Photo by Artemis Photography Creations
It can be easy to maintain ties with your friends when your friends are also dancers, as in the case of me and my bestie Jen. While we do have to do a bit of schedule-juggling based on which events we're attending, it's pretty easy for us to be at the same place at the same time, despite living in different cities. But for our non-dance loved ones, it can be difficult to maintain relationships, when dance classes and events have you busy most nights and weekends. I've been brainstorming about this for the past week, and here are some ideas I've used in the past and some that I want to try in the future:
-If a friend or family member is coming to one of your shows, invite them to dinner or drinks afterwards. It's a good way to catch up with them and show that you appreciate them supporting your art. Obviously this isn't always possible as sometimes there's an after-party you need to attend for networking purposes, but for small local shows you should be able to do this.
-Have a stitch and bitch. Sure, we often have these as a troupe activity, but if you have crafty friends, invite them to get together and while you work on a new costume or boring repairs (replacing zill elastic is the worst, isn't it?) they can crochet a baby blanket or bead a necklace.
-Invite your friends to come to a class with you. Sure, your friends who don't bellydance aren't going to come to an advanced drills session with you, but maybe they'd like to come to a dance cardio class or a beginning poi-spinning workshop.
-Do lunch or brunch! I just got done doing brunch with a friend and it was great. Since my scheduled stuff is all evenings and weekends, it's pretty easy for me to arrange my daytime work of practice and blogging around a lunch date, and my flexible schedule makes it possible for me to go meet someone who has a specific lunch break at their day job.
-Go makeup shopping. Non-dance friends who still like cosmetics will probably appreciate your expertise, because anything that holds up to you getting sweaty on stage will hold up to their daily life.
-While we're on the subject of fun girly things, go get a manicure together! You'll have nice, professional-looking nails for your next gig and you'll get to chat with your friend while your nails are being painted.
-Make sure to make time for the things your loved ones are interested in, too. If your friend who is a painter comes to your bellydance show, you should go to her gallery opening. Honestly, this goes for your fellow dancers, too. It's important to go to events where you are not performing to support your community, both the bellydance community and the local art scene as a whole.
-Be willing to occasionally skip things to make time for your loved ones. Obviously you can't blow off a performance you're already committed to, a workshop you pre-registered for months ago or troupe practice for anything less than a family emergency, but you should be willing to occasionally miss a non-required dance class or local event you were thinking of attending. If every time your family tries to plan a birthday party or a friend invites you out to dinner you say "Well, I have classes Mon, Tues, Thurs and Fri and I'm performing Saturday and attending a workshop on Sunday", people are going to get frustrated with you fast. You need to learn when it's important to stick to your schedule and when it's OK to say "I'll skip Ballet this week to spend time with you."
-If you're in a relationship, make sure you communicate clearly with your SO what your dance schedule is like and what you need from them, then be willing to listen to what they need from you. Sometimes this means you have to give up on something you'd kind of like to do because there's something you really need to do for your SO. Once again, you'll have to learn where to stand your ground and where to bend a little.
-Don't take people for granted! It's so important to make time for the people in your life and to thank them for being supportive of your dance career. So even if you can't take a friend out to dinner after your show, make sure you find them and thank them for coming out. Thank your SO for putting up with you being at class every night. Thank your family when they plan the big birthday dinner for that one night when they don't have classes. If your parents give you some money to spend at a big dance festival, let them know what you spent it on and how happy you were to be able to buy it. And when you make use of any of the above suggestions to get together with someone, make sure to let them know how happy you are to see them!