Competition vs. Cooperation in the Bellydance World

We live in very competitive times and through the years of my involvement in the bellydance community I’ve been able to observe the effects of competition vs. cooperation between bellydancers.  There is usually a big difference in actions and results between people who are predominantly competitive and those who are predominately cooperative.

Dancers who are extremely competitive are out only for themselves.  In their mind, there can only be one dancer at the top and they’re determined it’s going to be them.  They don’t support other dancers (although they may pretend to) and usually do everything they can to stop others from being successful.  Their behavior doesn’t foster community at all and creates an atmosphere of negativity, mistrust, and backstabbing.  I’ve talked to many potential belly dance students who’ve dropped out of the dance scene because they’ve encountered these attitudes.

On the other hand, I‘ve seen places where dancers have banded together in a cooperative mode.  They often form belly dance organizations and work hard to create supportive networks to educate and perform.  Invariably, supportive networks attract people who will feel appreciated for their participation and contributions and this is where bellydance grows and thrives.

A standard mantra (excuse?) espoused by those who are big believers in hyper-competition is that fierce competition fosters growth and improvement.  Those who believe in cooperation believe that growth and improvement can be accomplished as well, and in fact even better, with cooperative models of behavior.

If you believe that ‘like attracts like’, then believing that fierce competition is the way to go will help create that kind of reality.  Do you really want to live in a world where everyone is out for his or her own selfish interests?  On the other hand, believing in the inherent goodness in people will help create a much kinder world where you don’t have to beat others to be successful or to feel good about yourself (see my blog post, ‘Are You a Positive or a Negative’).

If you’re afraid that there’s not enough to go around (dance jobs, recognition, respect, etc.) then you will help create that kind of atmosphere.  If you believe there’s enough opportunity and reward out there for everyone when people cooperate together, than that’s the kind of world you will help bring about.  I applaud the dancers with cooperative attitudes who have worked hard for years to create a positive and supportive belly dance community for all of us to enjoy.

Yet, for as much progress that I’ve witnessed of dancers creating cooperative belly dance communities, it seems that for every two steps forward and there is one step back.  There’re still plenty of bellydancers who are operating from a place of fear and negativity.

Hopefully we’ll see bellydancers continue to reach out to each other and to work together to make bellydance grow and thrive.  Let’s not compete against our own best interests.  By supporting like-minded dancers, we’ll all be part of a cooperative belly dance world that is sustainable and nurturing everyone.


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