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Interesting Ispahan - facts and figures


In July 2010, Ispahan was conceived by Kashka! The idea was posted on Facebook, one by one Bellydancers soon joined the team enthusiastically and even more supported the initiative.

An emailing frenzy took place and we decided on practise location, on dates and on times. When the dust slowly subsided, I found myself in the company of five lovely and motivated dancing ladies!

On the 14th of August of that year, the Ispahan Oriental Dance Company had it’s official Kick-off! We talked and talked en talked (hey, we’re ladies, allright!), about our ambitions, our preferences and listened to some lovely music.. Since then, we practised hard on our brand new choreographies, making our own music edits, designing our own costumes (picking the colours was totally nerve-racking!) and getting to know each other..

woman playing the Daf / Chehel Sotun Palace

We started performing as from spring 2011, had our premiere in April and just kept on dancing.. on stages in the Netherlands, but also abroad!
For information on where and when, please take a look at our Events page!

In the mean time, we had celebrated our second anniversary and a lot has happened since. I would like to quote Zumarrad from her article: 'The truth about bellydance schools: or, ethics and why we should have them.'

'[ ] For most other teachers, it's not like that. They pay for everything. They work hard on boring things, like securing studio space, like admin, like websites, like newsletters, like flyers, [ ] They don't have any help. It's all down to them. When nobody comes to class, they don't get paid. In fact they have to pay to be there. [ ] Others, clueless, think teaching a class is just for fun and a way to feel important. Sometimes those people are clueless because nobody taught them any better. [ ] But I do ask others to think about ethical treatment of their own teachers. [ ] Bellydance classes are a service to you, and there are certain expectations you have a right to have. A teacher with a class plan. A half-decent space to work in. Safety. Goals to work towards. I think, unfortunately, that there's a lack of respect towards the teachers that provide you with this stuff, and *so much more*. A huge sense of entitlement that has to stop.'
(You can read the full article here.)

Now, in no way am I implying that a group leader faces the same challenges as teachers do, but there certainly are a lot of similarities. As in: group members that want you to solve (or tolerate) their personal issues with each other. Very little thought goes into the realisation that group leaders get to hear it all: all the little annoyances and big frustrations between the members are thrown in their lap, and all frustrations accumulate. There are group members that form special little alliances within the group, instead of being a team player, but will seldom admit to that; leaving others feeling left out. And most problematic: not taking the responsibility that being part of a show group brings (like a sturdy prep before a show, not showing up for a performance because you don't feel like it, etc.), alongside not respecting the role of the group leader and defying every other suggestion that is made, rejecting the 'big master plan' the leader has (and what they signed up for, when they joined the team), to replace it with nothing and calling that democracy.

Also, I have had to -and still have to, apparently- deal with copyright breaches of my designs by (former) members/ from within my own dance company, what photography and artwork are concerned, as well as Ispahan copyright on choreography and costume design (link), also in regard to my artwork made besides/next to the dance company for (former) dance group members, which I made as a service, to help them with their private initiatives (link)!

Thus apllying rules and agreements only when it suits them, which is exemplary. And then there are the ordered (and custom-fitted) costumes, that have never been paid for. Talking about ethics..
Appalling, especially if you consider most of them are (aspiring) small business owners themselves.

People don't take on this role of being a leader just for fun. 'It's fun, it's empowering, it can build cultural bridges and make us feel wonderful and be fitter, but it is also a business.' Zumarrad says in her article. And the business part of a show dance group is to be and act professional, both inside and outside the group, to get gigs and to build a name. Because you all want to, because that common goal is clear (and a great challenge) to everyone. Not because someone constantly has to point that out to you. If you don't plan to, can't, or are not ready to do the work, than don't apply for a show dance group.

It sounds so simple, yet I hear a lot of stories of colleagues that have to deal with the same issues: ethics, sense of entitlement, lack of respect and a lack of responsibility lead up to burned-out teachers and group leaders. With all the possibilities that are offered (all the hafla's being organised, all the work the group leader does by designing web sites, costumes and business cards they never get paid for, all the time they spend at the expense of spouses and friends, getting their entire network involved to be able to keep costs reasonable for all members and all efforts to keep everyone happy and motivated), students and team members have become spoiled. If there are rules everyone has agreed to, who were made to the benefit the group as a whole, they don't 'feel obliged' to keep them when things get rough or they are not part of the group anymore. Group leaders, like teachers couldn't do any of the things they do, if it was not for the support of (employed) partners. Certainly since group leaders are not even getting any pay. 'You know, pay. Like what you get every week or fortnight or month from your boss, for doing your job.'

So recent events were cause for me to evaluate and start fresh. So for now it's a one woman's band!
Interested in joining me? Ispahan would love to find new dancers! Reed all about it on our Application page!

Thank you for your attention and until soon!