Full Disclosure: This post is about mentorship in dance; it is written from my personal point of view, which is worth exactly $0.02 USD at the current exchange rate.
Before I move forward, I’d like to clarify a few terms as I will be using them in this post. ( In real life, these terms are used interchangeably pretty often. ) All of these groups can easily overlap
- Teacher – A teacher is someone who teaches you dance, and that you take classes with.
- Coach – A coach is someone hired by the dancer to fine-tune an aspect of your dance. Either you go in wiht a specific goal in mind, or you pay for an assessment to determine your weaknesses before coming up with a plan of attack. Think about a personal fitness trainer, and you’ve got the idea. Coaching can also be applied to non-physical aspects of your career: for example, business coaches abound as of late. There has also a rise in competition coaching.
- Hero – A hero is someone you take inspiration from. Heroes are people who feed your artistic soul even though you may not know them. Heroes can be celebrities in a film, dancers in your community, or even just a fantastic dancer you saw once on YouTube (then could never find the clip again!) Either way, they are people who have an impact on you, expose you to new ideas, or embody something you would like to achieve/become.
- Career Mentor – “Mentor” hereon out. A mentor is someone who takes a hands-on interest in your career, in the “big picture” sense, and from whom you draw some of your methodology. Mentorship is a two-way street. If you do not know them personally, this person is not a mentor but a hero. Usually a mentor is a dancer, but then again sometimes not — more on that later.
OK. So, notice here is that mentors are people who make themselves available to you. Why do I say this? Because mentorship is a process of growth and it is difficult to grow in a vacuum. The unique nature of bellydance is that we frequently do work in a vacuum. We create our own costumes, choreographies, websites, business cards, marketing plans, contracts, business policies, and so forth. Few danceforms put so many tasks on a single person. So it is easy for dancers to get sucked into a hamster wheel made entirely out of “to do” lists. Mentors, coaches, and teachers are the people who can break you out of that cycle and remind you that you’re doing all the tasks to support a larger purpose.