Performance

Jealousy and Dance

Jealous dancer
Nejla Ates
Nejla Ates
Romanian belly dancer Nejla Ates performing in a New York City Latin Quarter nightclub sometime in 1953. | Nejla Ates, Bellydance, Costume, New York City, Latin Quarter, Nightclub, 1953, Vintage, Stage, Performance, B&w,

Lions and Tigers and Stares, Oh My!

I was belly dancing in one of the most sought after nightclubs in the area. While on stage, I saw the next dancer giving me an intense tigress stare. Uh Oh. Was I imagining that? Later in the dressing room she accused me of stealing one of her steps...a step more than 5,000 years old! I did admire her fiery, bold and beautiful style of dancing, but I didn't recall ever stealing a step.

The discomfort between us continued, and her mere presence set me askew. The piercing looks she gave left me feeling stiff with distress. Not good for a dancer. Soon afterward I actually had a dream about extending my foot on the stairway, causing her to trip down the stairs. Oh My! Could I feel so diabolical? In my waking hours I felt injured by her rejection, and sad she did not see my own creativity. I also felt anger. Was she jealous? Was I? I tried to be friendly, but the atmosphere was icy. I choose to act as cordially as I could.

Then, at an event after-party, she raised her glass in a toast and to my amazement said "Kismet, what do you say we let bygones be bygones?" I was so relieved and pleased, I responded in kind. Afterward we talked and talked so much in the dressing room, we actually had to remind each other not to be late getting on stage. It was the beginning of a friendship that grew in trust and sisterhood.

Jealousy can be natural to some extent, especially when we feel that what we desire is being given to another person. That something can be attention, love, admiration, and all sorts of regard. Add the tone of competitiveness that comparisons can create, and you have quite a mixture of emotions. Here are three suggestion to cope with jealousy;

1. Accept your feelings, yet avoid practicing negative thought patterns. Instead explore your awareness around them. What can you learn from how you are feeling? What are the feelings under your feeling? Is there a message you can receive?

2. Remember your self-worth, your inner beauty, and that your dance ability is your unique gift. Only you can offer your dance.

3. Reach out to the other dancer and offer sincere compliments as a gesture of friendship. They might be very responsive and friendly. It is good for your own soul to offer your best. Love can conquer fear.

Jealousy can be thwarted with better self-understanding, knowledge of one another, and through acts of loving kindness and good will. Perhaps next time you feel that twinge of envy or competitiveness you can plant the seed for sisterhood. It just might grow into a flowered friendship.


Some tips if you're the jealous one:

How to Deal: There are opportunities for dancers of all heights, and stellar technique is your key to nabbing parts. Dancers who size themselves up against others are at greatest risk of falling into the jealousy trap because dancers’ bodies, their facility and natural talent are in many ways predetermined. Since other people decide who gets cast in a role or wins a competition, your biggest defense against jealousy is to believe in yourself.

Working hard for something will help you gain the respect of those in power. From an instructor’s perspective, it’s much better to see a dancer push herself to improve by working really hard, as opposed to those who ‘just have it.’ Also, if you truly value this person’s friendship, be mindful of any nasty comments that you make. She’s unlikely to understand that your mean actions are rooted in jealousy. She could end up feeling badly about herself—which means you could lose her as a friend, a price which is not worth paying.

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Updated Aug 12, 2017 1:50 PM EDT | More details

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