle of the fighting.
Dance in your blood.
Dance, when you're perfectly free.
-Rumi

Above all, keep up & keep dancing!

Happy dancin'!

-Gobinde

Gobinde said...

Continued...

Internally, I battle with this whole " Am I a REAL yogi or a REAL dancer?" -stuff everyday. Do I have the right to claim and surrender to my passion (yoga & dance)? Can I claim myself a 'yogi' if I can't do perfect posture and can I say I am a dancer if I am not officially trained in any school of dance?

The 'Am I a real dancer' especially is a tough one. Yoga world is a little more forgiving and accepting (especially Kundalini, where posture perfection is not needed, and it's so much about intention and awareness and soul anyway)...But dance. Yikes. The word 'dance' alone seems to drive people crazy with loaded expectations and attitudes and opinions.

I found dance and LOVE of dance through Gabrielle Roth's method of ecstatic dancing...and these days I do a YogaDance based on Kundalini Yoga called 'Shakti Dance' (www.shaktidance.net) and I am about to do the teacher's training in shaktidance very soon.

However, when I tell people (even friends!) that I am about to do the training....Some people ask in snarky tones, "Ah but that's not REAL dancing it's just some movement", "But how can YOU teach dance? You're not a dancer" and worst of all, "Ecstatic dancing? That's just a bunch of new agers wailing about and calling it dance."

Gobinde said...

Oops, sorry for the double post... As you can see, I feel passionate about this subject ;)

-Gobinde

Christine Claire Reed said...

Gobinde, Over time, I think, we will get more and more immune to people's nasty, as we feel our own happiness on deeper levels and realize that they are reacting out of so much anger and sadness.

In the meantime, we just keep moving forward regardless.

Your comments made me think of a time when I had over-intellectualized myself into a very dark place. I had decided that the only "smart" way to be was to not believe in anything. That is where the true braniacs hang out, right? In cynicism land. That is what we are taught in our modern educational/science based systems. We are told if you can't PROVE something, you are just a dumb ass to believe it.

Then I came to know that I am a believer by nature (as I think most humans are), and I came to see that those believers that I used to make fun of? Well, they were having the MOST FUN, that's for sure.

So I finally said, I would rather believe with the happy delusional types (IF they are that) then be right and snarky and angry with the intellectual atheist types.

So...believe in Dance. It needs you.

Gobinde said...

Thanks, Christine! This is the perfect season to learn to be a believer... :) I believe in dance, I just have to learn how to believe in me and my "bliss" :)

Merry Christmas & joyful dancing,
G.