In a few short weeks, I’ll once again be helping to run ATS® Homecoming, an event that gathers the American Tribal Style® community together here in San Francisco. I’ll be running the registration table with Cat Ellen and a few dedicated volunteers; please stop by to say hello when you pick up your name tag.
And come to my workshops! There’s three workshops over the course of the weekend, with room in all:
- The Art of Stage Presence and Set-Crafting
- Everything Old is New Again
- The Critique Contract: Giving and Receiving the Feedback You Need (with Cat Ellen)
Many of you have asked after me, and I appreciate it. For me, this event will be bittersweet and hard. A few months ago I was coldly “suspended” from the FatChanceBellyDance teaching collective, with no advance notice or conversation, and with no clear or realistic path to reinstatement. Further, when I announced this, I was subsequently publicly gaslighted when representatives from the collective falsely told the community that it was my choice to leave.
As someone who manages people in my day job, I have a lot to say on how to fire someone with grace, class, and dignity, but for now I’ll say: this ain’t it. All of this bitterness and anger on both sides could have been avoided if someone from FatChance had simply reached out to me first.
But you know what? As a community, we have bigger problems than petty interpersonal crap. We are living in a scary political time, when global nationalism is sweeping the USA and other countries.
Our art form may be uniquely American, but it has its roots in social dances from the Middle East. In addition to the ongoing crisis in Aleppo, many in the Middle East belong to a religion that our incoming government has publicly maligned, leading to intensifying, more public discrimination and violence against our neighbors here at home.
These are frightening times. The world is painful and scary, and many of us — especially white women — are only just now waking up to how painful and scary it is.
As artists inspired by the Middle East and India, we could just sit back and make art. We could send “thoughts and prayers” to Syria while we lavish ourselves with pounds of antique jewelry from that region. We could set our intentions for global healing as we make art and hope that somehow this changes the world outside of our own heads.
Unfortunately, the most effective currency we have to make change, even as artists, is still currency. Money. While it’s important to support the artists in our community who make costuming and jewelry, or the teachers sharing their knowledge, we need to act in other ways too. Here’s where I’m sending my currency: The American Civil Liberties Union. International Rescue Committee. Islamic Relief USA. And there are so many other organizations worthy of our financial support.
If you have the financial ability to do so, I invite you to join me. The challenges we are facing as a community are bigger than any of us. And they are real, and tangible, and our response should be too.